Test Blocks and Elementor

How to Adapt to Life’s Changes Nature can teach us much about adapting to and embracing change in life and growing from it. As the seasons begin to change, it is the perfect time to reflect on your life and the changes you want to make. I love living in the mountains in the autumn, when the trees begin their transition from summer to winter. The bright colors of the leaves are a sight to behold. When I was little, I often wondered, “What are trees thinking during this time?” A child’s sentiment makes for a perfect analogy regarding life’s changes. Play along with me as I interpret what the trees may be contemplating: As the leaves fall from the trees, they begin reflecting on the changes they have made from the previous seasons—both good and bad. Then they turning these changes into lessons to be learned to expand their “tree soul.” They know that as they release their leaves, they also release any negativity limiting their growth. By embracing change, they let go of the old to become the new tree in the spring. Perhaps they find themselves digging deeper into the soil for more nutrients as the winter snow blankets them. They may be contemplating what changes they need to make to grow better when the warmer weather returns. In which direction should their branches grow to get more sunlight in the spring? What we can learn from the trees There comes a time in everyone’s life when we pause and ponder our present situation. During these moments of reflection, we may feel a sense of dissatisfaction and an inner void, which can adversely affect our overall health and well-being. We come to a place where we realize that our lives have become a series of events that merely mimic being alive. When we reach this point, it can be overwhelming and even devastatingly sad. We look back on all the decisions that have led us to where we are today. We realize that our lives no longer nourish our souls; in fact, we are starving. Unlike the trees in autumn, we tend to hold onto our leaves instead of letting go. Most of us simply bury them deeper and deeper within ourselves, especially the negativity. What I mean is that we hold onto our experiences, even those that may not be true, and that shapes our perception of those events. How easy it is to misinterpret an email, thinking somebody is being mean when, in fact, it was only your interpretation; it wasn’t true at all. Think about it: when we hold on to our negative experiences, that also includes all the attached emotions that influence how we now perceive life. For example, we hold on to feelings of mistrust and being hurt; as a result, we become bitter and skeptical about things we used to get pleasure from. To make matters worse, we replay those experiences in our minds over and over. And let me remind you: the experience only happened once, so why the need to torture ourselves by reliving it hundreds of times over many years? Over time, this becomes the heavy baggage we carry with us, thus preventing us from experiencing new, amazing things that could make us feel alive. One reason for this is that instead of embracing change, many people fear change, loss, failure, and losing what they have. But the truth is, all things change and evolve. All we really ever have is ourselves and our willingness to adapt, extract the best from our experiences, and grow from them. Embracing Change By embracing change with excitement, like a curious child, it can bring a life full of hope, passion, and renewal. It’s essential to consider that everything in life is related to balance.Even the worst situations, in retrospect, can be viewed as the best thing that ever happened. These experiences allowed life to be viewed from a different perspective that may not have been imaginable before. They offer new opportunities and adventures that can spark curiosity and excitement about what lies ahead. The challenge is to keep your eyes open to the opportunities being presented to you, even in the face of negative events. While it may appear undesirable to be virtually pushed off a cliff, the real magic happens when you realize you can fly!

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What Could Your Anger Be Telling You?

