Detoxing Control

In order to eliminate some undo stress in my life, I have decided to take a “30-Day Detox Challenge”. Each month I will identify a poisonous substance that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in my life. After identifying the action or thought that is toxic, I will concentrate on removing the toxic influence and taking the necessary steps towards forgiveness. My hopes are that this journey will provide me with a new outlook on life.

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I start the month of October with one of my favorite quotes:

“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”   Steve Maraboli

Why is this one of my favorite quotes? Because I have a problem. It is a recognized problem, but a problem, nonetheless. My problem is control.

I need…

  • To have my days planned out several weeks in advance.
  • To have my sock drawer color coordinated.
  • To go to bed at night without dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.
  • To have a clean inbox for all five of my email addresses.
  • To know that my children are being respectful and mindful of their behavior at all times.
  • To have my closet hangers all facing the same way.

…and the list goes on and on.

I need to always be in control of my life and have a say in what decisions and outcomes come from a situation.  While I am a very organized person because of this “fault”, I am also a person that has much undo stress, very little sleep, and is challenged by decisions that are out of my control.

This past week has been especially difficult for me.  On Monday, I left for a business trip that has taken me to a different state for five days.  I think that most people would have looked at a a few nights away from home as a way to be held less accountable for potential troubling situations at home.  Instead, I found myself making a very specific list that needs to be completed while I am gone – chores, appointments, dinners, practices, etc.  My list was so complex that it took two 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of paper and a very small font to include all of the information that I needed to convey.  Don’t get me wrong… I believe that the list was necessary.  However, it was necessary because I have chosen to independently take on too much responsibility.  Had I shared most of these obligations with others (in particular my husband, who asks to be more involved) and not solely taken on so many tasks, maybe I would have the time and freedom to enjoy life’s little pleasures, instead of always working, studying, cleaning, or preparing things for the next day.  I admit it – I have only myself to blame.

This is why I am identifying “control” for the month of October as the one action or thought that is toxic in my world that causes negative experiences in my life.  I am going to attempt to focus on the things that are healthy to concentrate on.  I am going to do this not by changing the person that I am, but by redirecting my control in a different way.  I am going to focus on the things that I CAN control.

I CAN control…

  • How often I say “Thank you.”
  • How much time I spend worrying.
  • How many times I smile each day.
  • How deeply I breathe when I experience stress.
  • How many risks I take.
  • How many times I say “I love you.”

…and the list goes on and on.

Although this is only my second month of my “30-day Detox Challenge,” this toxin will perhaps be my hardest challenge in this entire process.  Control is apparent in every aspect of my life and has been a learned behavior for several years.  I think that control is essential in certain situations – at a business meeting, at a slumber party with several 8-year-old girls, etc.  However, my family would probably agree that this is my weakest trait.  The need to control everything causes my mind to simulate the “Energizer Bunny”.  It keeps “going and going”… a reference that a very special person once taught me (you know who you are)!  I have very little autonomy and freedom from my own will and actions.  By ridding myself of this toxin, and no longer being encumbered by a controlling behavior, I intend to find some inner peace and create a more inviting and pleasant persona.

“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”   -Daniel H. Pink, 

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MY REFLECTION of Detoxing Negativity and Uncertainty

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I made a promise to myself 30 days ago…

After much contemplation and self-analysis, I made a commitment to withdrawing an aspect from my life each month that is causing undo stress.   Today I reflect on the month of September and attempt to give an unbiased opinion of whether my journey to rid my life of “negativity and uncertainty” was successful.

On September 1st, I promised myself that I would awake each morning with a positive comment. The comment may be about my physical appearance, a congratulatory comment about having a productive day the day before, or simply a statement about how lucky I am in my life to be surrounded by such loving people. Regardless of the type of comment, the intent was still the same – become more self-aware and cognitive of the positive people and influences around me.

This past year and a half has been especially crazy in my life. I have moved to a new city (as if moving alone does not warrant enough stress), I committed my time to two professional associations (that of course include committee involvement), I started a new job at a company that I have admired for several years (doing exactly what I LOVE to do), and agreed to obtain a second Master’s degree (after completing my MBA only 2 years ago) – all of this while trying to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend I know how to be.  Although I took on each of these challenges willingly, sometimes there is not enough time in every day to equally support all of the things that we care about.

