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Barriers to Mindfulness and Overcoming Them

mindfulness

Practice makes perfect. How many times have you heard that in your life? A lot of times we see people achieving things that look so easy, not even wrapping our head around how much practice it took for them to be able to make it look so effortless. Mindfulness is no different. Those that have been practicing mindfulness for an exceptionally long period of time often make it look and sound quite easy. But that is not true. Even they had to begin somewhere. If you have had challenges beginning your mindfulness journey, you are not alone. In this post I want to talk about a few barriers that you may encounter in your mindfulness journey.

Racing Thoughts

This is one of the biggest barriers that I have been facing in my mindfulness journey.  Many of us have so many things on our mind all the time that are thoughts are constantly bouncing from one thing to another.  These never ending stream of thoughts can be a hinderance to being present in the moment since being present requires you to focus on the here and now.   It can be a challenge to focus when your thoughts are all over the place, but it can be done.  It just takes practice.  This is much easier said than done but you must practice slowing your thoughts down.  If you find that your thoughts are racing to the point there you cannot focus, shift your thoughts to your breaths, the sounds around you, or even the smells around you.  It takes discipline but you can do it.

Not Enough Time

We all have busy schedules that often lends itself to very little free time.   It seems that there is always something to do or somewhere to be.  When thinking of being mindful, it is quite easy to feel like it is a chore – one more thing to stick into your busy schedule.  You will not get the full benefit of being mindful if you are treating it like a task and not something that is to your benefit.  My suggestion for this barrier is to schedule your mindfulness time for the same time every day.  Whether it is early in the morning before work or in the evening before bed, make it a part of your routine.  If it is in your daily schedule, it will become a part of your routine and not something that you feel needs to be rushed through. 

lady being mindful

Change Takes Time

Many of us want instant gratification.  Our phones give us quick access to our family and friends, latest news, and social media.  You can get almost anything you need in a few seconds’ time. Unfortunately, the practice of mindfulness is not something that will give you that instant gratification.  It is a process just like any journey or new habit that you embark upon. You must keep practicing mindfulness even when it feels like nothing is changing.  Remember that this is a process, and that change comes after consistency and time.

Doubt

Doubt is a mindset that can hinder you if you are not careful. It will have you so convinced that something may not work that you end up not putting your all into whatever it is that you are trying to achieve.  Doubting that your mindfulness journey will be beneficial will have you missing out on the many benefits that it has.  When you begin to doubt that something will work, you run the risk of not fully giving it a chance because you are already doubting that it will work.  Overcoming a doubting mindset is a feat in of itself.  If you choose to begin the mindfulness journey, try your best to push through all doubts so that you can reap all the benefits.

Distractions

Distractions come in so many forms.  There are the obvious distractions to mindfulness such as your phone ringing or being interrupted.  But things such as being hungry, being stressed, or being tired are also distractions because they take your focus off being mindful and onto whatever the distraction is.  The obvious remedy for this is to try to eliminate as many distractions as possible prior to practicing mindfulness.  Also, you may want to try only being mindful for about 3-5 minutes and then work yourself up to longer periods of time.  If you happen to encounter some of these distractions, do not be too hard on yourself.  Just refocus and try again. 

phone as a distraction

Have you encountered these barriers in your mindfulness journey? If so, how did you overcome them? Comment below if you have overcome these barriers or if you encountered different barriers.

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5 Reasons You Lack Motivation

lady looking unmotivated

Feeling unmotivated may be one of the most frustrating feelings ever.  You have goals, you have things that you want to do, you even make plans.  But then, when the time comes, you just cannot get yourself together.  You reschedule, you push back your timelines, or you just do not do anything.  All motivation is gone and all you have is a bunch of unfulfilled plans and goals.  If this sounds like you, you are not alone.  This post explores five ways why you may feel this way.

Lack of Self-Discipline

Any goal that you have that is going to require a change in habit is going to require discipline.  If want to start eating healthier, you are going to have to be disciplined enough not to purchase the unhealthy foods that you might prefer.  Self-discipline is a vital part of your motivation to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.  You may have to deny yourself of those things that make you comfortable but are not getting you any closer to your goals.  Many people fall short of their goals because their lack of self-discipline keeps them from creating those new habits or learning those new skills that can get you motivated to achieve your goals.

