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Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Being ambivalent is part of the remarkable complexity of being human. Ambivalence is the experience of having more than one feeling or perspective about the same event or situation. It allows us to view things from multiple perspectives and to be creative in problem solving. This capability sets us apart from other animals whose brains function primarily to react through instinct.
For example, you need to complete a project but friends have asked you to go out for dinner and a movie. Therefore, you are stuck and can't make a decision. This is because you may be failing to recognize that there is wisdom in both. You may not recognize that you have a value to work hard as well as to build strong relationships and your values are in conflict. As long as you are trying to decide between one option or the other, you may be stuck. In situations like this it is helpful to acknowledge both values and find a compromise such as going out for dinner only. Compromises are sometimes the best way to honor our values.
I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.
— Anne of Green Gables
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): The last few days have been perfect here in Atlanta. The crisp air, the beautiful colors and the blue skies! When people would tell me that fall was their favorite season, I always said, “Not mine!” To me, fall meant that winter was on its way and I don’t like the cold. This fall, I’m practicing mindfulness. When I think of the beautiful fall days that I haven’t appreciated due to the anticipation of winter, I feel a little regretful. Mindfulness means being in the moment and letting the future take care of itself. We all too often miss a beautiful or meaningful moment because our thoughts are focused about the future. Ask yourself periodically if the thought you’re having is in the present or future tense. Enjoy today!
Don't change yourself so that other people will like you. Be yourself so that the right people will love you.
— Spirit Science
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): When you worry too much about what other people think of you, it takes energy away from considering your choice about who you want to have around you. We all need people in our lives who know all about us and still love us. But if we are being primarily who they want us to be, we never give them the chance to love who we truly are. Therefore, we never truly trust their love. Spend more time thinking about who you enjoy being around and who adds to your life.
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
— Neil Gaiman
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): The other day I was listening to TV news on Sirius radio, so obviously I couldn’t see the faces of those who were speaking. However, I was able to recognize who was speaking by the sound of their voices. It struck me that every person has a unique voice. As I pondered this I was impressed by the fact that in all of the world, no two people have the exact voice (though my sister and I come close)! There is just one you and that should be celebrated!
I can be changed by what happens to me but I refuse to be reduced by it.
— Maya Angelou
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Sometimes we feel reduced by things that happen to us and feel shame. I think there is a difference between shame (which reduces us) and guilt (which motivates us). If something happened to us and we feel shame, we need to ask ourselves, “Did I do something wrong?” If you would tell anyone else that they had been wrong in the same situation, then it’s actually guilt, not shame. Guilt is normal and should be accompanied by questions such as, “Is there any reparation I can make and anything else to learn?” Shame is the experience we feel when we believe that we are bad. Oftentimes, shame comes about when we personalize a bad thing that someone else did such as abuse or bullying. I believe there’s no place for shame!
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
— Mahatma Gandi
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Many of us long for things to be different such as longing for love, respect, understanding, acceptance, friendship or time. We often feel emptiness, as if something is missing. We might wait each day hoping that something will change. But change comes about through purpose and intention. Rather than waiting, think about what you most long for and offer it to someone else. If you long for respect, acknowledge the good job someone else is doing. If you long for love, do an act of kindness every day. If you long for friendship, initiate friendly behaviors. If you long for understanding, practice active listening skills around others. If you long for acceptance, practice accepting others. If you long for more time, offer your time to someone else. As you take an active role in offering to others the things that you long most, it is very likely that your longing will decrease.
Everything changes. Life changes. People change. This is life.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): This has been so true of the weather in Atlanta over the last few weeks. We can have a rainstorm that is deafening to hear for thirty minutes followed by the brightest blue skies imaginable — and then it all happens again. There seems to be something inside of us that gets uncomfortable with change. We may feel scared, a little sad and nostalgic, or even mad when things change. My oldest son is leaving home this week to go to college and I feel all of the above feelings. But I’ll try not to fight the change. Practicing acceptance opens us up to seeing the potential in every change. And if we don’t accept change that has occurred then we aren’t living in reality. And that means that we are just a little cray-cray (sorry, I had to say that because my son hates it when I say things like that!).
Forgive others, Not Because They Deserve Forgiveness, But Because You Deserve Peace.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): When I think about this concept, it reminds me of when we hold on to anger after someone cuts us off in traffic. They may go along their way without ever apologizing and may never even know that you’re mad at them. Letting go of this anger does nothing for them, but it certainly makes the rest of your drive more peaceful. The same concept can occur when we forgive larger transgressions as well. Forgiveness does not imply that the other shouldn’t apologize, change or make reparations; it simply means that you don‘t have to wait for these things to happen to find peace so that you can move on and take your power back!
Buddha, I want to have your peace, your wisdom, your serenity, your divine nature AND your acorn hat!
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I love the feeling of being surprised by humor when I least expect it. When I read this quote the last line took me pleasantly by surprise. I love using humor at ACE to lighten the mood, oftentimes when people least expect it. Even in the midst of a challenging recovery process, it's good to take ourselves less seriously every now and then. Cultivate humor in your life, choose happy shows and movies, hang around people who make you laugh. It will be good for your body, soul and mind.
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): What a wonderful quote! If everyone practiced this, there would be so much more peace in our relationships, families and communities. I think the same applies to the words we speak to ourselves. Before you speak to yourself, consider these gates. Are the things you say to yourself true? Many of us tell ourselves things that aren't true such as, “I must be perfect to be accepted,” “I shouldn't feel anger,” “I’m not smart,” “I’m not pretty enough.” Are the things you say to yourself necessary? Do you ruminate over things that already happened or obsess about things yet to happen? These thoughts are not helpful and certainly not necessary. Finally, are the things you tell yourself kind? Unkind thoughts are actually very unproductive as they affect your mood and decrease your energy for self improvement. If your words to others or self don't meet these three principles, hold your tongue.
You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): If you are paying full attention to the step you’re on, you can’t possibly see the entire staircase. Ever trip over the first step because you were looking at the top? It’s good to have an idea of where you want to go but most times the original vision shifts during the process. If you’ve been procrastinating because you weren’t sure about the end point, try to accept that it’s okay to just figure out what the first step is. The rest of the steps will be there when you get to them.
This little light o' mine, I'm goin' let it shine.
— Harry Dixon Loes
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Do you let your light shine. Stop for a minute and ponder the fact that in all the world, there is only one you. You are completely unique. I thought about this one day as I was listening to the news on the radio and realized that I recognized people just by their voices. It struck me again how each person's voice is different and unique to only them. This is awesome!