In retrospect, even with all of these additional responsibilities, this past month has probably been one of the most tranquil months I have had in a very long time. Giving myself one positive comment each day helped remind me that when we have self-doubt it is important to remember that “every cloud has a silver lining”.

Reflection on the “detoxification of my soul” over this past month has not taught me how to overcome the stress in my life. Instead, letting go of “negativity and uncertainty” forced me to take on a new positive outlook and embrace challenges. It reminded me that in order to define my own success, I must feel at ease with my own sense of self. Marrianne Williamson, a successful, spiritual author and teacher, said it best when she said, “Spiritual progress is like detoxification. Things have to come up in order to be released. Once we have asked to be healed, then our unhealed places are forced to the surface.” This journey is my own way of “asking to be healed” – one month at a time!

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Good-bye Negativity…Hello Uncertainty

In order to eliminate some undo stress in my life, I have decided to take a “30-Day Detox Challenge”. Each month I will identify a poisonous substance that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in my life. After identifying the action or thought that is toxic, I will concentrate on removing the toxic influence and taking the necessary steps towards forgiveness. My hopes are that this journey will provide me with a new outlook on life.

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Focus of September 2014 – Negativity and Uncertainty

It has been 11 days since I started my detoxification of negativity and uncertainty. As with anything you do, it is always easy in the beginning – staying consistent is the hard part. Each day I wake up, shower, fix my hair (trying hard not to make one single comment about how my hair seems to be thinner than the day before), get dressed in my “professional” work clothes (except for the weekends which consist of my Northwestern University flannel pants and matching shirt), and put on my make-up (carefully avoiding to mention the additional wrinkles around my eyes). I confidently make my coffee, sometimes read the Wall Street Journal, and enjoy some alone time before I have to wake up the 4th grader in our home, to get her ready for school. At this point, if there are no negative thoughts about myself, I am surely home free, right? I mean, where are we more vulnerable than in the shower, in front of the mirror, or when we are alone with our thoughts?

It is true that we become our worst critics while we are alone, naked, and picking ourselves apart like a vulture does the carcass of a dead animal. However, surprisingly, this is not when we are the most negative and uncertain about our lives. My first lesson in this “30-day Detox Challenge?”  We begin to show a fear of negativity and uncertainty, not as a natural human reaction, but when the people that we love the most begin to question us and have doubts about who we are.

This past week was especially trying for me. I have made a conscious effort to remain positive and not downgrade myself for the way that I look or the decisions that I have made. I wake up every morning thankful for the things that I have, the people in my life, and for opportunities that I have been given. Doing this “30-day Detox Challenge” has made me more self-aware and cognitive of the people and influences around me. According to Steve Moore, a personal life coach, positive thinking can lead to “higher productivity, better relationships, better health, happiness, and spiritual growth.” Why wouldn’t anyone want those things in their life? I will continue to keep my readers up to date on my progress at tackling the toxin of negativity, but for now my “Stuart Smalley Affirmations” (a previous character on SNL for those of you confused right now) seem to be working. I am a more positive person and I am more accepting of my flaws. The toxic feeling of uncertainty, however, is a completely different story.

For those of you that don’t know, I have a 16-year-old daughter. My husband and I are definitely considered the “strict parents” compared to some of her friends’ parents that let them run all over at night, have full access to all social media sites, and stay up as late as they want taking “selfies” and talking through Skype. We always felt as though actions such as those should be considered privileges for good behavior and good grades, not automatically given. Well, after this week of reflection, I must say that I have a whole new appreciation for my parents and the way that they handled my teenage years.

As a parent, I am always questioning my motives and decisions for why I make the choices that I make when it comes to my kids. This is the matter of uncertainty I have spoken so much about recently. I am uncertain that I am making the best choices for my daughters and struggle daily with how to help them become better people. We see their friends have very little restrictions and wonder if we should mirror those relationships. On the outside, it seems as though those children are very close to their parents, however, I am well aware that looks can be deceiving. I am also not naïve enough to think that their relationships are perfect 100% of the time.  And if sacrificing the safety of my children merely makes a closer relationship possible, then I choose a stagnant relationship with smart, mature, respectful young ladies.