No Clear Goals

It is very hard to get motivated to achieve a goal that is not clearly defined.  It is important to clearly define the goal and how success will look.  Without clear goals you may know you want something different for yourself, but you will float through each day not feeling really motivated to do anything.  Real motivation can be found in clearly defined goals.  Clear goals increase motivation as it will make it more likely that your actions will be intentional as you move towards success.  Many times, there is a lack of motivation because, while we may desire a change, we do not clearly define where we want to end up.

Waiting for the Right Time

So many of us are guilty of this.  We are not truly motivated because we are waiting for the right time.  We are waiting for our kids to get older, waiting until we are totally out of debt, or for some other thing to fall perfectly into place.  Motivation can be lost during this waiting period.  This is because the right time never seems to arrive as other things always seems to come up and we push back out timeline more and more.  Life moves fast and time seems to move even faster.  The right time may never come so it is imperative to keep our motivation high by starting to work on our goals now.

Self-doubt

Doubt can keep you from doing a lot of productive things that can move you towards your goals.  Doubting that you deserve all good things that come your way and doubting that you can reach your dreams are all motivation killers.  Self-doubt will keep you from doing all that you can to achieve your goals.  Depending on the type of goal you are trying to reach, half-trying may be the equivalent of not trying at all.  Self-doubt will keep you stagnant in life and will deplete you of all motivation.  Begin that you can accomplish all things and your motivation will begin to rise.

Negative Outlook

Have you ever met someone who had a bleak outlook on everything in life?  Whenever someone comes with just a little bit of good news, they come to the conversation with a bucket of water to throw on your good news.  Having a negative outlook on life can limit any motivation that you may have.  It is much easier to be motivated to do what you need to do to meet your goals when you believe that you can.  Try to pay attention to your thought patterns and how you view certain circumstances.  Begin to consciously frame any negative thoughts that you may have into more positive ones.  Hopefully, this will begin to increase your motivation.

unmotivated young lady

What other things would you add to this list? Comment below some strategies that you use to increase your motivation.

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Free Yourself: 5 Benefits of Journaling

Woman writing in her journal

I have always been aware of the idea of journaling but I have never heard it advocated as a practice as much as I have this year.  I am sure that is due to the challenging year that this has been.  Journaling has been suggested by many as a healthy way to process the many emotions that may be felt during these times.  Many people often confuse keeping a journal with keeping a diary.  They are similar but the main difference is that a diary is a record of what happened.  A journal is a record of your thoughts and feelings.  There are several benefits to journaling.

Journal to Relieve Anxiety and Stress

Have you ever had so much on your mind that it was just too much to process?  And after you talked it out you realized that your issue was not as bad as you thought?  Journaling is similar to talking something out with a friend.  Anxiety and stress can be eased when you write out your thoughts concerning those things that are making you anxious.  Journaling can provide you with clarity if it is a decision or circumstance that is causing you stress.  Writing out your thoughts on the issue that is making you anxious could greatly assist you with solving the issue or allowing you to see the big picture.  Either of these outcomes can ease stress and anxiety.

Journal to Recognize Patterns

Whether we realize it or not, we all have patterns.  If you talk to your friends about a situation enough they can probably tell you where the situation is headed based on similar conversations.  Journaling can help you see those patterns for yourself.  As you write about how different situations make you feel or your thought process around certain decisions, you will begin to notice patterns.  You may notice that use negative self-talk or you may notice that you do not have as much confidence in yourself as you should.  Patterns can be seen as you write and then reflect on those things that you have written.  Reading past entries can provide you a new perspective on your behavior.

Journal sitting on desk

Journal to Become Empowered

Journaling can give you a sense of empowerment as you can write your deepest, most intimate thoughts.  Whether writing about your experiences or through journal prompts, you will begin to gain more clarity on how you think and how certain experiences have shaped you.  Journaling can help you discover more about yourself.  You can discover what makes you happy, what causes you stress, as well as those aspects of yourself that you wish to improve.  Discovering your personal strengths and the power you possess in these strengths is a wonderful feeling.  But discovering those areas that you may need to work on to enhance your personal growth can be life changing.

Journal to Track Goals

Journals can help you track progress toward an established goal.  After identifying your goal, a journal can help you determine both your good and bad habits that may be helping or hindering you from achieving your goal.  It could be your innermost thoughts or the company you keep but reflecting on past journal entries will help you to begin to see what your barriers are.  Likewise, you will be able to see who or what promotes a healthy path to your goals.  You will be able to learn a lot about yourself in the process and this will make future goals easier to achieve.