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where the book begins
The rest is still unwritten
— Natasha Bedingfield
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I love this song because it’s a good reminder to focus mindfully. Many people have a hard time focusing inward on their own experiences because they are distracted by what others are thinking. Sensitive people are often more focused on pleasing others, taking care of others, and avoid making mistakes which often distract them from their own thoughts, feelings, and sensations in the moment. The paradox here though, is that to truly be present with someone, you must first be present with yourself. For example if I worry that people won't approve of me, I might monopolize the conversation and not notice that I'm doing this, or conversely, I might be quiet and preoccupied with fear of criticism or rejection. You may also not even realize that you aren't living in accordance with your own values. If you see yourself in this description to some extent, remember "only you can feel the rain, no one else can feel it for you." You're the only one actually living your life.
Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, the power to retell it, rethink it, reconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.
— Salman Rushdie
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Alfred Adler, father of Adlerian psychology, theorized that everyone has a “story of my life” which they form in childhood. This story guides us as we go through life. The story can be full of wisdom such as, “If I work hard, I will be rewarded” or “I am worthy and talented” or it can be contaminated with misconceptions and untruths such as “I'm inadequate” or “I must be perfect to be acceptable.” These stories can become so ingrained that we don’t even realize that we are telling them to ourselves all of the time. For some people, these stories are ruining their lives. One way to become more aware of the story that you are telling yourself is to examine the beliefs that you hold about yourself (I’m not good enough), others (people can’t be trusted) and emotions (anger is wrong). Then begin to reevaluate the veracity of these beliefs. Maybe they are just feelings from long ago that have no real basis in your life now. You can begin to rewrite the parts of your story that no longer fit.
Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.
— Lin Yutang
There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.
— Jill Churchill
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there. Mothers have historically gotten a bad rap from the field of psychology, but I want you all to know that that is changing! Especially at ACE (Rather than blame you, we consider the parents involved in ACE as a huge resource in treatment. You are the ones showing up!). In the past if someone had a problem, mothers got too much of the blame. The more we learn about genetics and neurophysiology, the more we know that people develop problems for many reasons and some are much more vulnerable to their childhood experiences than others are due to neurological sensitivity. So if you are a mom, be gentle with yourself. All mothers can continue to grow and learn but we generally are doing the best we can at the moment with the hardest job on earth! When I first became a mother, I thought I knew everything about how to parent (since I had been teaching others for 15 years as a psychologist). I was wrong and found myself saying repeatedly, wow, this job is harder than it looks! And if you have a mom, even if you felt hurt or misunderstood by her and need to heal from this, today would be a good day to pause and consider that she was probably doing her best, that she loved you even when making mistakes, and to consider validating her as a person with her own set of sensitivities and genetics as well.
Everything I know, I learned from my garden.
— Emilie Barnes
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): As I was pulling weeds in my garden this week, I became frustrated. There were so many — more than I’ve ever seen before — I knew that I couldn’t get them all. I would look across the yard and feel overwhelmed. Then I remembered to practice what I preach. The last thing I needed was to feel overwhelmed when I’m experiencing a beautiful day outdoors. I turned my mind to focus on the small patch of weeds that I was working on. I didn't have to pull all of the weeds — I could just pull a few at a time. That freed my mind to notice the perfect temperature on my skin and the earthy smell. By getting into the moment and doing one thing at a time, I became relaxed and almost enjoyed the task of pulling weeds. I started thinking about the books that have titles like, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” or “from my cat,” etc., and assumed there would be one for gardening and... yes there is! I haven’t read it but I bet it has great advice. Often it isn't the task at hand that drains us of energy, but rather our thoughts about everything that we have yet to do. If you turn your mind to just one task at a time, you almost always will have the energy and may even begin to enjoy it.
Today is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it ... or use it for good.
But what I do today is important because
I am exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes,
This day will be gone forever.
Leaving in its place
Something that I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain and not loss,
Good and not evil,
Success and not failure,
In order that I shall not regret
The price that I have paid for it.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): That about says it all. Consider every day a treasure and turn your mind each day to one thing that made the day unique.
I'm taking all the negatives in my life, and turning them into a positive.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Do you ever wonder if you’re a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of person? I used to feel guilty because I knew I was a glass half empty kind of person. Turns out we all might be. Imagine yourself taking a pleasant walk in the woods and you see a field of wildflowers. You decide to sit for a while and just take in the beauty of the moment. The sun is shining, and there is a gentle breeze. You have time to actually sit and enjoy being out in nature for a full half hour. Then you decide to get up and continue your walk. You hear running water and decide to follow the sound thinking it might be nice to put your feet in the stream. Then all of a sudden there is a loud frightening roar as a bear charges out of the cave. He runs across your path and your heart speeds up with terror. However, he continues to run in another direction and you hurriedly leave the woods.
Which event do you think will impact you the most? The 30 minutes you sat enjoying the field of wildflowers or the 10 seconds of terror you felt as the bear charged across your path? Sadly, it is true that we learn faster and more completely from our negative experiences than from those that are positive. Therefore to feel contentment, we have to spend extra time reliving the moments of contentment so that they can achieve their rightful place in our mind. Every night before you go to sleep or first thing in the morning, relive some of the positive experiences that you had during the day and try to turn your mind away from the negative ones. They will already have enough of your attention!
Behind the glamor, behind the make up, behind all those flashy clothes, there's an ordinary girl who just happens to have an extra ordinary job. I have seen young girls follow celebrities and try to be one of them. They try to attain perfection, have the perfect body, perfect skin tone. They aren’t fully aware of the fact that behind the looks there are a lot of designers, make up artists, and photoshop/video editing. Their whole sense of beauty is flawed. There is no good to looking good if you are conscious all the time about how you look. You should be care free. Love the real you. The way you are so that even if you are without makeup, you can look into the mirror and with a big smile embrace your imperfections. Just imagine if you don’t even love yourself how do you expect anyone to love you. So first and foremost learn to love yourself by being who you are and not what the world wants you to be. All you need to do is have a great heart and be compassionate towards others. I hope you spread the message and let the world know that you value inner beauty more than the outer appearance.
— Scarlett Johansson
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I like to find short quotes to expand on for my ACEspiration messages, but this week I am passing on a message from Scarlett Johansson. I wonder if she ever stood in front of the mirror and scrutinized her looks? They aren’t perfect! But she is now one of my heroes. I hope that today when you look in the mirror you will see that you are “beYOUtiful!”