Mind Expansion & Perception of Anger Has anyone ever told you that you should learn to suppress your anger? Perhaps even invest in anger management classes? Or have you told this to someone you know? Before we continue, if anger results in physical or mental abuse, please seek professional help immediately. With that said, this extreme and dangerous form of anger is not what I would like to discuss here. Though even in that extreme expression of anger, one should really be asking, how did that abusive person get that way? Whether we are talking about chronic low-level anger or an outright abuser, there is always a root cause that triggers the feeling and, thus, the behavior. However, for the purposes of this article, I’d like to focus on the level of anger and frustration that we all experience at any given time and for reasons that are often surprising to us! We have all experienced anger that resulted in the occasional outburst, followed by regret and many apologies. Or the anger could present itself through the welling up of tears after inevitably choking down the anger, not truly understanding the emotional damage that this suppression could cause.  Which is the diminishment of anger from the chronic frustration that can lead to internal despair and resentment. When you reach this point, you begin to feel like giving up, and once this occurs, it isn’t surprising that depression is not far to follow. Since childhood, we have been taught that anger is bad, right? Right? But is it really? Is it possible that anger in and of itself is simply your inner self alerting you that something must change? Whether physical or emotional, something in your life, some circumstance, some situation you find yourself in, something you require, or even something painful needs your immediate attention! In other words, could the emotion of anger be alerting you that your personal well-being or health is in jeopardy? Let’s use a physical example: Let’s say if you were stuck in quicksand, you would no doubt feel panic and fear. Though completely normal and understandable, there is a problem when fear is the front-line emotion.  Since fear often turns off the flow of your rational thought process, you could become paralyzed and in quicksand; this would indeed be a problem. But if you could channel that fear into something that could work for you, what emotion do you think that would be? With pinpoint focus and determination to live, the emotion of anger would allow you to quickly and rationally think of a way out of the quicksand. With the increasing strength and willpower this emotion can evoke, your chances of success are now in your favor. Now, the key terms here are determination and focus. This is because determination requires you to be focused, thus turning on the rational thought process. Anger in this manner would be very productive. Okay, I can hear you now, “But I’ve seen angry people do VERY irrational things!” And you’d be right because when you have anger without determination and focus (turning off the rational thought process), then it becomes destructive, just like the abuser I mentioned at the beginning of this article. The difference is subtle but vital to understanding how anger can either work for you productively or against you, creating utter chaos. Consider these reactions and outcomes if you were trapped in imaginary quicksand: →Fear and panic paralyze you, and you simply sink. In other words, you do nothing to change your situation.  Result: Destructive; Giving up. Can you think of any situations in your life right now that you want to change, but you are so paralyzed with fear that you aren’t able to make those changes? →Unfocused anger at your situation results in chaotic flailing in the quicksand, resulting in sinking even faster than doing nothing at all. Result: Destructive; resulting in a faster death. Have you ever been so discouraged and unhappy in a life situation that you lacked the greater vision of what you really desired, thus frequently having outbursts towards those you love, even strangers? →Determined anger, which focuses on a productive solution to your situation and thus increases your energy needed for strength, stamina, and, more importantly, your mind becomes extremely alert so you can rationally find a way out of the quicksand, resulting in saving your life. Result: Constructive; life renewed.   Can you recall a time when you knew a change was needed, whether to improve your health and well-being, change your financial situation, or even your relationship(s)? You had to reach a point where you were absolutely and unapologetically ready for a change and decided to plan your next step, leading you toward your desired goal. We don’t give that emotion that ignites that drive much thought, but guess what? That focused emotion is usually anger. You felt it and used it productively in your favor. And at that moment, something new and wonderful had occurred – Focused Mind Expansion Focused Mind Expansion In life, often before mind expansion is about to occur, anger is not far away since you are aware that you need to change your current life circumstance but are also unsure how to go about it—much like being stuck in imaginary quicksand. Those who are ready for the boundlessness of mind expansion often experience anger. However, some may feel this is counterproductive since many equate mind expansion to the new age idealism of unlimited and constant love. Yet, without anger, there would be no understanding of what love is, much like with Yin and Yang. Anger, though it can be destructive, is also extremely constructive, but only if it is used to propel positive change. Think about it. If you find you are asking questions about your life that aren’t answered to your satisfaction, then you are on deck for inevitable change and growth— thus expansion. Though usually met with opposition as you strive to capture individual thought, this can also become your personal quicksand.

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Discover the Stress in Your Life

