Inner Peace Podcast #6: How to turn frustration into flow

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Some quotes about flow

“You cannot beat a river into submission. You have to surrender to its current and use its power as your own.” ― Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), Dr. Strange

“During moments of strife and ‘dis-ease’, check your flow and redirect your focus to that which is naturally good.” ― T.F. Hodge

In physics, energy has two basic states: potential energy and kinetic energy. I’m going to use my Junior High definitions, since when you get into advanced relativity the issue gets wishy washy. Basically speaking, Potential energy is “stored” energy. Kinetic energy is energy in motion. In terms of spirituality or what I sometimes like to call “dealing with life,” I refer to energy in terms of “Frustration” or “Flow.”

Many people from gurus and philosophers to doctors and scientists have tried to find the best word to describe the ultimate state of happiness and peace. Some call it “bliss”. When I tried to think of it, the word I came to was “Flow.” After doing some research I found that many others had decided on the same word. In fact, my favorite is a scientist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who has done extensive studies and research on the subject of flow. I highly recommend you read some of his books, they’re fantastic. He has done some great work on the subject of flow.

The opposite of flow is frustration. When the flow of our energy is frustrated we experience a heightened sense of sadness, loneliness, anger, fear, confusion. Life throws plenty of obstacles our way, things that make it difficult to flow freely through life:

  • Loss of loved ones or precious possessions
  • Disappointments
  • New and unfamiliar circumstances
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Feelings of low self-esteem
  • Other people can make life almost intolerable

If we don’t transform our frustrated energy back to flow it can become stuck. “Stuck” energy is frustration that we are holding on to. Energy that is stuck becomes intensified. Sadness becomes depression, anger becomes rage, fear becomes paralyzing.

Takeaways:

1. Flow is our natural state of peace and happiness. “Flow” describes the free flowing of our energy. It describes the state of happiness, peace, connectedness, beingness, self-confidence and the like. If you think of children, they seem to be in a natural state of flow. They sing, dance and play spontaneously for the sheer bliss of being alive. Even as grownups “flow” is the most natural state of our being, though frustration seems to be more of a constant companion. Whereas children seem to be resilient in the face of adversity, adults tend to get ensnared by the drama of living.

Why are children so much freer, flowing and resilient compared to adults?

2. Frustration starts with resistance. Here are some different sources of resistance that we create for ourselves:

  • Avoiding potentially painful circumstances. When something bad happens, we have very natural emotional reactions. When we experience loss we feel sorrow. When we feel threatened we experience fear. When we need the courage to stand up for ourselves we feel anger. But to be quite honest, none of those emotions feel great. As time goes by we unconsciously think, “No, I don’t want to feel that!” We start avoiding thoughts, people, situations and other circumstances that might lead to these uncomfortable emotions. If our efforts to avoid pain get too extreme we start shutting out potentially joyful, life-enhancing experiences as well. The focus of your life can’t be about avoiding suffering, for a life focused solely on avoiding pain is no life at all.
  • Avoiding difficult emotions. Despite our best efforts, life inevitably drops painful circumstances on our doorstep. Those difficult emotions of sorrow, fear and anger naturally pop up. When we try to circumvent these difficult emotions by burying, avoiding or denying them, this creates resistance.
  • Judgments, assumptions, attachments and expectations. Children are free of judgments, assumptions and expectations. Their love is pure and unconditional. Adults however…our love is definitely not pure and is riddled with conditions. We have judgments about people’s appearance, behavior, conformity or lack thereof. We have assumptions that people see things the same way we do or that they should see things the same way we do. We expect life to follow our agenda for it. We expect people to follow the rules we have for them. We get attached to impermanent things — which is everything — people, places, memories, material possessions.

So, how to turn frustration into flow?…

3. Accept that flowing with life means taking the good with the bad.

  • Flow with all circumstances in life. Yes, we will do our best to create peace and happiness, but life will bring difficulties to our door, nevertheless. The point is to FLOW with those difficult experiences. When you flow with the good experiences you realize they won’t last so you make the very most of them.
  • Flow with all emotions that arise. For years I had difficult, painful emotions to deal with from my past. They were so intense I thought they would overwhelm me. Part of me truly feared those emotions might kill me. It was a silly fear, but it was very, very real. It prevented me from dealing with my past and moving on. This in turn made my “present” painful and awkward, and that made for several more difficult years in my future. But…I chose to face my fears head on. When I did, I realized that I am NOT my emotions. When they are done flowing, I will return to peace and joy. Also, rather than trying to hold on to peace and happiness, I flowed with those. This allowed me to make the very most of them.
  • Ditch your judgments, expectations, assumptions and attachments. Once you start paying attention you will be astonished at just how many judgments, expectations, assumptions and attachments you have. Ditch them every chance you have. Life is like a great ocean, and we are barely a bubble in comparison. It is better to accept life’s ebbs and flows and to do our very best within the great tides and waves the life moves us through.