Life today is harder on teenagers than it was when I was that age. There are so many more added pressures – as if making friends, staying away from bad influences, getting good grades, and making smart decisions weren’t enough. Now-a-days children are not able to hide behind locked doors. With social media, their lives are online – instantly. As I sit back and reflect on my success and failure of getting rid of the negativity and uncertainty toxins in my life these past 11 days, I realize now that it is healthy to have some uncertainty.

The important take-a-way is to not be uncertain about the choices we make as parents. We must have convictions in our choices. If we do not stand firm, then how will we ever persuade our children that we only have their best interest in mind. We need them to incorporate our life lessons while developing their own life principles that they feel strongly about.

Uncertainty is something that we should embrace. Why was I so concerned with being uncertain? Was I wondering if I was disciplining my teenager too much? Was I concerned that social media was rotting her brain (a strange comparison to the television 20 years ago)? Was I worried that she was going to make bad choices in life?

Yes… I AM uncertain about all of those things, but the unknown and uncertainty is part of the magic of being a parent. And I will never forget one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given about teenage girls….

”If your teenager does not like you today, then you must be doing something right!”

 

 

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Detoxing Negativity and Uncertainty

In order to eliminate some undo stress in my life, I have decided to take a “30-Day Detox Challenge”. Each month I will identify a poisonous substance that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in my life. After identifying the action or thought that is toxic, I will concentrate on removing the toxic influence and taking the necessary steps towards forgiveness. My hopes are that this journey will provide me with a new outlook on life.

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The year was 1999 and I was struggling with some personal decisions in my life. I was questioning whether or not I had made the right choices about my future. My mom, the most unselfish woman I know, told me that “we are our own worst critics.” At the time, I took this phrase to mean that she was supporting my decisions and that I needed to have more confidence in the choices that I make. I never truly understood the power of that phrase until I began this reflection.

As I sat here contemplating which of the negative influences in my life I wanted to focus on first, I realized that the most important first step is to focus on my internal feelings towards myself. I think now I truly understand the meaning of the compelling phrase that my mom once taught me. How could I possibly need to be reminded of the “good” in my life? I am a successful woman with strong convictions. I have a loving family, and beautiful, healthy children. Still every day I question whether I could be doing more.

Recently some words and feelings were shared in my family that made me take a long look at my intentions as a parent, wife, and adult. I began to question how I feel about others and most importantly how I feel about myself.   For this reason, I have decided to focus on the positive influences I receive from others in my life. Most importantly, I am not going to question myself anymore.

For the next 30 days, I am going to wake up every morning and say something positive about myself. I will remind myself each day how lucky I am and will be sure to not think any negative thoughts about myself. The toxin that I will remove in my life is negativity and uncertainty I feel about myself and my life. After all, life is what we make of it.

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Lead a Healthier Life: Take the 30-Day Detox Challenge

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Detox – what a strange word! With the use of social media, this word is taking on a life of its own. To some, it is the treatment necessary to remove harmful drugs, alcohol, and narcotics from our bodies. To others, it is the way that we cleanse our bodies of unhealthy substances by drinking high amounts of water. To me, it is the treatment to rid your body of ANY poisonous substance. These substances can be anything that influences negative or ill thoughts, feelings, or experiences in our lives.

When detoxification of our soul becomes necessary, it is important to analyze what is happening in our lives that is causing undo stress. According to the article, “Detoxify Your Soul,” by Whitney Hopler, a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com, “Toxic attitudes, behaviors, and cultural influences that you allow into your life put your soul in danger. You can’t avoid contact with such toxins in this fallen world, but you don’t have to be contaminated by them.” We can come together in a unified group and free our lives of the toxins that are poisoning our potential.

After much contemplation and self-analysis, I have developed three main action items that I will be taking in order to detoxify my soul and make my world a better place to live in.

  • Identify The Toxin
    • Each month I will identify one action or thought that is toxic in my life.
  • Remove The Toxin
    • For 30 days, I will focus on that one toxin and concentrate on removing the negative influence from my life.
  • Forgive The Toxin
    • I will be honest with myself and forgive the negative influence in my life. After all, the first step towards improvement is forgiveness.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, business woman, volunteer, and student, I understand that there will always be stress and confusion in my life. I guess the true testament is how I deal with these triggers. By identifying one toxic influence each month, and taking the “30-Day Detox Challenge”, I will be able to identify the negative influences in my life and also avoid creating negative experiences for others.

Join me on September 1st as I take the first step in detoxing my life…

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