Toxic relationships – both personal and professional – depression, oppression, being controlled, and abuse create a toxic storm inside us that feels impossible to overcome. It derails our future plans, generates hopelessness, and we end up lost with no idea where to go. We begin to feel suffocated and bound. Ultimate submission and self-sacrifice cause you to lose yourself.
So then the question is…. How do you find yourself and unlock your inner freedom?
In my coaching program Freedom Project, I help you do just that. The following steps are what we use to get to the bottom of it.
Step 1: Boundaries
How do you discern where your neighbor’s property ends and yours begins? What are some ways you protect your personal property and family? What happens if someone trespasses on your property that you have protected? Do you consider your life, heart, and soul precious property? What about for yourself – do you find yourself doing things or behaving in ways you wish you wouldn’t?
Without appropriate boundaries, we lend ourselves open for others to trample on and disrespect. It sends the message to others that we don’t value or care what happens to our things. It also sends this same message to ourselves. So the first thing we have to do in finding ourselves, is to learn to respect ourselves enough to protect ourselves. This includes establishing self-control which is more-or-less a personal inner boundary. If emotional eating is a problem, there’s a personal boundary we need to build. If someone is hurting us – another boundary to work on. If we find that we can’t control what someone else is doing, we need to evaluate what *we* can do in response as a healthy boundary.
Step 2: Learn Gratefulness
Do you find yourself feeling negative, irritated, stressed out, and wishing for more? In today’s current society of digital toxicity and media overload, it’s no surprise that we can be so covetous, ungrateful, and discontent. Then when you add dead-end jobs, oppression, relationship toxicity, and abuse in the mix, your whole world gets rocked. These environments are a cesspool for negativity and stress. Stress alone can cause negative thoughts and ungratefulness because we get into a cycle of the “I wishes.”
Instead, it’s vitally important to practice gratefulness, and here’s why – A negative mind never produces a positive life. Yup! It’s that simple. Even in the darkest days, God has blessed each of us in special ways. It takes a little practice to catch yourself – because most of the time we don’t even realize we’re being negative – that’s *just the way we feel.* So let me give you an example of how to convert your negative thoughts into grateful thoughts:
I live in an old rented home for a very fair price. After my divorce I didn't have much money at all. I love this little house for what it is, but there are a lot of things that I would like to be different. For instance - no dishwasher - and I usually have 5-7 people here for meals. I cook almost all my meals at home. Do the math :) I catch myself saying "OMG I hate not having a dishwasher! I can't wait to move!" But the reality of it is that it's not so much that I'm ready to move - I just get tired of dishes piling up when I can't get right to them. So what I say instead when I'm feeling that way is "I'm so so thankful for this house!" And that's it. I stop in my tracks and say nothing about the dishwasher and instead state what I *am* thankful for. And those feelings of ungratefulness literally dissolve instantly. I replace the negative with gratefulness! Often times it turns into an opportunity to laugh at myself :)
Step 3: Be Fully Present and Mindful
Are you focused on the past? Worried about the future? Ruminating on your mistakes or missed opportunities? Are you trapped inside and endless cycle of memories or forecasts that clog up your ability to experience the “right now”? Wishing you could change things that are out of your control? Does this cause anxiety and frustrations that take your mind off your current moment in time?
When we focus on times that are not the present, we forget about the RIGHT NOW and what we are in control of RIGHT NOW. We aren’t focusing on who we are in the present – we get caught up on what we’ve been in the past or what someone else wants us to be. We need to evaluate what’s before us and acknowledge what we can and can’t control. A great way to learn how to do this is through mindful meditation. Being fully present allows you to see what God is doing around you. It assists with gratefulness, and steers you away from fear. Which leads me to step 4.
Step 4: Face F.E.A.R.
Are you paralyzed by thoughts? Do you get that sick feeling in your stomach and tingling all over your body when facing the “what ifs”? Are you spinning your wheels because the opportunity to change terrifies you so much that you hold back and don’t let go? Are you so afraid of confronting challenges that instead of steaming ahead you park it where you’re at? Do you hold beliefs about that thing you’re afraid of that may or may not be true?
F.e.a.r. can paralyze us (literally.. think of deer in the headlights). We can spend our entire lives paralyzed by fear or we can push forward and find out the truth.
A negative mind never produces a positive life.– Anonymous