4. Some other tools you can use to transform frustration into flow:

  1. Take a timeout whenever you need.
    • Stop. Interrupt whatever negative mental state you’re in.
    • Drop whatever you’re doing.
    • Breathe. Check in with yourself. Be present in the moment. Just breathe.

    Interrupting and Being Present may be the most powerful tools you can put in your “Happiness Toolbox.” They are enormously helpful for getting you out of your head and out of the stories that generate unhappiness so you can tune in to reality.

  2. Ground yourself with a powerful symbol, ritual or image.

    Being ‘grounded’ means being connected. “Connected” energy is energy that flows. Disconnected energy is erratic and destructive.

    • A symbol with special meaning. People use many things such as stones/crystals/gems, statues of Buddha, or actual symbols like runes (such as my tattoo).
    • A ritual that gives you a strong sense of meaning and/or connectedness. This could be meditation, prayers/”spells”/mantras, volunteer work, even yoga or hiking can be immensely grounding and spiritual rituals.
    • Root yourself in your Higher Self, Best Self, etc. If you constantly check in with, “What would my Best Self do?” you are more likely to make wise choices.

    I use all of the above, and the tools I use to ground myself change over time. My personal favorite symbol right now is the Tree of Life. I envision the roots growing deep and communing with the strength of the Earth, the trunk standing tall and steady, and the branches reaching out and communing with the light of the Sun. This imagery reminds me to flow with my own inner strength, and to connect with the Infinite Universe.

  3. Let go.
    • Judgments, assumptions, expectations.
    • Let go of the emotion. Sometimes emotions just have to run their course.
    • Let go of the illusion of control. Remember the quote about trying to beat a river into submission?
    • Forgiveness is a form of letting go.

    If you don’t let go, frustrations become like a poison that spreads to everyone in your life.

  4. Identify your triggers. Paying attention to your triggers will usually identify patterns of thought, behavior or recurring themes in your life. Triggers can be a thought, a certain person, buzzwords or certain kinds of circumstances. When you know what your triggers are, you can start cutting the frustration process off before it even starts.

5. Embrace the adventure! Whatever’s going on in life, good or bad, embrace it as an adventure. This attitude will empower you to make the most of the good stuff, and empower you to transform the bad stuff into something…better. Embracing the moment fully means you must let go of the previous moment, so, stop holding on to the past so you can embrace the present.

Homework Idea:

  1. Identify a frustrating circumstance in your life.
  2. Figure out what is causing this circumstance. Familiarize yourself with the thoughts, emotions and triggers that go along with it. Zero in on any judgments, expectation, attachments or assumptions you might have. Are you flowing with the emotions or not? Are you trying to avoid something painful?
  3. Plan some good ways to turn this frustrating circumstance into flow. I’ve given you tons of great tools above. Some final ones for turning frustration into flow are Gratitude, Forgiveness and Compassion.

A couple more quotes about flow:

“The task is to learn how to enjoy everyday life without diminishing other people’s chances to enjoy theirs.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” ― Alan W. Watts

 

 

Photo credit: Alex Iby

Inner Peace Podcast #5: How to love everything in your life

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Finding peace means perfecting and strengthening your ability to love life — the good AND the bad. This podcast shares ideas on how to love more good things in your life, and ways to love even the bad stuff. Find the peace you’ve been looking for by finding more in life to love.

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Inner Peace Podcast #3: Loving others unconditionally

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Podcast #3 talks about loving others — unconditionally. Not always easy to do so I share some great quotes and give you takeaways you can think about or practice in your own life. Loving others makes us happier so…time to bite the bullet and do it! 🙂

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Love yourself quotes

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Inner peace begins with an inner sense of love. Real love isn’t to be confused with romantic love. Real love starts when you love yourself and accept yourself just as you are. If you don’t love yourself it is because you are fighting against some part of yourself, and that is the source of all unpeace. As you begin to accept and appreciate yourself just as you are, the inner struggle quiets, healing happens, and peace returns to your heart and mind.

It can be tough to love yourself in this world. It seems like everywhere you turn some person or organization is telling you why you shouldn’t love yourself. These people will tell you you’re not smart enough, not good looking enough, not rich enough, successful enough, you are just…not enough.

Well, those are all lies. Anyone who tells you you aren’t enough, in any way, is trying to manipulate and control you. Some people want to manipulate you into giving them your money. Others want to control your inner will. Some mistakenly believe that by tearing you down they will feel better about themselves. So, in this world that so often tries to tear you down, I want to tell you you ARE enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful, intelligent, creative and special. Just as you are right now.

Learn to love yourself and you will empower yourself to accomplish all you were born to. Love yourself and you will awaken the greatness the Infinite Universe infused you with. Love yourself and you will rattle and stun the world so that light may shine through the cracks and bring hope to every corner of the world.