And It Is Likely In Your Own Home! By Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH Sometimes many of our frustrations are related to insignificant things in our life that we have ignored or overlooked. For example: How many times have you bumped your head on the bottom of the cabinet while reaching for something? And you do this all the time! Maybe every time you move a piece of clothing in your closet three other pieces falls off the hangers. Don’t you just hate that? Or perhaps your closet is so full that finding anything is nearly impossible, but when you do finally see that sweater you are looking for, of course, it is on the top shelf. So when you reach for it inevitably causes all of your other sweaters to come tumbling down on your head! Ugh! How about those semi-broken machines, gadgets, or appliances that you continue to hold on to? That relic of a phone you still “might use” one day, or the five calculators living in different rooms of your house. Are you still hanging on to old VHS tapes? Not to mention all those cords, wires and cables that you really don’t know what they’re for, but keep them anyway, well, just in case you may need them. Sound familiar? You know it does 🙂 I had a semi-broken printer that I was determined to keep. It still printed okay, but the little digital menu window no longer lit up and this made printing anything a bit of a challenge because I’d have to keep tapping on it hoping that I’d eventually tap on just the right spot so the printer would work. So what did I do?  I avoided printing whenever I could so as not to get annoyed. There were times that I even went to Staples to print out the materials I needed! And when asked why I don’t buy a new printer my response was, “Well, the printer still kind-of works and I don’t really want to spend the extra money.” How many times have you said something like that? But is all of the frustration, time and effort involved in going to the store to print worth not spending money on a new printer? And keep in mind, it costs money to drive to the store and print documents at the local Staples. How many items do you have in your home right now that cause you frustration, but you continue to hang onto them? And while we are on the subject of holding onto things, how many things do you have in your closet that you haven’t worn in months or years? Or worse, how many things in your home have you not looked at or used for years (sometimes decades) yet you continue to hold onto them? Check out these statistics – Did you that: Now is it possible that this is connected to some of the stress we experience on a daily basis? Well, in fact, a recent survey conducted by an Online Internal Research Team for the Huffington Post, polled 1,000 U.S. adults and asked how stressed they were on any given day. The results were extremely revealing and in line with other similar surveys and studies. Without a doubt, Americans are stressed out! The data showed that a shocking 91 percent of Americans felt stressed about something that had occurred in the past month, and 77 percent said that they experienced daily stress! And here is the telling part. Of those who experienced stress, nearly one-third said they were extremely stressed by their homes and the lack of organization. According to the survey, 87 percent of women and 81 percent of men reported not just stress but also anxiety over home upkeep. For me, it wasn’t an issue of cleanliness, but rather one of clutter. There were just too many unnecessary things scattered about my home! Over the past few years, I have been steadily reducing the number of dust-collecting “things” that no longer serve a purpose in my life. And it has literally been a revelation. For the most part, I now only have things that I really want and use. I know exactly where they are and cleaning has become a joy rather than a burden. It’s true what they say – Reduce the clutter in your life and it truly does reduce the clutter in your mind! Minimizing your belongings not only greatly improves your living condition, but also gives you a sense of change, allows for a cleaner living environment, and can even increase your focus and clarity. All you need to be successful is to have the inner strength to let go of the things that no longer serve you or cause stress in your life. Are you ready to reduce some stress? Part 1: Discover What’s Really in Your Home Now on the surface, this may seem like an obvious and easy activity to take part in, yet it is one that so many regularly procrastinate about though it could dramatically improve their lives.  So here are some suggestions that can help get you started. First, give yourself a few days to really observe what brings on unnecessary stress and the items that might reduce this stress if they were to be removed from your life. Take note of what annoys you on a daily basis.  Some things may be obvious to you, while others may not.  Here are some questions to ask yourself: Part 2: Begin the Process of Letting Go I know that it can be difficult to let some things go, but when you really question why you are holding onto them and begin the process of lightening the load in your living environment (including your car) it will get easier. The first step is to make the decision that today you will let go of some of the things in your life. You may find that you just aren’t ready to release some items and that’s okay. Simply come back to

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Emotions and Truth: Our Human Experience