The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.
— Robin Sharma
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Did you know that we have about 70,000 thoughts per day? No wonder sometimes our thoughts seem to be racing. Obviously, we don’t actually pay attention to every thought, much less act on each one. We only focus on a small minority of these thoughts throughout our day. However, many of us feel like our thoughts rule us — especially late at night when we can’t fall asleep. Have you ever pondered why certain thoughts get your attention and you dismiss others? The practice of mindfulness is simply choosing where to focus your attention. Try to spend a few minutes quietly observing your thoughts. Just wait with curiosity for each thought to come to mind. Notice that you don’t have to act on these thoughts. As each thought comes into your mind, determine if it is a thought that you would like to keep or to discard and then simply wait for the next one. Claim your ability to let your thoughts serve you rather than master you. It starts with just a few minutes of practice each day.
Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inward in prayer for five short minutes.
— Etty Hillesum
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): When teaching mindful breathing, I suggest that people notice the pause at the end of the exhale as a moment when the body naturally relaxes. It is a wonderful moment full of potential for relaxation and for fighting our culture’s message to always be producing. “The adult counterpart to Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum, testifies to the possibility of awareness and compassion in the face of the most devastating challenge to one’s humanity. She died at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of twenty-nine.” This quote is from the book description of A Life Interrupted in which her letters and diaries are published. It attests to the power of this moment, learning that it brought comfort to Etty in such a tragic time. Of course we don’t contend with the same devastation that she experienced, but our lives can become overwhelming at times and this simple technique can help you recenter your mind. Note: This photo was taken near Dachau when my family and I traveled to Germany in 2014.
The Elimination Diet: Remove anger, regret, resentment, guilt, blame and worry. Then, watch your health, and life improve.
— Charles F. Glassman
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): With so many crazy diets on the market (which don't work), I was delighted to see this one!
Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.
— Bob Marley
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): After spending a week in Jamaica, I thought it would be appropriate to use one of my favorite Bob Marley quotes in this week’s ACEspiration, "Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” It started raining one day and our Jamaican driver said, “No problem! Just liquid sunshine!” Even when an experience is not what you may have preferred, sometimes there is a blessing in experiencing it in the moment and accepting it as it is. Children are masters of this. As we dodge puddles, they are aiming straight for them. Stop and look around. Is there something that you might benefit from experiencing fully that you would have otherwise missed or even regretted?
Life is an echo. What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you. Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you. So give goodness.
— Zig Ziglar
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): As we wait for what may come in the new year, we sometimes fall into a passive mindset. How often do you hear yourself thinking things like “I wish, I hope, if only, it's always something” without realizing that our very attitude may be actively creating the type of day, month or year that we will have. Giving is an action that creates positivity in you and those around you. What would happen if you did one small act of kindness each day? I think you would feel much more powerful over your own life and 2016 might bring those things you’re waiting for!
New Year Resolution: Laugh a little louder; smile a little bigger, love a little deeper, and walk through life a little slower.
— Brittle 2013
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): A plan to change based on an arbitrary date is usually doomed to failure. Take for example the thousands of resolutions made on January 1 that usually flop within a week. A more subtle example of resolving to change at some point in the future is when we determine to do better tomorrow — such as, “Tomorrow I will eat more healthy, I’ll eat less tonight to make up for overeating right now, Tomorrow I won’t yell at my kids, I’ll start exercising next week. Why do these resolutions fail? Because the only time that you can actually change something is in the present moment. Each moment is ripe for new thoughts or behaviors while future moments never come.
As I was meeting with a client this week (you know who you are!), she described her hesitancy to make long-term New Year’s resolutions. We talked about making new intentions instead. It is harder to fail at an intention that connotes process rather than a specific goal. I love the intentions expressed in this cartoon -- especially the last one!
Happy New Year!
You were so tired from wrapping presents last night, you accidentally put the diaper on the dog.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Many of you have been recently celebrating the holidays. Such a wonderful time and yet so busy too! This cartoon depicts the exact opposite of being mindful. For many of us the stress may outweigh the comfort of the special days. Case in point, you may have noticed I haven’t sent out an ACEspiration in the past week or two. My hope for you is that you will pause and consciously consider the memories that you are making. In any gathering, it is possible to get caught up in the doing. Take time to pay attention to the lights, the music and the people!
Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?
— John O’Donohue
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Today, I was rushing in and out of the grocery store when it hit me that today was one of those perfect days that I always long for. The sun was shining and there was a slight chill in the air. There was a little breeze and the last of the fall leaves were gently drifting down. Isn’t it sad to long for something and then miss it when it comes? Sometimes we get so focused on doing that we forget to live our life. The best of times really is in the small moments.
You can always brag on yourself to your family.
— L.A. Paulk
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I remember my dad telling his kids that it was always OK to brag about yourself to your own family. This was a very freeing concept. Many of us want to share when we’ve done something well or been praised by others, but hesitate doing so for fear of sounding like we are self-centered or vain — in short — bragging. But it seems much easier to talk about things that don’t go well. A big problem with this is that the things you hear yourself say out loud, have a lot of power over the way you feel in general. Just like it’s much easier to talk ourselves into a bad mood than it is to talk ourselves into a good mood. Not everybody though, has been encouraged to brag in front of their family, so if you don’t feel like you can, find a few people that you can trust yourself to brag to. Maybe, tell them that you want to hear their achievements or good moments as well. This will enable you and others to experience more positivity.
Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.
— A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): As many have said in so many ways, gratitude causes us to feel that we have plenty no matter what our circumstances — but if we focus on what we don't have, we will never have enough. At ACE, we are so grateful for all of the courageous, talented, beautiful and loving individuals who have shared their recovery journey with us. You have faced your eating disorder with such courage and you are a testament to all sufferers out there. We hope that you will have much to be thankful for this year. Blessings!
A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
— John A. Shedd
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Safety may be overrated if it prevents you from doing “what you were built for.” Is there anything that you have avoided to stay on the safe side of things? If so, start by asking yourself why you are avoiding. Is it because you’re ambivalent? Is it because you don’t feel like you have the skills? Is it because you are not sure you would succeed? The beginning of moving forward is becoming curious about what holds you back.