Journal In a Safe Zone

Have you ever just wanted to be brutally honest with someone regarding the way you felt but was leery due to the judgment that may follow this honesty?  All of us feel vulnerable from time to time.  A journal is a safe place to write what you feel in a safe space.  No one will see your inner most thoughts except those you choose to see them.  A journal is a place where you can be your most authentic self.  Feel free to write honestly as being candid is one of the main ways to get the total benefits of journaling.  You can learn a lot about yourself when you allow yourself to be vulnerable. 

Open journal on desk

These are just a few benefits of journaling.  Do you journal?  What are some benefits of journaling that you would add to this list?

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The 3 Types of Mindsets that Can Hinder Change

Your mindset can be one of the hardest things to change.  This is mainly due to the way that we arrive at our mindsets.  Mindsets are often formed because of our upbringing, culture, life experiences, and beliefs.  Mindsets tend to be deep seated and can often be a challenge to change.

I wanted to take a moment to discuss mindsets because you must be aware of the mindsets that you hold when considering how you respond (or not) to change.   Let us explore a few mindsets.

Optimistic vs. Pessimistic.  The optimist sees life through rose colored glasses.  Everything is good, and if something bad happens, the belief is that things will get better.  The pessimist believes that everything is always dark and bleak and if, by chance, something good does happen, they will believe that is a fluke.  When the subject of making any type of change comes up, it will take more effort for person with a pessimistic mindset because the first battle will be the negative outlook on the change.  You would have to get past this negative outlook before you could begin to take the steps to make the change.

Immediate success vs. Process.  This is one that I am currently working on.  The conflicting mindsets of a persons who wants overnight success versus the person that feels that everything is a process and success is attained one step at a time.  The good thing is that no matter what the desired change is, a person with each of these mindsets will try. The person with the mindset that everything is a process will be more likely to succeed as they will understand that setbacks and bad days are a part of the process of change.  The person who believes in overnight success will be more likely to quit at the first setback or if the change comes too slowly.

Hard work vs. Lucky break.  There are those who believe that success comes from hard work. These individuals understand that change is a process but that it also involved hard work.  Anything worth having normally involves some kind of hard work.  The person who feels like success only comes by the luck of the draw will not truly try to make a change.  If a half-hearted attempt at change is made and they fail, they will assume that the change was not meant for them.  I see this a lot when people speak of professional goals.  Some people believe in working hard to get the recognition needed to obtain a promotion.  Others believe that it is all about who you know, and skills and knowledge does not really matter.

Let us consider these mindsets in the context of change.  Can you really be successful with a diet if you believe all success should be immediate and that you will not have setbacks?  Can you realistically begin to work towards a dream or a goal if you believe that successful people are only successful because of who they know and not because of hard work?  Here are a few ways that you can change your mindset to see the change that you are working so hard for.

 

  1. Clarify what you want to change.  It is important that you know the why behind your need to change your mindset.  If you can identify the reason behind the change in mindset, the change is more likely to last.
  2. Make the decision to change.  This sounds like a lot like the first point but there is a slight difference.  The first point is speaking to knowing why you should change – this point is you deciding to change.  Many of us can know the benefits of a change and still not decide to make the change.  So, a definitive decision to make a change is necessary.
  3. Challenge your thoughts.  Any type of change can be hard and changing a mindset is no different.  When old thoughts that are connected to old habits begin to push their way in, it is imperative that you make a conscious effort to push back against those thoughts and focus on your new positive thoughts.
  4. Give yourself a break. Mindsets were not formed overnight, and they will be not be changed overnight.  Give yourself room to have a set back if you go slip to your old mindset and ways.  Just be conscious of this, reset, and move forward.
  5. Change actions.  Operate in the actions of your new mindset even if you are still working to completely change your mindset.  If you have determined that the change is your mindset is needed, begin to act as if your mindset is already changed.  It may feel unnatural at first, but you will eventually begin to walk in your new mindset and habits will begin to change.

What mindset pattern or patterns do you fall into? What do you think can help you come out of it?

Join me next time where I will be discussing lifestyle changes.