What Really Drives Our Emotions? (You can listen to Holistic Health Radio for the audio version of this article – and a bit more!) Emotions spontaneously arise throughout each day despite our earnest efforts to control them. They often surface without warning, whether we want them to or not. Fortunately, many of these emotions translate as pleasurable ones – feelings of joy, contentment, and love. However, like it or not, there are times when less than desirable emotions come forth – anger, frustration or possibly fear.  But experiencing these unpleasant emotions is not necessarily a bad thing. Emotions play a major role in who we are as individuals, and are the driving force behind how we interpret events we encounter. For example, when examining the idea of perception I may announce, “It’s winter again and the snow is coming.” I will no doubt receive a diverse assortment of responses. For some, the thought of winter brings about great excitement.  “I can’t wait for the snow! I can’t wait to get out on the ski slopes!”  “It’s my favorite time of the year. I can’t wait for the holidays!” While others have an opposite response.  “Oh no! It’s cold and my hands and feet are always freezing. I have to bundle up every time I go outside and it is just miserable.” “All I can think about is the added chore of shoveling the driveway.” For some, the winter may be associated with a tragic incident that occurred during a snowstorm so the winter months and snow act as a reminder of that grievous event.   So the responses to my statement can vary quite a bit, and although we can view this as nothing more than different points of view, the bottom line is, why are there so many different opinions and where do they come from? Is anyone position right or wrong?  Are we all right?   Of course, there are many obvious reasons why someone might experience a particular feeling, but there is also something a bit deeper. It is not just about how we interpret the spoken word, but also how we perceive it. How we react to the statement “It’s winter again and the snow is coming,” is based on our interpretation, which in turn is going to determine the emotions that are partnered with the statement.   The question then becomes, is our reaction based on reality? In the simplest of terms, we can conclude that the reason for so many different points of view is that we each possess our own personal life experiences. There are many books, published research studies, and countless opinions surrounding this topic, but basically, it all comes down to personal recollection and what we remember about various life events, what we felt at a given moment in time, and what we may have seen.   So what drives the emotions that are based on our life experiences? Where is the connection?  Why is it that we can have such a strong reaction to a single statement based on a past experience that in reality may not have occurred exactly as we remember?   How many times have you felt that you are just not going to do something because it brings up a memory of a past event that you do not want to revisit?  “I just can’t do it,” you say. But with this attitude, you could be closing doors on some amazing opportunities that could greatly enhance your life, simply because you fear a negative outcome when, in fact, the opposite could very well be true. Many of us live our lives in this uneasy state and then find ourselves incapable of responding to a particular situation. Often, in a case such as this, we begin to listen to the opinions of others; but of course, the opinions of other individuals are based on their personal experiences, interpretations, and perceptions. There are those like Dr. Candace Pert, author of Molecules of Emotion, and Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, who believe that our bodies are alive with emotions down to a cellular level. However, saying that emotions are encapsulated even to this level may still be very limiting because cells, the foundation of physical life, do not account for our energetic level. Or do they? What really drives our emotions?   Dr. Candace Pert found that every cell in our body expresses the emotions that we experience.  In other words, emotions are not just located in the brain in the form of interpretations, they exist throughout our bodies. If this is true, then there must be an energetic force present. But where does this energy come from? I believe that our essence is indeed a non-localized interrelated dependent mechanism that only works optimally when all parts are fully functional. What does this mean? It means that while most of modern medicine focuses solely on the physical, down to the cellular level, without a connection to the energetic level true human health can never be achieved. How do we know if there is a healthy functioning connection between the two? The answer lies in our emotions. Emotions in and of themselves are really nothing more than a type of communication system that allows us to connect the different aspects of ourselves. Emotions, in a way, are alive. They are the language of our totality, but they need to be interpreted, and this can be tricky. On the surface, this sounds like an easy task, but you don’t have to dig too deep to realize that our interpretations may change with varying circumstances. This is why we often seek counsel to help us organize and better understand our own emotions, and why at times we seem unable to control them. There are many instances when two individuals may have the exact same experience, but because interpretation is unique to each, they will not describe the particular experience in exactly the same terms. One may say, “I just don’t understand why she is so upset

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Challenging Your Fears!

Going full circle, let’s once again talk briefly about adaptability. Though adaptability can be one of your greatest strengths, it can also be one of your greatest weaknesses. Because by adapting to a life situation long term simply to maintain a sense of security, despite leaving you feeling uninspired and drained, will over time deplete any feeling of well-being eventually affecting your physical health. Adaptability can help us to survive and make the best of any given situation. This is when adaptability is our friend. However, other times adaptability allows us to avoid our fears and thus we miss out on many life experiences.  This is when adaptability is a hindrance and prevents us from experiencing life to its fullest. For this next Life List, you are going to do something that most people avoid at all costs.  You are going to challenge your fears!   Most of our fears were developed irrationally. The fear of heights, for example, is something that we all have on some level, for others it may be the fear of water or maybe even nature itself. Now consider this. How would you feel if you faced a fear and the end result was a feeling of success, accomplishment, and freedom from that fear? How would that change your life, and in how many ways? Are you fearful of public speaking, whether large groups or small? Are you afraid to express your true feelings no matter the assumed response?  Think about this. Does your fear stem from your authentic self or from your self-created ego? The bottom line is that it is a choice to allow our fears to govern our lives.  At any time we can choose to face them and step to the other side. But is what you fear truly your real fear? Aren’t we really talking about the fear of the unknown?  Here is another way to look at it. In reality, we face the unknown on a daily basis just by being alive! So every day you are stepping to the other side of the unknown! Now, let’s take a deep breath and together take a giant step forward and face our fears. One step at a time is all you need to think about and remember that if you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything!      The desire and determination to defeat your fears! I would suggest that you try to do at least one item on the list you are about to create each week. You’ll find that this activity is somewhat similar to Physical Activity 1 in that some of your fears may involve physical movement. If this is the case it is okay! All of the activities in this last Step are linked, just as everything in this program has been. In reality, everything is always connected. Fear destroys optimal health and the sense of well-being faster than anything. But you are now in a position to face and conquer your fears once and for all! Some fears develop over a period of years. For me, it was driving over tall bridges or mountain passes. When I was younger, this was not a problem for me, in fact, I loved them! Yet, for some unknown reason I slowly began to develop this fear, and over time it became difficult to control because I would have physical reactions. My hands would become sweaty, my heartbeat would quicken along with my breath, and then came the emotions, tears and all. The sheer fear that I will… well…die. How could this have happened? And for no apparent reason? Depending on your current belief system, some (including myself) believe that it is due to a past life experience or remembrance. Others choose to believe that it is a warning from God or the work of something evil. Still, others believe it is simply a personal creation that has resulted in certain brain synapses firing and resulting in fear. However no matter your belief, it is still your choice to succumb to fear or face it head-on. I chose the latter. After all, it is my life and I want to freely enjoy every aspect of it. One bridge in particular that caused distress was the Delaware Memorial Bridge which separates Delaware and New Jersey on the east coast. I don’t know if it was the tall beams rising up to the sky, the height of the bridge itself, or some combination, but I just knew I dreaded this bridge and all bridges that had a similar appearance. Now I often traveled between Virginia and Vermont and in order to make the best time, I needed to drive over this bridge. Of course, I tried to avoid it when I could and I would temporarily feel relieved. Though I began to feel a slight sense of envy toward those who could drive over it with no problem! Similar to how I felt when I was sick and I watched other people walking around the lake in MN. Recall Step 4 Emotional Activity 1 if you will. So, how could I really allow my fear of this bridge to control me after all I had been through? Remember Step 6 Physical Activity 2 when we discussed how nervousness could also feel like excitement if you chose to perceive in that way?  Well, think of fear as a whole lot of excitement!   That’s exactly what I decided to do about my fear of bridges, and especially that bridge! With this in mind, I decided that I was indeed going to drive over it and I began pumping myself up to do so.  I anticipated how happy and satisfied I would feel once I got to the other side! Sure, I did a lot of supportive talking to myself and allowed only the positive inner chatter to shine through. And guess what? I did it! I drove over that bridge! And now each time I drive over it, the less self-encouragement I need. In fact, I recently actually looked out at the view from the top of the bridge!

