Commitment to our being
I have been getting asked a lot lately about how to get rid of anxiety. This is a hard question, because I don’t have a great answer. I don’t think that we can ever rid our anxiety. Anxiety has been given to us for a reason; it’s an alarm that goes off in our brain unknowingly, an alarm that nudges us to become aware, aware of what we need to do if there is a potential threat. That threat may be a fear that I am going to fail a test so I may have to study harder, or it tells me to get up and get going because I have an important function that I am going to be late for. It may warn me of a threat or danger, that someone is walking behind me and it doesn’t feel safe or may warn me if I am in a bad relationship.
Now, all of this is healthy anxiety. It serves a purpose. However, it seems like everyone has anxiety to levels that is becoming unbearable. What has happened to that feeling that we have been given is that it has been overused. We have created a society that has over triggered that anxiety sign, signal or whatever you want to call it. We no longer live in a cave man world where all we need to be anxious about is the tiger that could prey on us, or the stampede of wildebeests, or getting bit by something that could kill us. That anxiety was for survival. It kept us alive, by our bodies response to putting us into fight or flight, which is an automatic physiological response which gets our body ready for survival.
In today’s world, our culture and society is much more advanced, and we function at a greater capacity now, doing more things, creating more, and living with more. We live in a very stressed world, with information coming at us at all times between school, kids, friends, activities, dual working households, minimal communal support, having an “I can do it myself” mentality. Internet adds to the constant information that my brain is getting, and due to the level of information coming, the anxiety and stress raises, and now my body is so used to that “fight or flight” that it can’t discern what is a real threat. We as individuals leave little room for discerning the legitimacy of if what we are being anxious over is something to really be anxious over. We are too overly stimulated, and when we pause for just a second, we think that we are being “lazy” and judge ourselves for taking time to breathe, and then create more anxiety through those negative thoughts.
Today, I feel that everyone who is “sick”has some kind of a mental problem that precipitated the illness. The constant state of stress and anxiety creates havoc in our bodies. We are worried about losing our jobs, how we look in the jeans we wear, the pressures of keeping up with how my Instagram pictures look, breaking up with a partner, getting everything done on time. This wasn’t the case before back 100-200 years ago. Yes there were other worries, but the information didn’t come to us at millisecond speeds due to the internet. So this is how this works. Our mind believes what we see, what we feel. This brings us to fight or flight. Our body now is so used to stress that our survival instinct goes off more frequently. Our bodies are not meant to fight for life all the time. We have less time to think and process, so we can’t really tell ourselves if the threat is real or imagined. And if we do have the time to process, we are so used to sweating the small stuff, that we just think everything is anxiety producing.
Even me writing this is making me anxious!
How do we calm down from this overworked, over anxious state of being? How do we not be anxious anymore?
We can’t. We are hardwired for anxiety, but we can change the context in how we view it.
Acceptance to what is, that I have anxiety, that I may have a million thoughts going on in my head, but have a commitment to my values. Commitment to change is one way to relieve anxiety. How many of you live by your values? How many of you actually view your values and look at them when you are functioning day to day? What is a value? A value is knowing what matters. It is asking yourself, deep in your heart, what do you want your life to be about? What do you want your purpose to be?
I like to think of a value as a compass, it’s a way to our desired route. For example, I value compassion towards self and others. That will be something that I work towards every day. It’s aiming to live in a mindful way. Mindful and aware of the values we have, and intentionally living with purpose. When we can clarify our purpose, and learn our values, we can then set the way. Values are different than goals. Goals are things that I cross off my list. It’s not a way of living. Goals are steps on how to live by our values.
In this process we learn how to be mindful, aware of the here and now. It’s shifting from the “fast paced” to settling in to our current reality, not having to think 10 steps ahead. We learn to just sit and watch our thinking and detach from our thoughts. They are just thoughts, like sharks swimming in an ocean, just because we have them doesn’t mean we have to play with them. We accept the thoughts and observe the thoughts. It’s almost like closing your eyes, noticing the thoughts, and pretending you are outside your body noticing the thoughts. It is then we can discern what is real and not real.
