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Beat Procrastination: How to Tackle Your To-Do List

by Kathryn Britt

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you won’t do anything with it.” ~ M. Scott Peck

Ten years ago, I stopped procrastinating. Lots of procrastination, then zero—overnight. Cold turkey worked for me. Now I hardly ever procrastinate.

Why the sudden change? How did I do it?

LISTS AND PROCRASTINATION

Like many people, I make lists, including to-do lists, reminders, shopping lists, wish lists, and my what-to-do-when-bored list. I completely rely on my lists to keep my life moving along.

My Dad purposefully decided not to make lists. He believed he could maintain his memory better if he didn’t rely on them. Could be true, because he always had a good memory.

Not me, however. I do seem to need lists to remind me about important to-do things. When I write something on a to-do list, I can get it off my mind for now, knowing I’ll have that reminder. So why not just do that important thing now instead of writing it down? Well, sometimes that’s not practical or possible.

But sometimes it is. Sometimes writing a to-do item on a list can actually be an act of procrastination.

Apparently lists and procrastination go hand in hand for some of us. My reason for making lists is to ensure that things get done, yet writing something on a list can also make it easier for me to procrastinate doing it. Once the to-do item is on a list, it’s off my mind—so it might never get done.

There’s something wrong with that picture. Making lists to remember to do things, and then avoiding those lists because of a procrastination problem? A deadly combo in terms of productivity!

THE INSIGHT THAT MOTIVATED ME TO CHANGE

Back to why I went cold turkey about 10 years ago. I had begun to notice that after I accomplished one or two list items, my mood lifted. I felt better about myself and about everything else. Even about the remaining items on my lists.

I had also begun to notice that whenever I was avoiding my to-do lists (procrastination), I became grumpy, moody, and felt a bit down.

That insight finally motivated me to tackle my procrastination habit.

I realized that procrastination is sort of like an addiction. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator. For me, it’s definitely an on and off the wagon thing. Just one conscious ‘procrastinate’ can lead to a down cycle.

Being on the wagon is healthier and definitely feels better. Life goes more smoothly for both me and the people around me. I meet my obligations, both to myself and to others.

TEDIOUS TO-DO’S VS. WANT-TO-DO’S

I used to think that getting rid of my procrastination habit just meant facing up to the many tedious or annoying tasks I had been putting off. Sure, life is obviously more pleasant if we can avoid doing those things. “Why do today what we can put off until tomorrow?” Or so we think.

But a procrastination habit can also make us put off doing more pleasant projects. “I’d rather be doing this [fun thing], but I don’t have time; there are more important things I have to do.”Sound familiar?

When did fun stuff get demoted from being valid to-do list items?

We talk about our “bucket lists”—things to do before we die. But why do we have to think about dying before we allow ourselves to put those enjoyable items on a to-do list?

Many of us have somehow come to believe that the pleasant to-do’s aren’t as important as those “should” items—the things expected of us. Well, if those items are so important, how do we get away with procrastinating them for days, weeks at a time?

Yet we do get away with it! Maybe not without some personal emotional fallout, but often without anybody else noticing or caring.

So maybe some of those things are not as important as we’ve been imagining, at least not immediately important enough to bump those more enjoyable tasks right off the list.

THE KEY: HOW I DEFEATED MY PROCRASTINATION

I no longer put only tedious chores on my lists. I also add pleasant, want-to-do items. Things like a specific craft or art project I’d like to start, a catch-up email to an old friend, an outing to the 218-flavor ice cream store, an afternoon of quiet reading.

My lists are no longer unpleasant or annoying. I don’t avoid them. That’s because my lists honor my obligations and also place value on my personal enjoyment.

Try it. Honor yourself and value your time enough to put those want-to-do items on your daily lists, in among the shoulds.

After beginning that key practice, I began to experience a pleasant result. Whenever I can’t face doing one of the tedious tasks on my lists, I pick out a happy-making task and it still gets me back on the wagon. I’m not procrastinating! I’m still crossing a to-do item off a list. It still results in feeling better about myself and about the day!

Now I watch for the downward mood shift that tells me I’m avoiding something. Maybe I didn’t even realize I was avoiding something, but I notice I’m feeling grumpy. I check in to see if it’s because of procrastination.

Then I do at least two list items. It’s so much easier if at least one of those items is something pleasant I’ve been meaning to do for myself. Then, yeehaw, the day feels better. I feel good about myself again.

It happens whether I select a pleasant to-do item or one of the more tedious tasks.