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Get Rid of Anxiety, Depression & Pain with Meditation

Unleash Your Inner Power of Healing By Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH Meditation is one of the best ways to relax, reduces anxiety and depression, relieves physical and emotional pain, improves the immune system, improves memory, and even increases compassion. Physiologically, these benefits are brought about by the changes in brainwave activity during meditation or a change in brainwave frequencies. What Are Brainwave Frequencies? There are five brain wave frequencies:  Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma   However, the question is, how does mediation change these frequencies and how is that related to how you feel? Though once only anecdotal, the positive effects of meditation have long been known by yoga practitioners, pray circles, and new age thought enthusiasts.  But did you know that these claims have now been backed up by science and modern technology?  MRI scans verify that changes in brain chemistry occur as a result of meditation (1, 2).  For example, anxiety and panic attacks have been linked with high beta waves, while alpha waves are associated with a more calm and relaxed state. They also found that constant thinking and analyzing leads to an increase in beta waves, while creativity, imagination, play and meditation decrease beta waves. Further, too little gamma waves can also cause anxiety, ADHD, and depression, and once again by practicing meditation, you can increase gamma waves. Meditation Reduces Pain The act of meditating has even been proven to reduce pain simply by focusing on removing the discomfort from the body. What is interesting is that your brain cannot distinguish between actual physical pain and the pain produced by thought alone – anxiety and/or depression. MRIs have been used to visually confirm the reduction in pain that occurs after the use of pharmaceuticals.  Changes of color can be seen in the “pain areas” of the brain before and after the pharmaceuticals have taken effect, which of course was not all that surprising. But as researchers were studying the correlation between pain and brain activity, they were led to another unexpected discovery. The placebo effect also showed remarkable changes in brain activity that resulted in pain reduction.  Is it possible that we have the power to control pain simply by our thoughts and beliefs? And could an individual without years of training use tools such as meditation as a means of pain relief? Another very interesting study set out to find answers to these questions. A chronic pain sufferer was put into an MRI to track the changes in brain activity during a specific meditative exercise. The patient was instructed to relate the pain to a burning flame and to solely focus on lowering the intensity of the flame. The premise was to see if the patient’s pain levels dropped as he focused on reducing the imaginary flame in his mind. Amazingly, as the patient reported the reduction of the flame via mental concentration, the MRI concurrently showed a decrease of activity in the area of the brain that directly relates to pain. Improve Your Health Through Deep Breathing & Meditation There is something directly related to meditation that we take for granted every day – breathing. Deep breathing, in and of itself, is a form of meditation. In fact, we all subconsciously use deep breathing whenever we feel stress, anticipation, or the need to calm ourselves when we are experiencing anger. Deep breathing for a few minutes every day can have amazing effects on your health.  For example, deep breathing: Strengthens your immune system Massages your internal organs Brings clarity to the mind Increases energy levels as you take in more oxygen Relieves tension Improves posture Calms emotions Relieves pain Though meditation may be practiced in any position, yogis incorporate the use of strength and flexibility by practicing poses in conjunction with controlled breathing. Increased flexibility results in the following health benefits: Reduces joint pain by reducing muscle tension on the joints Decreases the risk of muscle injury and promotes more agility in movement Improves posture Increases self-confidence by allowing one to participate in more activities without pain Improves the lymphatic system The benefits of meditation are numerous and there is now mounting evidence to support its place in a healthy lifestyle.  We are all busy with our day-to-day routines that revolve around family, friends and professional obligations, and I understand that the thought of carving out time to meditate may seem daunting, however, who can’t spare just five to ten minutes a day?  Because even just a short meditative period will result in a more relaxed, focused and compassionate you. Consider this, for just a few short minutes a day imagine how being the best possible you not only makes you feel better but also benefits those around you…especially the ones you love. What a win WIN!