When we live by our purpose, with observation and detachment from our thoughts that want to derail us, we become committed to our being. We then know what we want, who we want to be, and there is less anxiety because we have a deep understanding of who we are. Life is not going to be easy, and even though we know our values and who we want to be doesn’t mean we will not be challenged. But we will be living in our truth, and when we are in our truth, and in our knowing, we are less anxious about who we are and what we need to be doing.
Commit to yourself. Commit to who you want to be. And everything else will come along the way that it is intended to be for you. You will be able to cultivate what you want in your life just simply by committing to who you are; your life purpose, your desires, and your values.
*These principals are driven from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Love, light, and peace Jamie Kruse
We are all struggling to stay present in a world that moves 100 miles an hour. How many of you sit down at the end of the night and ask, where did the day go, or as you are looking at making an appointment in the future realize that the month is almost over? Time moves so fast, and before we know it life is passing us by. How do we take the time to enjoy the life that we have? How do we actually sit and enjoy the small moments that give us joy? How do we live with curiosity? How do we combat the stress of our everyday lives, while bringing awareness to what we are doing, rather than living like robots, doing the mundane routine tasks that we do every day?
The word mindfulness is everywhere. We hear it in self-help books, we hear it from our therapists, it’s the new buzz word. But what does mindfulness really mean? How can it help us live in the moment, and enjoy the life that we have all around us? How does it help us with stress? And why is it a useful tool?
Mindfulness is accepting the present. It’s living in the moment. It is not labeling an event as good or bad, because when we label we are judging and creating struggle. Mindfulness is simply observing.
Think back to a time where you were fully in the moment. Maybe it was when you got that first new car, when you met your first love, when you walked the stage for graduation, or maybe the joy you felt when you accomplished something. Or perhaps you feel fully present when you go hiking, or at the lake, surrounded in peace. In those moments, you may remember the exact feelings you were experiencing, what you were wearing, and who you were with. You may remember the smells, the sounds, and the sensations your body felt. You were in the moment.
Now take a moment and think about if you were to live every day like that, in the moment, not thinking about 10,000 things at one time. You could concentrate on what was going on in front of you, in the moment, not thinking about the next thing, future scenarios, making assumptions, or judging what was happening then and there. You just are. No judgments, no assumptions, you are in yourself and in the moment.
This takes the stress away for a moment in time, mindfulness gives you the opportunity to enjoy, or reflect without labeling the experience. It allows for curiosity because we are saying “who knows what this experience will bring”, because we are not looking for the answer when we are in the moment.
Children are a great example of living in the moment. They play, they say what they are feeling, they don’t have the capacity to label or judge their experiences. They simply are.
Is it realistic to live mindfully in every moment? Unfortunately no. We live in a fast paced technology driven world which consistently tests our ability to multitask. Mindfulness goes against what the world teaches us. Mindfulness is not multitasking, it’s simply being in the moment with one task at hand.
Mindfulness is a skill. It’s a skill that takes practice. So let’s give an example of how you can practice this skill.
Right now you are sitting at your computer reading this. As you continue to read, simply scan your body to see if you feel any tension. Maybe you feel a heaviness in your chest or a pit in your stomach. Or maybe you are relaxed. Simply notice and take a deep breath in, then out. Notice what you hear in the background. Maybe the sound of tv or music, maybe the sound of animals, or the clock ticking. Take notice as how you’re feeling as you read this, any emotions that may bubble up. Notice any distractions that are occurring. Maybe you are so enthralled in this article that you notice nothing but yourself simply reading the words on the paper. Notice the peripheral vision, maybe take a moment to look around, what do you see, what colors, what smells. Notice what your body feels like as you sit or lay down, what do your clothes feel like on your skin, or maybe you notice the warmness of the laptop you are using or the hardness of the desk you are at. Simply just take note of your present experience.
Mindfulness is the act of fully participating in your experience, observing your experience, and describing your experience. When you practice mindfulness, you will notice that no other thought comes up. You are present in the experience. You are just being.
In ending, mindfulness is learning how to pay attention and focus on the here and now. Mindfulness is a tool that allows you to be more aware of your physical and emotional conditions without getting attached to the judgments you may place on yourself. Mindfulness practiced daily and continuously can give you control over your destructive feelings and to live in acceptance and a place of gratitude so you can experience more joy in your life.