Another side effect—when I feel better about the day, I often feel better about tackling some of the less enjoyable items. An improved mood does wonders for motivation.

It’s all about building a habit of not procrastinating. Listing pleasant to-do’s helps establish that habit. Doing one of them gets me through the delay barrier. I stay on the wagon.

HOW TO DEFEAT PROCRASTINATION: SUMMARY

  1. Make to-do lists.
  2. Include happy-making items. Things you want to do “if only you had the time.”
  3. Do two list items every day—or more if you like, but do a minimum of two.
  4. Don’t skip a day—unless there’s nothing left on your to-do list! (If that’s you, how do you do it?!! I’ve never not had a list on the go!)

If you’re having a day when #3 feels tough, focus on the inevitable after-effect—a mood shift for the better. Keep your heart on that goal. And just do it!

You know you’re going to feel good about yourself after you’ve done those two items today!

Important: Please don’t promise yourself the impossible—that you’ll get through all your list items each day. That’s too overwhelming and likely won’t be successful. A goal like that could take you right off the wagon again, back to your procrastination addiction. If that happens, do two list items and call me in the morning. ;) .

What are you procrastinating today? What items are on your lists? What pleasant want-to-do’s will you add to your lists?

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.” ~ Emerson

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Simplify Your Life by Eliminating These 7 Problems

dr akilah el by Dirk de Bruin

Life has a tendency to become overly complicated and stressful, particularly because things change so quickly. I’ve identified seven problems that you can eliminate to make your life a whole lot simpler (which doesn’t mean boring or less interesting).

PROBLEM #1 – TOO MUCH RESPONSIBILITY

Think back to a year or two ago. How much extra responsibility has come into your life since then? You may have too much stuff, too many possessions, too many projects, and too many commitments.

Spreading yourself too thin reduces focus, increases stress, and lowers overall performance.

Too much stuff could include anything from a new cell phone, to a new swimming pool, to a bigger house. It might be nice to have more possessions and new gadgets, but they often come with responsibilities and maintenance. Ask yourself if you’re being “owned” by the things you own.

It’s also exciting to get caught up in many new hobbies or projects. I did this when I got into building websites. Before I knew it I was working on 20 projects at the same time and seeing minimal results across the board. It took me a while to realize that I was working like a maniac, yet none of my projects were anywhere near completion.

These days I’m only working on 2–3 projects in total. Not only do I feel more relaxed because it’s easier to keep track of what I have to do, but I can also see significant progress in my work month after month since I am doing less.

Try to simplify your life. Cut down your possessions, projects, and hobbies to relieve some of the responsibilities that you don’t really need to have.

PROBLEM #2 – LIMITING BELIEFS

Limiting beliefs are negative thoughts that you’ve come to accept as the truth.

Through years of social conditioning, media advertising, and peer pressure you’ve shaped your reality. You’ve decided on the things that you can and cannot do in your life. You’ve also very likely told yourself that you’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough to do certain things.

I used to have many limiting beliefs. I always thought I wasn’t smart. I thought I wasn’t cool enough to have many friends or be a person that people wanted to invite to events. I believed that I wasn’t attractive or interesting enough to ever get a girlfriend.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to make a steady income from my own websites, I’ve got a circle of close friends that I’m really happy with, and I haven’t had any problems meeting girls.

In short, the limiting beliefs you (don’t know that you) have could be holding you back from a lot of happiness, success, and even the life you’ve always dreamed of living. Take the time to identify and release them.

PROBLEM #3 – NEGATIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Certain relationships can become emotionally draining, and they can even leave you feeling mentally abused and take advantage of.

I used to know someone who I considered a good friend, but the reality was that he would only be a good friend if he wanted something from me. He would never call me just to hang out—only when he needed a lift or place to stay. Eventually I decided that it was time to let go.

I’ve also been in relationships with girls that involved unnecessary jealousy and competition to see who’s right or better.

I know that it can be very difficult to end a relationship like this because there are feelings involved. You have some sort of history together and you hope in vain that things will get better. But these relationships can be toxic.

Be polite and let the person know how you feel, but be prepared to cut them out your life entirely if they’re not willing to make any adjustments.

You’ll be amazed at how much energy and enthusiasm you’ll have after you cut out all the negative and emotionally draining relationships in your life.

PROBLEM #4 – HIGHLY STRESSFUL JOB

When you’re young, you choose your direction, but over the years, you may find that your job creates more stress than you want to deal with. It may even leave you feeling trapped and unhappy about life.