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Change How You Perceive Yourself And Love Who You Are!

It’s Time To Love Who You Really Are Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH We are our own worst critics, and this generally stems from distorted and negative self-perceptions. In hopes of protecting ourselves from “ridicule” and the “judgments” of others, we try to cover-up what we believe to be our personal flaws. We also attempt to conceal our so-called imperfections so that we do not subject ourselves to them every time we encounter our reflection. Over time, it’s easy to see how you could dislike the “you” that has developed over the years –  the person you allowed yourself to become.  So what do I mean by that? Often times, the way in which you feel about yourself is the result of what other people have told you. Whether intentional or not, their words may have left scars that have yet to heal, and this can affect your inner sense of well-being on many levels. Perhaps there was a bully that told you that you had big ears, and whether or not true, you held on to that belief and for decades made it your own. As a result, you may have chosen not to wear earrings or avoided a certain hairstyle you liked. Maybe you even wore hats so often that your closest friends wouldn’t recognize you if they saw you without one. Perhaps you were told that you have a ridiculous laugh. So over time, you began to laugh less and less, denying yourself the freedom and the pleasure of pure honest laughter. Perhaps you were told as a child, or even as an adult, that you are fat and ugly, and so today you shy away from social activities, and at times people in general. It is extremely difficult to process words that are directed toward your character and physical attributes. It’s hard enough when it comes from strangers, but when these words come from those who you hold in the highest esteem and/or from those who proclaim love for you, these harsh words and judgments often result in a change of character and/or behavior because you allowed yourself to believe them. After all, someone who cares for you certainly wouldn’t lie to you, right? Then as times goes by, you find yourself holding others accountable for your many insecurities: You blame the bully for your low self-esteem You blame the stranger who said you had a ridiculous laugh You blame your parents for your weight issues And though the opinions of others can indeed be hurtful, it is critical that you remember that they are simply just that – their opinions based on their perceptions. More importantly, are these individuals truly responsible for your self-doubts? Remember, you always have the choice to accept or deny whatever is thrown at you, even words. The longer you hold onto the sentiments of others, the more difficult it is to experience the freedom required for optimal health. Now it is time to let go of the judgments directed at you and change your perception of yourself to ensure lasting positive changes as you move forward in life. With that said, let’s begin an activity that can help you not only love yourself again but also love your appearance! Love Who You Are Activity Along with a notebook or your journal, find a quiet and safe place where you feel secure and relaxed. Prepare to spend a few hours minimum. It’s important that you not rush these activities. Give yourself the time you really need to work through them. And lastly, have an open mind! Ready? Part 1 Begin by writing down ten physical characteristics of yourself that you believe to be undesirable – that you personally dislike or find embarrassing. Start with what you consider to be the most significant and end with the least significant. For clarity, rate how you really feel about each characteristic on a scale of 1 – 5. (5 being the most displeasing.) For example: I feel my laugh is annoying and too loud. I rate my laugh as a 5. Part 2 After you have noted ten physical characteristics you find dissatisfying about yourself, try to remember who (even if it was you) first made you aware of each attribute and under what circumstances. For example: I remember clearly that it was that day in fourth grade when the class bully made fun of my laugh because he said, “I sounded like a donkey”. Part 3 Now it’s time to get to the bottom of how and why you feel the way you do so that you can finally let it go! After you have established who brought these characteristics to your attention and under what circumstances, write down two emotions associated with each, and why you believe you have attached the particular emotions to the characteristics. For example: I feel embarrassed by my laugh because it stands out and people look at me. I feel shame because only an ugly person could have such an ugly laugh.  Part 4 Observe the physical characteristics that you have perceived as undesirable and come up with two positive attributes about them followed by positive emotions(s). Look at each of them individually and focus on the beauty and only the beauty. No matter what you initially feel, allow yourself to perceive the beauty. For example: My laugh is unique to me as my fingerprint, and when I think of it that way I feel empowered and special. All laughter, including mine, is beautiful and if there is one thing we need more of in this world is laughter! And that makes me feel hope! Part 5 Lastly, go back and once again rate how you really feel about each characteristic on a scale of 1 – 5. (Remember a 5 is most displeasing.) I have no doubt that your rating will much better! Isn’t funny how over time, we sure do have a knack for overinflating so-called negative attributes about ourselves? But the good news is how relatively easy it is to turn it