I still fall on my face sometimes and I can't color inside the lines 'cause I'm perfectly incomplete. I'm still working on my masterpiece, I wanna hang with the greatest, gotta a way to go, but it's worth the wait. No you haven't seen the best of me, I'm still working my masterpiece.
— Jessie J.
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Is it possible to be “perfectly incomplete?” If you understand dialectics, you know that two seemingly opposite things can be true at the same time. We need to accept ourselves in order to change. Maybe being incomplete is perfect! What does being incomplete imply? That we have a need for help at times, a need for connection to God and others? Being incomplete means that we are better able to understand other people and their incompleteness. We are all a work in progress! Be gentle with yourself but keep working on your masterpiece!
Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.
— John F. Kennedy
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): The other day I watched my cat try to fit inside a box that was much too small for him. He turned and turned for much longer than I would have thought possible but he finally did settle in. During the process, I was tempted to find a bigger box but it was just too amusing to watch him. It seemed as though his desire to “fit in” was more important than his desire for comfort. I'm glad to report that after about a minute of sitting, he figured out that it was actually not very comfortable and got out. Are you trying to fit into someone else’s box or a box that you think is right for you but in some way is not comfortable? Society, parents, teachers, coaches and even friends impose boxes on us. Be aware when a box is being given to you and make certain that it’s a good fit before spending too much time trying to fit into it!
You don’t have to be swept away by your feeling. You can respond with wisdom and kindness rather than habit and reactivity.
— Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): The book, Mindsight (Daniel Siegel, 2011), does an excellent job of simplifying brain functioning for his readers. He uses the hand in the shape of a fist to depict the interrelatedness of different parts of the brain. The limbic system (a tucked-in thumb), processes drive, emotions, and reflexes while the prefrontal lobes (the top of the two middle fingers from fingertips to second knuckle), enable executive functioning such as planning, analyzing, and observing oneself. However, after a certain level of arousal has been experienced, the prefrontal lobes go off line (so to speak) and the brain only uses the limbic system. That is, we literally “lose our mind” or “flip our lid” and rely on reflex. Relying on reflex is adaptive when the person is truly being threatened in some way. The brain shouldn't need to be self-aware or solve complex problems when we need to fight or flee. Nonetheless, in most situations, we need the areas of our brain to function together like a closed fist.
Connectivity refers to the amount and speed of interaction between different parts of the brain. Some people may have less connectivity in their brains due to physiology. This seems to be the case in children with ADHD and in highly sensitive individuals. If the link between the prefrontal lobes and the limbic system is inefficient, it is harder for these individuals to achieve a wise mind, which is the ability to utilize these two parts of the brain at the same time. The good news is that even if a person’s brain has less connectivity, this condition can be improved due to the neuroplasticity of the brain — our brains are always changing by forming new neural pathways. Mindfulness practices are designed to increase this ability. If you feel that you are reacting more strongly to a situation than you wish, tap your forehead as a reminder to use this part of your brain.
The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice.
— R.D. Lang
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): As the weather starts to change don't fail to notice the beauty of fall. It passes so quickly into the gray of winter. One of our groups at ACE is called Mindfulness. Members check in with an example of what they experienced from the previous week relating to being mindful. Last fall, an ACE client said that she suddenly noticed a beautiful tree in her neighborhood which she had driven past for many days without seeing it -- she was so lost in thought. Once she noticed, she was filled with a sense of satisfaction and contentment (things we all need more of). She added, “I almost missed it!” Don't miss a single, beautiful thing!
Tilly was downcast; as with all perfectionists, it was the detail others might not notice that destroyed for her the pleasure of achievement.
— Elspeth Huxley, The Flame Trees of Thika: Memories of an African childhood
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I used to go through evaluations after giving a workshop and focus primarily on the negative ones. Even if there were 99 positive evaluations and one negative comment, the one negative comment would get most of my attention. It is human nature to focus more on the negative than the positive but it sure can be depressing. Now, if my mind lingers on the negative comment, I purposely turn my mind (a mindfulness practice) to thinking about the positive comments. If you find yourself focusing on a negative thought, ask yourself if you are thinking about it in balance with all of the evidence. If not, practice turning your mind. Perfectionism can drain energy from yourself and your relationships!
Courage is being scared to death — but saddling up anyway.
— John Wayne
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Sometimes people wait until they feel comfortable to do something new or to make a change. Of course this never happens which can result in a lot of waiting... If you're going to do something difficult or attempt to make a change, you will have to do it with a measure of discomfort or even fear. So get that saddle out!
The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
— Neil Gaiman
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): If we look to see what others have, we can always find someone with something that we want, such as more stuff or better relationships. But there is not another you and you have unique qualities that are put together in a way that is like no one else. Be excited about valuing your own uniqueness. No matter how low you feel at times, you have value and the way to feel significant is by grasping what is so you about you!
We can say what we need to say. We can gently, but assertively, speak our mind. We do not need to be judgmental, tactless, blaming or cruel when we speak our truths.
― Melody Beattie
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Some people speak their mind aggressively, without being open to others, while other people hesitate to ever speak their mind. Some are afraid that if they assert themselves, they might be misunderstood or might come across as selfish or hurtful. However, if we don't let people know what we think and feel, they never truly know who we are. When we have something we need to say and we don't, we are likely to spring a leak. As my mom, Martha, once said with much wisdom, “There is more room outside than in!” Don't hold it in out of fear but gently and assertively speak your mind.
Ambivalence is a wonderful tune to dance to. It has a rhythm all its own.
— Erica Jong
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): We often feel ambivalent. Just consider all the phrases used for ambivalence: Of two minds, I’m torn, it’s a dilemma, the jury’s still out, waffling, it’s debatable, vacillating, wavering, having a foot in both camps, hem and haw, it’s a quandary, sitting on the fence, in limbo, wishy-washy. It’s obviously a normal human condition. I love the scenes from Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye expresses his ambivalence while talking with God by saying, “On the one hand … but on the other hand…” In one famous scene he says it about six times (of course we don’t have that many hands). In frustration, he yells, “No! There is no other hand!” Ambivalence is a normal human experience that can exist due to our ability to see an event from many angles. However, we can get stuck when we don't know how to resolve it. Procrastination can be a signal that we are experiencing ambivalence. Start by asking yourself if there is wisdom on each side of the dilemma. Often times the way to move forward is by finding a path that incorporates aspects of both sides.
It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.