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Autism Awareness Month: Lessons Learned from Zion

If we were all not living through these unusual circumstances associated with COVID-19, this month would have featured a lot of festivals, walks, and other activities that seek to bring awareness to and dispel myths about autism.  Education about the diagnosis of autism and shining the spotlight on the individuals who have been diagnosed with autism is what this month is all about.  As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, I started to think about my 12-year-old son, Zion, who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and a few of the things he has taught me.

Everyone has hidden jewels.   If you ever met Zion, in the first ten minutes, you could probably tell me right off the bat the things he does not do.  He has a hard time making eye contact, he is not going to engage you in a long conversation, and he has a hard time understanding social cues and tones.  Years of advocating for Zion has made it to where I am his spokesperson, always trying to give people a different impression of him.  Zion loves to learn, my son is a fantastic writer, and my son has an eye for photography and videography.  My son is more than his diagnosis and people, in general, are typically more than what they initially present to the world.  I believe that there is something positive in everyone – you sometimes just have to take the time to find those hidden jewels.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  Zion is pretty even-tempered now but when he was newly diagnosed and before he started the therapies that helped him process his emotions, he would have meltdown and tantrums (and there is a difference between the two) several times a day.  Being the perfectionist that I was,  I would often add more stress on top of an already stressful situation because I would want to carry on with my day and complete my daily to-do list.  I would feel like the worst mother ever at the end of the day when nothing got accomplished. But I learned to change my perspective.  At the end of a tough day, my laundry may not have been folded, there may have still been dishes in the sink, and I may have never gotten to the store.  But Zion was calm.  And, most importantly, he had not injured himself or others during his tantrum.  The things that did not get done no longer mattered. And guess what? Now Zion washes and folds his own clothes, vaccums and sweeps the whole house, and can even make simple meals for himself. It gets better – don’t waste time worrying about the small things.

Everyone needs a cheerleader.  From the time I realized that my son was not reaching his milestones timely, I have had to advocate for him.  From going back and forth with the pediatrician about getting a referral to a specialist for Zion to be formally diagnosed to finding the perfect school for him, advocating is a full-time job.  But, everyone needs a cheerleader.  Confidence in yourself is great but having that cheerleader is what gives you that extra boost. Zion knows he is smart and capable of doing many things that others think he would not be able to do because of his diagnosis.  But me being his cheerleader gives him that extra boost because I am there – loud and proud – reminding Zion and everyone else of great he is, how smart he is, and how talented he is.  Just as cheerleaders stand on the sidelines and let the whole arena or stadium know how great their team is, everyone needs that person who encourages them.

I want to end this post by offering some words of encouragement.

Be kind to yourself.  There will be good days and bad days – count every day that you make it through as a win.  Don’t be hard too hard on yourself.

Accept help.  I often felt that nobody could care for Zion like I could – and to be honest, I still feel this way sometimes.  But I have learned to accept help from the people that my son knows and is comfortable with and that knows my son, his triggers, and how to calm him.  It took me a while but I finally got there. 

Don’t take the aggression personally – this is harder on them than on you.  Tantrums, meltdown, and aggressive behaviors are sometimes scarier for the child than it is for us as parents.  It took many therapists to convince me that Zion was acting aggressively at home and not at school because I was his “safe place” – a place where he knew he could release everything that was pent up in him. Don’t take it personally – your child knows your love is unconditional.

Advocate! Advocate! Advocate!  Resources for special needs children can sometimes be hard to find.  Ensuring that they get everything they need to reach their fullest potential can be very hard due to this lack of resources.  Advocating for your child will be the biggest “I Love You” you can give them. 

YOU GOT THIS!!!!  Being a parent of a child with autism has caused me to experience a wide range of emotions depending on the circumstances.  It has exhausted me, angered me, scared me, filled me with anxiety, and has even brought me to tears on several occasions.  But it has also made me excited as I look at Zion and the handsome pre-teen he has become, it has forced me to be creative in how I ensure he gets what he needs, and it even makes me smile when I realize that my son is a pretty cool kid.  And I know that – despite the frustrations and setbacks that he may endure – Zion will be okay.  

Celebrate your child. Let the world know how great your child is. I will start. Zion is 12 years old. He loves to watch YouTube, eat pizza, swing, put together 500 piece puzzles, and as I stated before, he even likes to do chores around the house! Zion is smart, loves to give big hugs, and loves his family. He is a great kid who smiles a lot and loves to make others smile.

Celebrate your child or tell how you spread awareness about autism in the comments below!