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Learn How Your Emotions Are Your Personal Navigation System

How Do You Feel – Right Now? Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH How many times has this happened to you? One moment you are feeling really good, on top of the world even, then in a matter of seconds, and “seemingly” for no apparent reason, your mood takes a dramatic downturn. And you weren’t in the company of others, nope, you were all by yourself. What is that all about? Now when this occurs in public and if you are a man, it is often shrugged off and assumed that you are simply in a bad mood. Some may go as far as thinking, “That guy’s a jerk!” However, if you are a woman, then it absolutely must be either premenstrual syndrome, post-menstrual syndrome, perimenopause or menopause. One way or another, there is no way around it… it must be your hormones! But is there more to the story? Well, of course, there is! Emotions aren’t just meaningless and fleeting “feelings” that should be tamed or ignored; emotions are your built-in personal navigation system that can lead you toward many different life paths, good and bad. The key is learning to follow how you feel. However sadly, most of us don’t attempt to understand what our emotions, thus feelings, are telling us, so they simply remain misunderstood, ignored and/or suppressed. And this can ultimately be devastating to not only your state of well-being but also your physical health. Over time, if you don’t try to understand your emotions and the meaning behind them, you can end up feeling: Angry and frustrated, which can lead to depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Worried and fearful, which can lead to anxiety and pain syndromes. Critical and Cynical (to not just others but also about yourself), which can lead to heart issues and/or autoimmune. Whereas the opposite is also true, feeling: Happy and joyous leads to a strong immune system and feeling full of energy. Calm and peaceful leads to restful slumber and tolerance of others AND of yourself. Open-minded and grounded leads to hope and prosperity on all levels. Your emotions live in the place somewhere in-between your conscious and subconscious mind, a virtual intersection with a traffic light that permits you to go forward if the feeling is positive, or directs you to pause and reevaluate if the feeling is negative. Consider those negative emotions are the red lights encouraging you to stop and redirect your inner narrative to one of a different perspective. A good example of this is when you say yes to someone when you really wanted to say no, but you felt that by saying yes meant you’d be better liked, accepted, or simply because “society” says it is the right thing to do. And let’s not forget that if you said, “no”…some other unwelcomed feeling will likely pop its ugly head into the mix – Guilt. But why would you feel guilty if you chose to follow your own inner guidance system, your emotions, and thus allowed yourself to say no to others and instead said, “YES” to yourself? Further, the definition of guilt is when you purposely do something wrong, so are you doing something wrong by following what your heart is telling you? When you feel guilt chronically, what physical manifestations do you think that could lead to? Overwhelming, guilt brings about depression, loss of self-worth, self-acceptance, and self-love, and eventually… more serious conditions such as autoimmune, cancer, and heart disease could manifest. Well, I whole-heartily believe this concept of the connection between emotions and health to be true. When I look back at my suppressed emotions over time and my unwillingness to change my perception of them, they eventually did manifest as paralyzing anxiety and ultimately the autoimmune condition of multiple sclerosis. My inner guidance system was flashing red lights all over the place! My emotions – my feelings – were definitely trying to tell me something that ignored until I could not ignore them any longer. If I was to regain my health, then I needed to change the perception of my life in its entirety! It was my emotions that were lovingly laying out my path to ultimately achieve not only physical wellness but more importantly a reemergence with my authentic self. And why is so important to align with your authentic self? Because the current “you” who has developed over time is shadowed by all the false personas you show to the world as a reality, when in fact it is just an illusion because it is not real.  This is the “you” who goes along with others so you “fit in”. This is the “you” who is afraid to say how you really feel for fear of being ridiculed. This is the “you” who would rather deny the truth of your own self so others will feel more comfortable. And of course, the list goes on and on. On the other hand, the authentic you is the real you who you lost touch with and is buried under all those false personas. This is “the you” screaming to live, grow, learn, play…to expand in every way! One way or another, your authentic self will get your attention. For some, it takes an injury or an illness (like with me), for others it comes with a dramatic event, and for others still, it may occur in the last moments of life. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that your authentic self is some kind of drama queen that can only make an entrance into your life with all the bells and whistles because this could happen to you at any time, at any moment, and to everyone. You don’t need some kind of major event to occur. All you need is the desire to live true to yourself and above all, take full responsibility for your life!  Once I made that shift in perception, my life was never the same (Thank Goodness!). And there was something else that was amazing, I started to notice how when I changed my perception of life by following my

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Change Negative Patterns Of Chronic Stress – Fast!