—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): When I was younger, I used to say, “I wish” quite frequently. I would say things like, “I wish I could go to Hawaii,” “I wish I had a boat,” “I wish it weren't raining,” etc. I finally noticed that whenever I was wishing for something, my mood was sad. I began to notice how often I said it, and I’m embarrassed to say that it was a lot. It seemed that I had gotten into the habit of saying, “I wish...” The fact was that I had plenty, but I wasn't in the habit of saying, “I’m glad that I have my car” or “this friend,” etc. It’s not that I wasn't, I just wasn't in the habit of pointing it out to myself as much as I was in the habit of pointing out what I wish I had. Every time you notice yourself saying, “I wish…” see if you can follow it with “I'm glad...” and then notice what happens to your mood.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
— Joseph Campbell
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Do you ever compare yourself to others? Do you ever lose in the comparison? When that happens, have you noticed what happens to your mood? During lunch at ACE, I asked people to make a grounding statement before the meal (a grounding statement is something that would be good to hear yourself say — it helps ground you in your wisdom, values or goals). One participant said, “Each of us is unique, so comparison is irrelevant.” I loved the use of the word irrelevant in that context. It is truly irrelevant and yet we all do it at times. The next time you notice yourself comparing, at least follow the thought immediately with another thought about something that is uniquely special about YOU!
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin' might mean takin' chances but they're worth takin',
Lovin' might be a mistake but it's worth makin',
Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin' out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance....I hope you dance.
— Lee Ann Womack
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Stand up right now and do a five second happy dance... just because you can!
Worry about your character, not your reputation. Your character is who you are. Your reputation is who people think you are.
— J. Cole, rapper
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Oftentimes we seem to judge ourselves from the outside in. We think about a trivial mistake we made or wonder what someone is thinking about us. It's much more important to ponder ourselves on a deeper level. Consider your character and true intent. Do you know the intent of you heart? Is it your intent to be kind, compassionate, honest, trustworthy? If so, why not spend some time claiming these truths about yourself and less time worrying about the smaller details? When you claim these truths, your behavior is more likely to be in line with your intent.
If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.
― Ecclesiastes 11:4. Besides ...
Perfection is boring on live TV.
— Tina Fey
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Do you ever feel like you can't do something good enough? It may be perfectionism that is the real problem. Perfectionism is actually a hindrance to most achievement. It can be an excuse for not getting started. It causes you to focus on the end-product with little attention paid to the process. Perfectionism is motivated by fear and characterized by avoidance, fear of making a mistake or disappointing yourself or others, or, at its worse, avoidance of doing anything. Have you avoided starting anything recently? Forget the goal for a minute, and just do one small thing toward the goal. See how that feels and be curious about where it might take you.
Negative emotions are like the smoke from a burned pan. They can take awhile to dissipate.
— Linda Paulk Buchanan, Ph.D
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan):
Did you know emotions are experienced as physical and chemical reactions in the body? A clear example -- if you get really sad, a drop of water falls out of your eye. Kind of strange when you think of it, isn't it? When an emotion is experienced, the limbic system produces chemicals. If you remember something sad, your brain produces different chemicals than if you remember something happy. The kicker is that when you experience a negative emotion, it can take awhile for the chemicals to dissipate in the body. Until they do, you will have a tendency to see things through the lens of chemicals currently in your body. So, if you get mad, talk about it and take care of the situation, the chemicals may still linger. Since your brain is always looking for order, you are more likely to focus on things that make you mad, prolonging the chemical event of anger (ever woke up on the wrong side of the bed and felt that way all day?). I refer to this as the burnt pan syndrome. Even after you've cleaned the pan, the aroma lingers. However, this doesn't mean that you need to clean another pan. You have the power to shift the chemicals in your brain on purpose. For instance, call someone who makes you laugh. Your brain will then produce happier chemicals.
No one else has access to the world you carry around within yourself; you are its custodian and entrance. No one else can see the world the way you see it. No one else can feel your life the way you feel it. Thus, it is impossible to ever compare two people because each stands on such different ground. When you compare yourself to others, you are inviting envy into your consciousness; it can be a dangerous and destructive guest.
—John O'Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): There is not much to add. Maybe just to suggest that today you speak to yourself with gratitude and compassion for the unique individual that you are.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
— Mark 12:31
If it is a virtue to love my neighbor as a human being, it must be a virtue — not a vice to love myself, since I am a human being too.
— Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving 1956
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): If you are unsure if it is OK to love yourself, consider some of the consequences of not loving yourself:
Hmmm, it might be easier to learn to love yourself — even if you have spent years believing you were unlovable or considered it to be selfish. Say something loving to yourself now, such as, “I am the only one of me there is and I deserve to love myself."
There are two kinds of fears; rational and irrational - or, in simple terms, fears that make sense and fears that don't. For instance, the Baudelaire orphans have a fear of Count Olaf, which makes perfect sense, because he is an evil man who wants to destroy them. But if they were afraid of lemon meringue pie, this would be an irrational fear, because lemon meringue pie is delicious and has never hurt a soul.
— Lemony Snicket, The Wide Window
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): When you feel anxiety or fear, it is often helpful to ask yourself how rational it is. I'm always a little amused when someone says that they have a fear of snakes...don't we all? But many of our fears are irrational. By avoiding an irrational fear, it's like reaffirming it and it grows. The only way to make an anxiety or fear decrease is to do the thing that makes you anxious. Take a small step toward your fear today!
The secret to change is not on fighting the old but by changing the new.
We need never be bound by the limitations of our previous or current thinking, nor are we ever locked into being the person we used to be, or think we are.
― Allan Lokos
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): We never NEED to be bound by our previous thinking but most of us surely are. See last week's ACEspiration for more on this concept of being hindered in life due to our early thinking. The best way out of this is through mindful awareness. If you catch yourself being critical, ask yourself if you have been feeling that way about yourself for quite some time. If so, you are bound and limited by your thinking. Maybe you tell yourself that you're not good enough in some way. You will not be able to change your thoughts overnight even if you do recognize that they began long ago and are probably not true and definitely not helpful! However, every time you have the old thought, if you will follow it with a positive thought that is true about you, your habitual thinking will begin to change. Choose something now so that when those old energy-draining thoughts arise you are prepared.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.
