In what areas of your life do you have standards? Even if you aren’t aware, you have them in all areas: finances, health, relationships, work, etc. Sometimes, we are aware of our standards and other times, not.
How do you know when you have dropped one of your standards? One clue is that you get upset with yourself. You may think “I should have known better, or I knew I shouldn’t have done that”. Let’s say you are at school and you enjoy math. Your standard is to get a B or higher on each test. For one test, you drop your standard, stay up late playing video games and don’t study for the test and end up with a D. What would you probably do next time? Raise your standard back up again. When you drop your standards, notice and be aware of it, learn from it and raise them back up again.
Observe, what areas in your life have the highest standards? Are you always on top of your finances? Do you exercise regularly, eat well and take preventative measure for your health? Is it your kids and family that you invest your time in most? The areas where you have the highest standards are also areas that you deem priorities in your life.
The quality of your life is determined by the stands you set for yourself. What are you willing or not willing to accept or tolerate?
You also teach other people how to treat you by what you allow, don’t stop from happening and what you stand for. What are your standards for how others treat you? Do you speak up when something nice is not said or do you let it go?
What are your own standards for treating yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Do you make time to take care or are you the last on your list?
Examine the standards in your life and if you don’t like the levels, raise them!
What is neuro-optimization?
Neuro- means having to do with the nervous system
Optimization- make better or more efficient, improve upon
Neuro-optimization is a process by which the body creates a better or more efficient nervous system. Your nervous system is like a computer and the master controller of your body. It sends and receives information to every cell, organ and tissue in your body.
Why would we need to improve upon our nervous system? The body is constantly seeking to adapt to change. When we cut our hand, our body locates the injury and starts to heal. When we get a cold or cough, the body also moves towards healing. So, how is it that sometimes, it seems like it takes our body forever to heal from something? Perhaps we’ve had low back pain for what seems likes years or a chronic illness that simply won’t go away? Long term conditions that seem to never go away mean that the nervous system is prevented from getting the correct signals to the necessary areas in order for healing to occur...there is a disturbance within the force.
What are some factors that decrease the ability of our nervous system to function optimally?
How is neuro-optimization achieved?
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It is important to realise that based on each individual’s life experiences, passions, likes and dislikes, family upbringing and culture, we have each developed different priorities in our life. Some priorities we are aware of and some we are not.
For instance, while I may find "having fun" a priority, someone else may find, "getting things done" a priority. In relationships with others, it is important to be aware of each other priorities and what they see as a sacrifice.
Couples often argue about money. One may say, we should spend our money because we need to enjoy it and you only live once! You could get hit by a car the next day or get ill and you can’t wait until retirement to enjoy your money. While the other partner may say, we need to have savings first before we travel. We need money for retirement. If we make sacrifices when we are young, we’ll have more for later. These two opposing views could lead to many arguments at home.
So, how do we resolve different priorities from others?
First, it is to be aware that everyone comes to their thoughts and options based on their culture, upbringing, and life experiences. Therefore, sacrifices need to be based on the individual. What may be easy for you, isn't what’s easy for someone else. It may be easy for you to give up your leisure time to drive your kids to all of their activities. It might not be that easy for someone else.
When you have a disagreement in relationship to someone else, ask them or try to find out what is a priority for them and find a compromise that will work for the both of you.
For me, I place my exercise as a priority. So much so that I wake up at 5am to get to the gym 4-5x/wk for 6am. I understand that not everyone does this. They may have a different routine or work out late at night or work early that does not allow for this. While it’s a small sacrifice for me, it’s hard for others and I am aware of this. So, when I recommend exercise to my patients, I need to figure out their priorities before making recommendations for better follow through.
Next time you’re in an argument with someone else, ask yourself do we simply have different priorities? Or Am I weighing my sacrifices against theirs, which is not fair as they do not have my same life experiences.
When an event happens to us, we tend to label it good or bad. I.e. a relationship ended, a new job, financial trouble, health issue, etc. Based on how we label something, we will experience emotions and take actions accordingly.
Different emotions will lead to correspondingly different actions. Different actions will lead to a different life. The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of your thinking and your actions.
If we were to label a relationship breakup bad, then we might take actions to prevent us from getting into the same situation again or might take it out on the next person we meet.
Instead of labelling something good or bad, we can ask: how can I evolve from this? This isn’t a “always think positive” kind of question. We still want to acknowledge if something didn’t go as we planned. I.e. getting sick, laid off, etc. However, we also want to examine what else we can learn and grow from our experience.
I had a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her life before breast cancer was as a lawyer who worked 80 hours a week, rarely saw her family and was always busy doing something. Due to her diagnosis, she ended up slowing down, changing the field of her law practice into something she was passionate about and spending more time with her family and friends that were important to her.
On the other side of her diagnosis, she often said that her breast cancer was a turning point in her life. She evolved and learned from her experience and in the end, evolved through the life challenge. She says she’s never had a better outlook on her life than now and she no longer does things out of obligation but because she wants to. That is a life well lived!
Ask yourself: how can I evolve from this situation?
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Is it more important to be consistent over time or to do things with great intensity? Similar to the old fable of the tortoise and the hare, consistency wins out over the long term.