Take a Vacation from Yourself! Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH Out of all the emotional work I did to recover my health, this one (by far) was the most powerful. I couldn’t believe how much emotional weight I had been carrying for years. I am not talking about emotional traumas here, but rather self-induced personas that I created to be more liked by people, taken seriously, “fit in,” and most of all – to be loved. However, the problem was none of these “personas” were aligned with who I really am. In fact, there were so many that I had no idea who the real Michelle was… and it left me feeling paralyzed and numb. Over time it created negative patterns of thinking such as: I knew that I had to do something to change things around and FAST! Otherwise, all the work I had been doing nutritionally and physically to regain my health would only be a tempory fix and not the cure. I needed to change these negative patterns of thinking into ones that are positive and more productive toward my goal – optimal health on all levels. So, I needed to find my authentic self and start living from that perspective and not the one I created by what I thought society deems who I am or who I should be. I’ve written quite a bit about living authentically and why it is vital for optimal health and a better sense of well-being in articles such as ‘Rediscover Your Authentic Self To Feel Alive!’ and ‘How To Reach Your Health Goals’ – Authentically! And in those articles and plenty others, I’ve found that a major obstacle in not living authentically is all the personas that we believe we need to create in order to be accepted in life. The problem is, when we do this we become so out of line with who we really are that we do not accept ourselves. Personally, I had no idea how many personas I actually created, and how different each one was from the next. It is important to note that this is not the same thing as multiple personalities, in fact, what I am talking about is extremely common. We all have different personas specific to the different areas of our lives and the people within them. I think you’d agree that we act very differently in different situations (At work, with friends, family, meeting strangers at a party, with your children, etc.) Now don’t get me wrong, most of this is completely innocent and normal. Naturally, you would act differently with a child than you would with your boss at work. However, if we allow ourselves to lose our authenticity for the sake of what we believe others will think about us, then this is where problems begin to occur. Whether your boss or your child, despite the change in your manner of communication, the key is to remain true to you. For example. When you meet somebody for the first time, of course, you want to present your best “face”, the best version of yourself, even if you feel that your life situation is not optimal or even close to satisfying. But as relationships develop and people get to know you a little better, it becomes difficult to hide deep emotions that may be brewing inside. You will likely find that how you feel about your life and how you present yourself are at different ends of the spectrum. Living in a scenario such as this day after day, week after week, not only compromises your psyche but also your physical health. If you compound this with maintaining different personas for the various people you deal with on a daily basis then you are in a constant divergence from your core—from the authentic you! And in many cases, over time we are left feeling as though we do not know who we are anymore, forgetting our real passions and more importantly…what feeds our soul. And over time, this is when adverse health conditions can or will likely develop. Perhaps when you did the “Persona Hat Activity” found in the article ‘Have You Ever Asked Yourself, “How Did I Get To Where I am In Life?”‘ you likely found that one or many of your personas did not coincide with the authentic you. And perhaps you were surprised! By realizing that you have not been true to yourself, it is easy to see how you may not have been the best possible friend, family member, partner, parent, or any other label given to a particular persona. It is additionally important to realize that when you are authentic, you will attract others who are also authentic. It is extremely liberating to know that you can have authentic conversation with others about what expectations they may or may not have with regard to a potential relationship with you. And honestly, isn’t it a relief to realize that all you need to be is authentic with yourself? Isn’t it a load off your shoulders to realize that you do not need to try to figure out what someone else expects of you? Of course, I am not in any way suggesting that by being authentic you can be rude, demanding, or anything else that would be intrusive to the well-being of somebody else. Instead, being authentic makes us capable of expanding to a higher frequency of living, tolerance, and love. The following activity, with help you define your authentic self by using something you may have forgotten how to use – your imagination! Sometimes we all just need a little break from reality. So, what this activity can do is help reduce your stress levels and, more importantly, it is a wonderful tool that can help you organize your priorities. I remember a time when I was asked, “What in life brings you pleasure? What are you passionate about?” Wow, you know, I was surprised that I really couldn’t answer those questions. And even more

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