— Apostle Paul 1 Corinthians 13:11
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): What does it mean to think like a child? Thinking like a child is determined by brain development. In early childhood, children cannot think abstractly, therefore anything that happens they credit that thought to themselves. This is why when bad things happen, children often believe that they are not good enough or are unlovable. As they head into adolescence they begin to be able to think abstractly and can begin forming rules in their mind about how to best operate in their environment. These rules are based on their earlier beliefs. As adolescents, they may begin telling themselves statements such as, “In order to make Dad happy, I must be perfect.” Or “People will think I'm silly, so I should be quiet.” If the stories we tell ourselves go back to childhood, they are based on early brain functioning, which can often be inaccurate and could affect us negatively. In some cases, they could be ruining our lives. Putting away childish things means rethinking these automatic beliefs. They are hard to change — as they have made very strong neural pathways in our brains relating to the number of times they've been repeated in our thoughts. This is why it is okay to tell yourself affirmations such as, “I am worthy and lovable,” even if you don't believe them yet. You wouldn't want an adolescent telling you what to believe, would you? Maybe it's time to tell that adolescent part of you a new story.
We cannot grow when we are in shame, and we can't use shame to change ourselves or others.
— Brené Brown, author of I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Sometimes I wonder if shame should be categorized as an emotion. Emotions generally serve to motivate us into action. If I'm scared, I need to run. If I'm angry, I need to protect myself. If I love, I need to spend time with the person I love. It is the opposite with shame. Shame makes us feel like we should disappear, be invisible or hide. It makes you feel like you are unacceptable or just bad. Shame is debilitating and sets up a downward spiral in which we have no energy for enhancing our lives or contributing to others.
When you experience shame it may be most effective to simply step aside from it and focus on something that you can do for yourself (or someone else). Shift it to guilt if you have specifically done something wrong — if not, tell yourself there is no place for shame.
Whenever you fall, pick something up.
— Oswald Avery
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): People who are highly sensitive or perfectionistic tend to try very hard to avoid making mistakes. But it's actually from the mistakes that we generally learn the most in life. I love the thought that "every time you fall, look for what you can pick up." It might be a new friend who has also experienced a similar situation. Have you ever had the absolutely, delicious experience of telling something to someone who then said, “I have that problem too.” Even better, is when the two of you begin to laugh about it. Such connection and growth is possible from our mistakes. As you have probably heard before, most problems are not obstacles, but opportunities. Develop a lighthearted, curious attitude when you fall. Stand up, brush yourself off, put a Band-Aid on your knee and look around for what you might not have noticed if you had not been down on the ground.
Fear as a Habit
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Is it possible that something that you've been fearful about is simply habit? I was the oldest of three children and at about the age of three, my father told me that I was in charge. Needless to say, I developed into a bossy, little girl who thought that she was supposed to tell everyone what to do. Even to my same-age friends. That did not make me the most likable kid on the block. Fortunately, I began to understand, in large part to my best friend who was an only child. She told me in no uncertain terms that I better stop telling her what to do! So I changed my behavior. However, it took years to believe that I was likable. I finally realized that my fear of not being liked was just a habitual way of feeling. If you have a tendency toward this behavior, ask yourself if it's just a habit and not actually true anymore (if it ever was).
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
— Steve Martin
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I think Steve Martin is hilarious! This quotation is funny but what does it mean? I think it may mean that when things aren't the way we want them to be, there may be another reason for the way they are. I sometimes get caught up in wishing for something to be different and then miss something good about what actually is. If you have a thought about something you wish were different about yourself, ask yourself if the thought is effective or are you being critical. If it leads to positive action then it may be helpful. If not, then it's probably just being critical. If you determine what is just being critical, the challenge is to think of one thing that you can appreciate about yourself. Sweet dreams!
Healthy shame is the basic metaphysical boundary for human beings. It is the emotional energy which signals us that we are not God — that we have made and will make mistakes, that we need help. Healthy shame gives us permission to be human.
— John Bradshaw
I'm only human.
— Christina Perry
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): I have been known to say many times to my patients that “there is no place for shame” and I'm not even sure that I like the term healthy shame. However, I do think that this concept is a good one. The idea that we cannot be perfect connects us to all other human beings who also are not perfect. Perfectionism takes us to loneliness. Our imperfections connect us. The difference between healthy shame and toxic shame is that healthy shame is generally short-lived and does not reflect identity. Toxic shame can last a lifetime. It produces thoughts such as, “I'm unacceptable, inadequate, unlovable” (hence, statements about identity). So the next time that you trip in public, pass gas in yoga class, or focus on an imperfection in your appearance and you feel that momentary rush of embarrassment or shame, try to say to yourself, with a smile on your face, “Well, I'm only human!”
You are magnificent beyond measure, perfect in your imperfections, and wonderfully made.
― Abiola Abrams
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Hmm, how many times have you looked in the mirror and thought to yourself that you were wonderfully made? Maybe when you look in the mirror you, like most people, focus on what you don't like or what you assume is not wonderfully made. Pause for a moment and think of the many miracles that occur in our bodies, often on a daily basis. For instance, breathing in what you need and breathing out what you no longer need without even having a conscious thought. What about the wonder of cells knitting together to heal a wound? Oh, and what about eyelashes blocking small particles from irritating your eyes? I wonder how many times that's happened to you and you were not even aware that you were nearly in danger of irritation. And then the area that many of us have so much ambivalence about, the stomach: How wonderful it is that we have a container that can store nutrients to provide energy for several hours at a time as we go about our day. A container that miraculously expands as needed. If you don't like the way your stomach expands, consider a brown paper bag -- can it stay flat with something in it?
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.
— Cynthia Occelli
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): No wonder change can be so painful -- such an upheaval, so scary, and yet so beautiful once it's achieved! We all have a growth potential built-in both physically and mentally. However, circumstances in life can cause us to fear change, consequently blocking our potential. If fear is keeping you from attaining something that you want or need, give yourself the gift of letting go and allow it to occur. Sometimes the actual change comes naturally once we stop fighting it.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
— William Arthur Ward
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Which are you? Most people tend to notice the negative more than the positive. We are hardwired to do this because there is more survival value in paying attention to where a bear lives than knowing where the daffodils grow. I used to feel slightly guilty that I was a glass half empty kind of person until I realized most of us are. Through mindful awareness, we can be active in diminishing the chances that this natural caution turns into pessimism. In addition, if we naïvely hope that daffodils will spring up all around us, we might miss opportunities to plant them in time for spring. As I look out at my garden right now, I notice that there are daffodils and way too many weeds! I don't guess those weeds are going to pull themselves, are they?
If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like a sunbeam and you will always look lovely.