To help you on your path to growing self love, I’ve compiled these quotes by some great thinkers, and great movers in history. Enjoy, and feel free to share your favorite quotes about loving yourself in the comments area.

“Accept yourself, love yourself, and keep moving forward. If you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.” ― Roy T. Bennett

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball

“Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” – Fred Rogers

“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.” – Maxwell Maltz

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” – Jean Shinoda Bolen

“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer

“When you adopt the viewpoint that there is nothing that exists that is not part of you, that there is no one who exists who is not part of you, that any judgment you make is self-judgment, that any criticism you level is self-criticism, you will wisely extend to yourself an unconditional love that will be the light of the world.” – Harry Palmer

“A healthy self-love means we have no compulsion to justify to ourselves or others why we take vacations, why we sleep late, why we buy new shoes, why we spoil ourselves from time to time. We feel comfortable doing things which add quality and beauty to life.” – Andrew Matthews

“Our self-respect tracks our choices. Every time we act in harmony with our authentic self and our heart, we earn our respect. It is that simple. Every choice matters.” – Dan Coppersmith

“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.” – Stacey Charter

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Washington Thurman

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Perhaps we shall learn, as we pass through this age, that the ‘other self” is more powerful than the physical self we see when we look into a mirror.” ― Napoleon Hill

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face.” – Helen Keller

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay

“Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.” – André Gide

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” – Diane Von Furstenberg

“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – Carl Gustav Jung

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“The better you feel about yourself, the less you feel the need to show off.” – Robert Hand

“I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be embarrassed or ashamed of it.” – Johnny Depp

“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.” – Yogi Bhajan

“There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling leaves and remember that it is enough to be taken care of by myself.” – Brian Andreas

“Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao-Tzu

“I found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” – Kristen Neff

“Your problem is you’re… too busy holding onto your unworthiness.” – Ram Dass

“The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.” – Rita Mae Brown

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.” – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

“If you aren’t good at loving yourself, you will have a difficult time loving anyone, since you’ll resent the time and energy you give another person that you aren’t even giving to yourself.” – Barbara De Angelis

“It’s surprising how many persons go through life without ever recognizing that their feelings toward other people are largely determined by their feelings toward themselves, and if you’re not comfortable within yourself, you can’t be comfortable with others.” – Sidney J. Harris

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” – Anaïs Nin

“It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.” – Sally Field

“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs and habits – anything that kept me small. My judgement called it disloyal. Now I see it as self-loving.” – Kim McMillen

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” – Bob Moawad

“Self-pity gets you nowhere. One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world making the most of one’s best.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

Photo credit: @oddityandgrace on Unsplash

Heal the world…

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Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say,
but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.

~L.R. Knost

I just recently became aware of L.R. Knost as an author and now I’m already a huge fan. I will admit that sometimes I do feel dismayed at how broken the world is. The dismay comes from my feelings of how unnecessary it all is. The hatred, the anger and rage, the violence, selfishness, bullying… Letting people suffer while others percolate in disgusting extravagance. I don’t understand how people with so much can let others suffer. Not only that–profit from others’ suffering.

Dismay? Yes, I feel it sometimes. But we have to remember that “the world”… is us! WE and the lives of all living creatures we impact are the world. The world is people, and people are broken. Hearts and souls are broken. Hope is lost for many. Faith is a fairytale for many. So, we must heal people. Each other. We must bring back hope and faith in human goodness.

How?

By loving “intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.” Break down the barriers around your own heart. We build walls around our hearts so we feel safe, but that safety is an illusion, and we only trap ourselves in. Prisoners to our own fear. So, heal your own fears. Love your demons. Intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.

Don’t hold back your love. Not from yourself, not from anyone. Let the healing begin. Let the cycles of hate and anger past down from our parents and ancestors be put aside. Let us start each day fresh and new with love and peace in our hearts.

We can do it. YOU can do it!

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“Army of the Kind” quote

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I personally have a difficult time with the word “army” in relation to kindness. But I do love quotes that make you think twice…or more. This quote by Clevely Amory does that. The dictionary has several definitions for the word “army”. Most definitions have to do with fighting and conflict. One definition, however, is this:

“a very large number or group of something; a great multitude; a host”

This is the kind of army we need is multitudes — a GREAT host of people being kind. An army of kindness does no fighting. The people are simply kind, caring, compassionate. And this is definitely what the world needs. Now more than ever. I view our world plunging deeper into hatred and intolerance. The masses are plunging deeper into fear and disparity as our understanding of material wealth trickles up and out of the hands of those who work for it, and into the hands of those who hate peace.

So, today, let go of any urge to be unkind or to unleash your anger or frustration on others. Let go of the anger and frustration. If what you’re doing is creating frustration, do something differently. Walk the peaceful path. The path of kindness.

You’re not alone. The are thousands, millions — probably billions of others like you on this planet who ultimately wish for peace. So let’s do it, together.