Category Archives: Choices

The Ten Second Rule

It Takes a Second

“Our thoughts are not our own,” the speaker said, “They come from all around us.” She went on to say that in order for them to become our own, we have to act on them. “When we have an unwelcome thought, we have ten seconds to change it. It doesn’t have to stay with us.”

Ten seconds…that is a long time. If we count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four-one thousand, five-one thousand, six-one thousand, seven-one thousand, eight-one thousand, nine-one thousand, ten-one thousand at a good clip, we get an idea of how long it is.

I have always believed that we have a split-second of time once a thought enters our minds to change its outcome. I call it the “Split-Second Opportunity.” Perhaps this is the time to which the speaker was referring. It is that single moment where we see in our mind’s eye what will happen if we act on the thought that has occurred to us.

During that moment, our past meets the present. Our automatic response is in front of us and we see what will happen if we choose to accept it. These consequences are then weighed against our beliefs, hopes, and dreams, and we go forward with what we think is best.

Or is that really what happens? Do we utilize the power that exists within us? Do we understand that we have the ability to change or are we simply living on automatic pilot, hoping that we will reach our destination safely? Are we allowing our past experiences and current circumstances to dictate our every action?

If not, we have the chance of a life-time! We can change our future! In this critical moment, we have the ability to break the chains that bind us down to misery and unhappiness. We have the opportunity to accept our own ineptness and turn it into strength!

Perhaps it isn’t that simple. Life is complicated. We try every day to do our best, but things get in the way. People don’t do what we think they should. We feel frustrated and upset when problems happen and it takes more effort and time than we had planned. We get down on ourselves, stressed to the point that we cannot seem to function.

Our automatic reactions are affected by our state of mind, physical health, and use of mood-altering substances. We may have major hurdles to cross before we can get to the point that we are able to even recognize that we have the power of choice.

And yet, what if it did work? Try the ten-second rule, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.  

Leave a comment – What do you think? Do we really have the power of choice?

Deep Breathing Brings Calm

Deep Breathing1

 

The teenager had been in my office before, but this time was different. His mother dropped him off at the door, and then was gone. Usually she waited in the car outside. He did not come directly into the room but paced back and forth in the hallway.

I waited for him to slow down a bit and then invited him in. He slunk into the nearest seat, his shoulders hunched over as if warding off a blow. I sat down across the table from him and scattered some colorful magnets onto the surface. I did not say anything, just built a three-dimensional figure with the magnets. Eventually, he felt comfortable enough to join me.

We talked about the problems he was having with school, his part-time employment, and especially his family. The more he talked the more relaxed he became and we were able to address the anxiety he was experiencing. I told him that there was something he could do at home that would help.

I had him lie down on the floor, flat on his back, and bring his knees up to form a tent, or upside down “V” with his feet flat on the floor. I told him to relax his shoulders, and put his hands on his stomach, then breathe in slowly counting to the number five.

His stomach rose with the inhalation, and then when he exhaled, we counted to five again. With each deep breath, his anxiety diminished and his tense muscles relaxed. The more he breathed deeply, the more well-being he felt. After only a few moments, he was ready to go forward and face the day.

We talked about how to use this technique, even if he could not lie down, the key being to breathe slowly, moving the diaphragm down and allowing the stomach area to expand. The vacuum created would bring air into the lungs. Then, as the diaphragm relaxed, the air would be slowly pushed out through the mouth.

This simple action decreases feelings of anxiety by providing the following physical benefits:

  • concentration on the breathing action clears distressing thoughts from the brain
  • the heartbeat slows down, decreasing pressure on arteries and veins
  • blood moves more slowly, allowing greater nutrient absorption in the muscle tissue
  • nerve impulses decrease, dissipating feelings of stress
  • as the body relaxes, the spirit calms

Not only did this young man feel the benefits of decreased anxiety, he was able to have renewed feelings of self-reliance. He had a tool that he could use at any time to help increase his feelings of well-being.

Give your soul a break today. Breathe deeply, for your emotional health!

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.

Leave a comment – How has deep breathing been beneficial to you?

Choosing Life

Choosing Life

Everyone should spend a week in a mental health unit! It is literally a life-changing experience; at least it was for me. The first time I went, the doctor who admitted me swore that I wasn’t like the others there. How little did he know! It had taken years to stuff my bag of emotions and develop the distorted thinking patterns I was using.

I was admitted for other reasons. The medications I was taking for health problems were out of balance, and I was an emotional wreck. The goal was to adjust things gradually until I was back to “normal.” My husband purchased a greeting card that had a picture on the front that looked just like our doctor. It read, “The doctor says that you will be back to normal in no time.” The verse on the inside quipped, “That will be a first!” We both laughed!

Life at our house was anything but normal. We had seven children ranging in age from six months to twelve years. The roller coaster ride I was on affected our entire family. My doctor finally realized that I was going through menopause and started treating me for it, along with my fluctuating thyroid, hypoglycemia, asthma, allergies, and developing arthritis.

The sign on the nurses station said, “What you see here, what we do here, let it stay here when you leave here.”  At the time, I didn’t understand. Now, looking back on the experience, I think differently. If more people had a glimpse of what those with mental illness suffer, perhaps they would get help sooner. I know it made a difference for me.

During my week there, I saw what happens to people who try to commit suicide and don’t succeed. I heard the horror stories of dysfunctional families, problems with the law, and poverty. I saw the scars, both mental and physical, carried like battle trophies from war. It was then that I decided that suicide was not for me, no matter what happened.

The hysterectomy I had five years later allowed my physical health to come back to me. For ten years, I had fought an emotional and physical battle that had occupied every waking moment. Now it was over. Finally, I could do the things I only dreamed of before! I had everything, I had my health! Unfortunately, that was not the case. I did not know how to live.

The day I picked up the handful of paring knives from the drainer and saw them in my mind’s eye going into my chest, I was scared. The sun glinting on the cold steel brought me back to my senses, and I called for help.

©2014 by Denise W. Anderson, all rights reserved. Subscribe today.  

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.