— Roald Dahl
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Have you ever thought of positive thoughts as a beauty treatment? No matter what you do to improve the appearance of your face, nothing works better than a smile. Marketers know this. Think about TV commercials that show a before and after photo. No matter what the product, the person in the after picture is always smiling. It's like an instant, mini facelift! Additionally, it is very hard to think negative thoughts when you're smiling. Try it out. Go to the mirror right now and frown and then smile. Which face are you more drawn to? Smile and look deeply into your eyes and think a positive thought. It may improve your entire day (and your appearance)!
Do you know the story of the Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen? A prince is looking for a true princess to marry. A pea is placed under twenty mattresses and if she is able to feel the pea when lying upon them, she is truly a princess. "On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how she had slept. "Oh, very badly," said she. "I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I am black and blue all over my body. It's horrible!" Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds. Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that!
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Well, actually about 20% of people are considered to be highly sensitive. This sensitivity seems to be related to differences in the brain including producing less than average amounts of serotonin (a neurochemical). Serotonin is related to the ability to feel a sense of contentment, peace, calm and is also related to sleep. People with less serotonin tend to be more reactive to stimuli and often times overdevelop harm-avoidant coping strategies. Being highly sensitive is at least in part, inherited and is both a blessing and a burden. These people tend to be very caring, loyal, insightful, and in tune to other people's feelings. If you are one of these people, you can't change it, but you can certainly learn to manage it with less difficulty. Just consider yourself a princess!
We need never be bound by the limitations of our previous or current thinking, nor are we ever locked into being the person we used to be, or think we are.
― Allan Lokos
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): A lot of previous and current thinking about ourselves is made up of early conclusions. In the present moment, you can be free of those and can consider who you are right now and who you want to be. Everything is new in the current moment and possibilities abound in the future. Identify for yourself one thing that pleases you about who you are now.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it. It's the best instrument you'll ever own.
— Kurt Vonnegut
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): As we end Love Your Body Month, make a new commitment to stop waiting for a different body before doing anything! The NEDA symbol is becoming a symbol for a positive body image. It is a stylized heart that can also be interpreted as the outline of a female body. The heart demonstrates loving concern for those suffering from eating disorders and the female body represents diversity and acceptance of all body shapes and sizes. Confidence doesn't come from having a certain type of body. Think of the people you've known who had wonderful bodies but still were dissatisfied and lacked confidence. Confidence must come from something else.
My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened.
— Michel de Montaigne
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Have you ever wondered if you create misfortune for yourself that only exists in your mind? If you often feel unsafe, is it of your own making? For instance, do you tell yourself that others will judge you or dislike you without really checking it out in the moment? Do you overuse self-deprecating humor or put yourself down in front of others? Do you apologize unnecessarily? Is it that you think it is better for you to "hit" yourself first rather than being "hit" by the other person? Imagine the sad irony if they weren't of a mind to "hit" you anyway.
Sometimes we spend so much time avoiding risk to increase our sense of safety that we don't realize that we're creating an internal environment that isn't safe. Try to create an internal environment of safety by being more mindful of the moment rather than your assumptions. Or take it even a step further by telling yourself that you are safe, good, likable, smart, etc.
Loving your body only when it's perfect is like loving your kids only if they're well-behaved.
— author unknown
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Well, that says it all! Yes, it is okay to love your imperfect body. Don't hold back— think about all of the things that your body is capable of performing and do something loving today…for your body!
I guess it's going to have to hurt, I guess I'm going to have to cry, And let go of some things I've loved to get to the other side. I guess it's going to break me down, Like fallin’ when you try to fly, Sad but sometimes moving on with the rest of your life starts with goodbye.
— Carrie Underwood
Message from Dr. B (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Are you trying to make improvements in your life? Sometimes, instead of just thinking about where we want to be, we first have to consider what we will have to give up to get there. If we don't make peace with this, it will continue to divide our attention. Consider specifically what you will need to let go in order to start something new. It may even be just an hour of TV in place of that new hobby you want to start. But without a conscious decision and acceptance of being without, it will continue to be an obstacle.
A ship in harbor is safe, but that's not what ships are built for.
Message from Dr. B. (Linda Paulk Buchanan): Safety may be overrated if it prevents you from doing what you were built for. Is there anything that you tried to avoid so you could stay on the safe side of things? If so, start by asking yourself, “Why are you avoiding?” Is it because you're ambivalent? Because you don't feel like you have the skills? Or maybe you are unsure if you would succeed? The beginning of moving forward is becoming curious about what holds you back.
Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
— George Bernard Shaw
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Consider the difference. Finding yourself implies you are some kind of pre-packaged entity that if you can find, you will have contentment. Actually, to find yourself will be to find what has been pre-programmed during the developmental years of childhood. For some, that might not be too bad and might provide a wonderful foundation for creating yourself. For others, it might be a creation of other values (be perfect, don't let them see you cry, don't show anger, be a doctor). What you create will be more authentically you. Consider your own values, faith, or the advice you might give a friend as you create your future.
Go out and make it a good day.
David Hartman, the first co-host of Good Morning America, closed each broadcast with the same benediction. In a 2005 speech that Hartman prepared for GMA’s 30th anniversary, he explained, “My daily sign-off line, ‘Make it a good day today,’ reflected GMA's values and the belief that each of us can affect our lives in a positive way.”
Message from Dr. Buchanan: The more common phrase, "Have a good day" implies that we can just sit back passively and a good day will present itself. I remember being young (very, very young) and hearing David Hartman say the above quote. I think it impacted me to be more active in my pursuit of happiness and achievement. So... Go out and MAKE it a good day! I know you saw that coming.
I live off a motto that says, 'yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery'. I have goals and agendas. Wherever I'll be tomorrow, that's where I'll be.
— Vanilla Ice
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
— Henry David Thoreau
Message from Dr. Buchanan: As people are making New Year’s resolutions, feelings of anticipation, excitement and discouragement may develop. As we think of other goals not achieved, we may feel discouraged. This year, try focusing on the process rather than the end product. Focus on what you can do today rather than where you want to be next year. We always have today!
Don’t believe everything you think.
— author unknown
It is easier to believe a lie that you have heard a thousand times, than the truth that you have only heard once.
— author unknown
Message from Dr. Buchanan: This is true based on the way that our brain functions. Every time you repeat a thought, the neural pathway is strengthened — new thoughts have very weak pathways. So if you assumed that you weren’t lovable because your dad left when you were four, you’ve probably told yourself this lie hundreds of times in many different ways. This explains why we go on believing a lie about ourselves even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The only way to begin to change your belief is to constantly tell yourself the new truth in spite of not believing it. So often people don’t persist in this effort because the thought doesn’t feel true. Don’t give up, with enough time repetition and your brain will have to start accommodating the new thought!
Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
— Albert Einstein
Message from Dr. Buchanan: As we enter this holiday season with shopping, parties, and family visits…pause. Pause when there is a moment that is worth having and remembering. Just pause and notice what’s happening and why you want to remember it. Otherwise it will all be a blur and simply not worth the fanfare.
As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.
— Henry David Thoreau
Message from Dr. Buchanan: This is pure brain physiology! The thoughts that you’ve had since childhood have made deep ruts in the pathways of your brain. Most of the rules that you apply to yourself such as “be perfect, don’t ask for help, people won’t like you or will let you down," were formed when our brain achieved the ability to think abstractly; around ages 11 or 12! Did you ever think about the fact that when you live by these rules you are in a sense being guided by a 12-year-old? If these rules aren’t working for you, it’s okay to change them even before you believe the new thoughts. You will be making new pathways in your brain that will then allow for belief to follow.
Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.
— James Bryant Conant
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Change is rarely easy. Like the turtle, trying to change can make us vulnerable. Change can be slow. But with persistence, it happens! It takes a lot of motivation to risk the vulnerability and hard work to change. If you’re feeling stuck, you might ask yourself how important is the change you want to make and what would need to happen to make it more important. If it’s already very important, ask yourself what is the first thing that needs to happen to begin making progress. A current ACE participant grounds herself before meals by saying to herself, "Progress, not perfection.”
I’m only human and I bleed when I fall down and I’m only human and I crash and I break down.
— Christina Perri
Message from Dr. Buchanan: What does it mean to be human? It means that you bleed, you have needs, like the need to breathe, the need to eat, the need to drink, the need to take up space, the need for people. It means you make mistakes. It means you can be hurt, loved, understood and you can be misunderstood. It means you have limits and possibilities. Think today about what you are “humanly” capable of doing as well as what you need and be gentle with yourself.
Gratitude doesn’t change the scenery, it merely washes the glass clean so that you can see the scenery.
— Brighton Recovery Log
Message from Dr. Buchanan: I think that the most life-giving or energizing emotion is gratitude. It’s when you look at something that you have as good or enough. You feel replenished versus the feeling of depletion we get when we wish for something. One day driving to work, I saw a woman gardening and I thought “I wish I could be gardening” and I felt saddened until I realized that I couldn’t garden because I was going to a job that I like. Then I felt grateful. Both emotions were reasonable but only one gave me energy. Look for things that you have (relationships, places, things) that you are grateful for and spend a little time relishing this emotion. It’s fantastic!
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing; that’s why we recommend it daily.
— Zig Zigler
Message from Dr. Buchanan: I love this! And so true. Motivation is a feeling, and like all feelings, it comes and goes. There is a strategy in mindfulness practices called, “turning your mind.” This is based on the fact that our emotions do come and go. So we often have to turn our mind from the current state back to the state that we hope to achieve. Sometimes we have to turn our mind 60 times in one hour... yep, once a minute. That’s normal. Just like bathing daily. Laugh at your own failings or quirks. In the process of change, as you stumble, try to react by saying, “There I go again.” With gentleness, grace, and conviction, things will change!
There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.
— Andre Gide
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Although it won’t be posted yet, I’m writing this on Halloween. A holiday which, in a sense, makes fun of fear! What if we could begin to laugh at our own fears? They would diminish in size. It is by avoiding what we fear that the fear grows. Therefore, avoidance really doesn’t work. Pick one thing this week that you have been avoiding but would benefit you to approach; such as calling a friend, joining a group, taking a class, asserting yourself. Then notice the difference of avoiding versus approaching a fear.
Recovery feels like sh*t. It didn’t feel like I was doing something good; it felt like I was giving up. It feels like having to learn how to walk all over again.
— Portia de Rossi
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Recovery is hard, but it can also bring laughter and a sense of belonging...to yourself. One goal of recovery is to know yourself so well that you can laugh at your own failings or quirks. In the process of change, as you stumble, try to react by saying, “There I go again.” With gentleness, grace, and conviction, things will change!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.
— Philippians 4:8
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
Message from Dr. Buchanan: The thoughts you have today will affect tomorrow. Notice that thought and belief are two different things. It is okay to start thinking things today that you don’t yet believe. A thought is a behavior that you can create on purpose or automatically by habit. Every time you have the same thought, the structures in your brain related to that thought strengthen. Start building new structures in your brain by thinking new thoughts on purpose. Don’t wait for your thoughts to change on their own, they don’t!
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.
— Theodore Roosevelt
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Of course I’m sympathetic to the fact that others in your life may have hurt you or let you down. However, you deserve to live the life that YOU create. Not the life created by others. Are you holding onto messages about yourself that you learned from others? Do you really want to give them that much power? Is it time to create your own truths? Begin today by telling yourself something that you know you’ve always needed to hear. It really doesn’t matter if you believe it yet. You will!
For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
— Audrey Hepburn
Message from Dr. Buchanan: Of course people will notice your appearance, but what they will truly be impressed by, is how they feel while in your presence. Do they feel like you listened, cared, or did you make them laugh? This is what counts.
Be in the Present
“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
— A.A. Milne
Message from Dr. Buchanan: As the weather begins to change, one of my favorite things is a sunny day when the air begins to carry a slight chill. What a relief after the long hot summer. However, if I’m not careful, I can miss those days by being preoccupied and in a hurry. Through mindfulness, we are able to breathe in the experience. To pause, if even for a moment and notice the sun and air can bring a measure of joy to anyone’s day -- at least for that moment. Use the core mindfulness skills of observing and describing to yourself how delightful the weather feels. We spend so much time thinking about what we need to get done or what we wish we had, that we miss or barely notice the moments of our lives that are truly worth living. Truly enjoy your fall!
Connection: When you find yourself craving connection with another, look inside and check whether you haven’t in fact disconnected from yourself.
— Sidonie Bouchet
Message from Dr. Buchanan: The type of relationship you have with yourself HUGELY impacts the kind of relationship you can have with others. If you look to others to give you what you can’t give yourself, you are unlikely to fully believe them when they offer it to you. Begin with YOU and be the friend to yourself that you want to have in others. Do something kind for yourself today!