Love, light, and peace Jamie Kruse
The Spark within us
Well this is a first, I never thought I would be here writing a blog. I also never thought I would be in a position that people would actually want to read or hear what I have to say! I want to spread the light. I want to spread what I know, what I feel, what I think, so maybe I can inspire others. I want to help, I want to be a messenger. I am so, so , so, lucky to be able to be that everyday for people. I am sooooo lucky to be able to provide a space for healing in my office. Now I want to make a step and do that here as well, on this platform. I also want to share that even though I am a great therapist today, there was a time when I was so unhealthy that I would have been of no good to anyone. There was a time when I was so broken, and didn’t have any confidence to even think of who I was to become. Back then, I would have never thought I would be where I am today.
Most likely, anyone who meets me today would not think that I was sexually abused by a family member when I was young. No one would know the confusion I felt in loving someone who hurt me, No one would have ever thought I lost a finger in an accident caused by the person who sexually abused me, being bullied and harassed in school because I was not like everyone else. No one would have thought that my childhood was lonely, fearful, and sad. I was confused, and lost. I acted out as I got older, I didn’t know if I ever was doing anything right. I felt so broken, but I didn’t know why at the time. At home I was quiet, in a storm of emotions. I was unnoticed. My pain went unnoticed for so long. My parents didn’t see, were unaware, and unable to see past their own pain to even deal with mine. I had little friends to take notice. I was lost.
Childhood didn’t prepare me to be an adult, and no one taught me worthiness. I kept my pain inside as a child, and in young adulthood I was a total self fulling prophecy. My biggest fear was not being worthy. My actions and behavior were making me feel a total lack of worth. I was inflicting pain onto me, not knowing any other way. My worth was non existent, my shame ate at me, and I didn’t know what a healthy relationship was to save my life.
And here I am. Today I can say that I married a man that will protect me in and out. Today I can say I have two children that love me to pieces, and I know that that’s worth something. Today my mother and father can tell me that they are proud of me, and who I have become. I can create and set boundaries with my parents. I forgive my abuser. I can see my value and worth into everything I put into. I have a successful business that I have created from the ground up. I can experience joy without drinking my life away. I can meet new people and know that if they don’t like me that that’s ok.
Do I continue to struggle? Of course, I am human. Do I have setbacks? Of course, relapse is part of recovery. There is no perfection in this world. But I can say…
I have the confidence to continue to create the life I want, and not fall victim to the things that happen to me. I have created the love that I never got. I have created it within myself which reflects in my outside world. And I will continue to create..
I could say years of therapy saved me. But in that therapy office, I could have lied, I could have not accepted my part in my behavior, I could have blamed, I could have sat in my judgements, and shame. But instead, in that therapy room I chose to unveil myself. I chose to trust someone with my secrets. I chose to accept the help and the hard work. And I CHOOSE to save my self every day. I chose then that I wanted different. I chose to work thought my shit. I chose the high way, not to blame, not to be a victim to my circumstance. I chose to forgive, and to let go. I chose to see my trials as growth for me, I honor my path, and have learned so many lessons in all of it. I chose to take my pain and turn it into something good. I chose health, to take control over my thoughts and actions. I choose to grow everyday, so that I can continue to help others, to help you.
I choose to accept the gifts that God gave me, which are my trials that have led me here. I choose God. I choose to accept that he has given me all of these lessons, and I know in my heart that it is to spread his love and light to the world. I know this deep in my heart. I know that I am his, and I choose to serve him with what he has given me. I choose forgiveness everyday, I choose resilience, and I choose to trust myself and my intuition.
And now I choose to help others. I choose the gift that I was given to help you see that you don’t have to live in your shadow. That you can also choose, that you don’t have to suffer any longer. I want to tell you that you aren’t alone. You can rise above the pain, and live a great life. I want you to see your purpose, and look at the possibility of questioning why your pain is showing up and questioning its purpose. What is it trying to tell you? I know that there is bravery in that. I know that it’s hard, but I also know that you can do it. What you cannot do is do it alone. We all need help, connection, love, strength, encouragement. We can’t do that by ourselves. We need each other. We need a community of people to help us, and to love us.
May you find your spark, may you ignite it with love and compassion for yourself. May you find the strength to work at it. Listen to your voice, the one that speaks in the quiet. It will tell you what you need. You can live the life you want, I hope this inspires you!
Love, light, and peace Jamie Kruse