After high-school I went to work with my dad and sister in a supermarket we bought as a family business. Supermarkets are open 15 hours per day, every day of the week, all year.

We had management but we were almost always present in the business to ensure that things ran smoothly. I had no time for anything else but work and sleep for the two-plus years that I worked there. Fortunately the business made good money, but when we got the chance to sell and get out, we took it. Sometimes hard work and sacrifice are worth the effort, but there’s only so long we can sustain that.

Unless you’re doing something you love, consider looking at alternative jobs. Everyone needs money, and sometimes you don’t have immediate options. But you have the power to plan and work toward something different if that’s truly what you want.

PROBLEM #5 – DEBT

Debt enslaves you to other people. It limits the freedom and choices you have, and it might require you to pass on fantastic opportunities because you need to manage your debt first. Aim first to minimize it and then eliminate it.

The first step in this is to stop taking on any additional debt. Don’t buy anything on credit unless it’s a life-threatening situation. Especially stop buying anything like TV’s, vacations, and other gadgets on credit!

Secondly, stop spending money on all unnecessary things and start to pay off your debt as fast as possible. For example, you can stop eating out, cook at home, and use the money you save to pay off your debt.

The faster you become debt free, the faster you’ll be able to have more freedom to follow your own path. Once you pay off your debt, you can start saving money, both for an emergency fund, and to invest in your passions.

PROBLEM #6 – BITTERNESS

Sometimes things happen that are difficult to deal with, like death and other tragedies. Events like these can have a big impact on you—especially because you have no control over the situation, but somehow you still feel you could have done something to prevent it.

A few years back I had a decent amount of money saved up that I lost by making some bad decisions. At the time I thought I knew what I was doing, but reality showed me that I didn’t have a clue at all. After I lost that money, I beat myself up about it for months.

Eventually I realized that I couldn’t change the past. I needed to stop making myself feel bad about it and just make sure to not let it happen again. I’ve made my peace with what happened and now I make smarter choices with my finances.

Learn how you can make peace with your past and move on. You’ll be able to get a lot more out of life (and spread the joy to many others) when you don’t carry bitterness through your day-to-day life.

PROBLEM #7 – HATE

Hate is a poison that leads to anger, sadness and, ultimately, suffering.

If you hold animosity towards anyone, do the work to release it. That hate hurts you more than them, and it slowly degrades the quality of your life.

The best way to remove the hate from your heart is through forgiveness. Be the bigger person, forgive, and move on. Don’t focus on settling the score. Revenge only leads to regret.

If you cut out even just a few of these problems you’ll find that a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders. You’ll also have more emotional freedom to enjoy the things you love doing.

www.celestialhealing.net

For more tips on relieving emotional stress or depression please visit our Emotional Wellness Page or click on this linkhttp://www.celestialhealing.net/emotional_stress_therapy.htm

10 Ways To Deal With Negative or Difficult People

by Lori Deschene

I love her to death, but it’s draining to talk to her.

Every time I call this friend of mine, I know what I’m in for: a half-hour rant about everything that’s difficult, miserable or unfair.

Sometimes she focuses on the people she feels have wronged her and other times she explores the general hopelessness of life. She never calls to see how I’m doing, and she rarely listens to what’s going on in my life for more than a minute before shifting the focus back to herself.

I tell myself I call because I care, but sometimes I wonder if I have ulterior motives–to pump up my ego offering good advice, or even to feel better about my own reality.

I’m no saint, and if there’s one thing I know well, we only do things repeatedly if we believe there’s something in it for us. Even if that something is just to feel needed.

I thought about this the other day when a reader wrote to me with an interesting question: “How do you offer compassion to someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it?”

While I believe everyone deserves compassion, I understand what we meant after reading more. She went on to describe her offensive, sexist, racist boss who emotionally exhausts everyone around him. He sounds a lot more hateful than my friend, who is, sadly, just terribly depressed.

But these people have one thing in common: boundless negative energy that ends up affecting everyone around them.

So today I started thinking about how we interact with negative or difficult people. People who seem chronically critical, belligerent, indignant, angry, or just plain rude.

When someone repeatedly drains everyone around them, how do you maintain a sense of compassion without getting sucked into their doom? And how do you act in a way that doesn’t reinforce their negativity–and maybe even helps them?

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Resist the urge to judge or assume.

It’s hard to offer someone compassion when you assume you have them pegged. He’s a jerk. She’s a malcontent. He’s an–insert other choice noun. Even if it seems unlikely someone will wake up one day and act differently we have to remember it is possible.

When you think negative thoughts, it comes out in your body language. Someone prone to negativity may feel all too tempted to mirror that. Try coming at them with the positive mindset you wish they had. Expect the best in them. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.

2. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.

It’s always easier to offer someone compassion if you try to understand where they’re coming from. But that can’t completely justify bad behavior. If you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).

It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. But I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.” This might help you approach them with both kindness and firmness so they don’t bring you down with them.

3. Maintain a positive boundary.

Some people might tell you to visualize a bright white light around you to maintain a positive space when other people enter it with negativity. This doesn’t actually work for me because I respond better to ideas in words than visualizations. So I tell myself this, “I can only control the positive space I create around myself.”

Then when I interact with this person, I try to do two things, in this order of importance:

  • Protect the positive space around me. When their negativity is too strong to protect it, I need to walk away.
  • Help them feel more positive, not act more positive–which is more likely to create the desired result.

4. Disarm their negativity, even if just for now.

This goes back to the ideas I mentioned above. I know my depressed friend will rant about life’s injustices as long as I let her. Part of me feels tempted to play amateur psychiatrist–get her talking, and then try to help her reframe situations into a more positive light.

Then I remind myself I can’t change her whole way of being in one phone call. She has to want that. I also can’t listen for hours on end, as I’ve done in the past. But I can listen compassionately for a short while and then help her focus on something positive right now, in this moment. I can ask about her upcoming birthday. I can remind her it’s a beautiful day for a walk. Don’t try to solve or fix them. Just aim to help them now.

5. Temper your emotional response.

Negative people often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily offer compassionate or get outraged, or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger or sadness.

People remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. If you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing.

Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact. If you’re dealing with a rude or angry person, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Dancing with the Stars is on tonight. Planning to watch it?”

6. Question what you’re getting out of it.

Like I mentioned above, we often get something out of relationships with negative people. Get real honest with yourself: have you fallen into a caretaker role because it makes you feel needed? Have you maintained the relationship so you can gossip about this person in a holier-than-thou way with others? Do you have some sort of stake in keeping the things the way they are?

Questioning yourself helps you change the way you respond–which is really all you can control. You can’t make someone think, feel, or act differently. You can be as kind as possible or as combative as possible, and still not change reality for someone else. All you can control is whatyou think and do–and then do your best to help them without hurting yourself.

7. Remember the numbers.

Research shows that people with negative attitudes have significantly higher rates of stress and disease. Someone’s mental state plays a huge role in their physical health. If someone’s making life difficult for people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves.

What a sad reality. That someone has so much pain inside them they have to act out just to feel some sense of relief–even if that relief comes from getting a rise out of people. When you remember how much a difficult person is suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing negativity, as opposed to defending yourself.

8. Don’t take it personally–but know sometimes it is personal.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you should never take things personally when you deal with a negative person. I think it’s a little more complicated than that. You can’t write off everything someone says about you just because the person is insensitive or tactless. Even an abrasive person may have a valid point. Try to weigh their comments with a willingness to learn.

Accept that you don’t deserve the excessive emotions in someone’s tone, but weigh their ideas with a willingness to learn. Some of the most useful lessons I’ve learned came from people I wished weren’t right.

9. Act instead of just reacting.

Oftentimes we wait until someone gets angry or depressed before we try to buoy their spirits. If you know someone who seems to deal with difficult thoughts or feelings often (as demonstrated in their behavior) don’t wait for a situation to help them create positive feelings.

Give them a compliment for something they did well. Remind them of a moment when they were happy–as in “Remember when you scored that touchdown during the company picnic? That was awesome!” You’re more apt to want to boost them up when they haven’t brought you down. This may help mitigate that later, and also give them a little relief from their pain.

10. Maintain the right relationship based on reality as it is.

With my friend, I’m always wishing she could be more positive. I consistently put myself in situations where I feel bad because I want to help, because I want her to be happy. I’ve recently realized the best I can do is accept her as she is, let her know I believe in her ability to be happy, and then give her space to make the choice.

That means gently bringing our conversation to a close after I’ve made an effort to help. Or cutting short a night out if I’ve done all I can and it’s draining me. Hopefully she’ll want to change some day. Until then, all I can do is love her, while loving myself enough to take care of my needs. Which often means putting them first.

I’ve learned you can’t always saved the world. But you can make the world a better place by working on yourself–by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your positive space. You may even help negative people by fostering a sense of peace within yourself that their negativity can’t pierce.

www.healingpowerhour.com