Let’s take working out for example. If you go consistently 3x/wk for a year you could develop more skills and take your time learning proper exercises versus if you went to the gym 1/month and worked out 5 hours each time you went. The body, as with life, enjoys routine and being consistent.
If you were to transfer consistency to business or work, showing up every day over long periods of time, would get you further than showing up once in awhile and working like crazy. It is often seen in the newer stages of a business that founders will work crazy hours at first until it’s not sustainable anymore and either crash, give up or close their business.
It’s not to say that at times, we won't need bursts of intensity where we may have more activities that need our attention. It’s simply not sustainable over a long period of time.
Sustainability is key! Even in change, when you want to change a habit or routine or another pathway from your nervous system to your body, you can’t simply do things once or twice. You been to be consistent and do things multiple times until they become a part of your physiology and then the habit becomes a sustainable habit. Think learning to ride a bike.
If you find yourself going crazy with your to-do lists and doing a million things at a time, ask yourself, is this sustainable? Then re-think your priorities and think long term.
"Everyone gives what he has. The warrior gives strength, the merchant gives merchandise, the teacher teachings, the farmer rice, the fisher fish."
"Yes indeed. And what is it now what you've got to give? What is it that you've learned, what are you able to do?"
"I can think. I can wait. I can fast."
"I believe, that's everything!"
"And what's the use of that? For example, the fasting-- what is it good for?"
“"It is very good, sir. When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the smartest thing he could do. When, for example, Siddhartha hadn't learned to fast, he would have to accept any kind of service before this day is up, whether it may be with you or wherever, because hunger would
force him to do so. But like this, Siddhartha can wait calmly, he knows no impatience, he knows no emergency, for a long time he can allow hunger to besiege him and can laugh about it. This, sir, is what fasting is good for."
So, what is it that you have to give? What abilities do you possess that others can learn from?
One of my qualities is that I am dedicated. I wake up 5x a week and go to the gym. I’ve been doing this for years and years. This dedication has allowed me to keep my body fit and strong.
I am dedicated to my meditation for which I’ve been practicing for years. This has allowed me to have moments of peace in my mind.
I am dedicated to learning and to my practice. This has allowed me to continuously learn and also give my best to my patients.
Write a list of 5 of your best qualities and see what you have learned through them. If you have trouble, you can ask me for some or people who know you well.
This blog was written a few months ago and I've come to appreciate it even more....
I have been in quite some pain for the past 2 days. I had been fighting a cough and 2 nights ago, I was lying in bed and I coughed and felt a pop in one of my ribs and then intense stabbing pain. My first instinct was to scream and wake up my husband to take me to the hospital. For those that know me, I don't take going to the hospital lightly. It was 3am. I then gave myself a few minutes of lying there to assess the damage before I decided to do anything else. Talk about life deciding to stop me in my tracks.
Once the initial pain started to subside, and now that I was awake, I got to thinking how this could happen. I am 8 months pregnant which means my body is releasing lots of relaxin to get my body ready for childbirth. This causes loose muscle and ligaments, making you more susceptible to injury. That was on the scientific level. On the emotional and mental side, I knew it was my body’s way of slowing me down and getting me to take a break.
Lying down was the worst position for me so I walked around which helped, meditated propped up on pillows and even had time to journal. By then, I had already decided to clear my day and focus on rest and healing.
The next day, I was able to call a friend and doctor to further assess my ribs for a home visit. I am so grateful that they were able to come. I felt better after her visit but was still in intense pain each time I coughed.
I managed to get a nap in, not cook or do the other million things I would normally do but just rest. I talked to friends on the phone and enjoyed a visit from my friend and rested the entire day.
When I went into work the next day, I was able to get taped up by the physiotherapist and use other modalities available for healing at the office. Once again, so much gratitude to have the tools I need to speed up the recovery process.
Even in the midst of pain, there are opportunities for gratitude.
You are unique. There is no one in the world who has had the same set of circumstances as you. Even twins don’t have the same life experiences as each other. If we are all unique, why do we spend so much time trying to fit in?
Fitting in is engrained into our DNA. If we go back to hunter gatherer times, in order to hunt for food and survive, we would have to work in groups. Alone, you would not be able to chase down and kill your food, nor look after your family, cook, gather nuts and seeds, etc.
If you were someone who got kicked out of your group, you would not make it alone on your own. Since those hunter gatherer times, we’ve been learning these lessons of trying to please others who are in charge and to do what others day in order to survive.
The challenge is that we’ve given up our individual uniqueness in order to survive and fit in. So how do we reconcile our uniqueness and at the same time, being able to contribute and be a part of a community?
The answer lies in your goals. Are you looking for surviving or to thrive in life? Actions that are required for instances of survival are different than in thriving.
Let’s take medicine for example. Let’s say you needed life saving open heart surgery, the surgeons would not hesitate to crack open your chest and ribs in order to save you. The actions would be more extreme than usual. This would be to save your life.
In survival, fear in involved. Fear of losing something or not having something. This would cause you to do different actions vs in thriving mode. In thriving, we are searching for more. To be more, do more, to explore more about ourselves.
Once you have your basic elements for survival, i.e. food, a place to live, etc. You can start to explore of your uniqueness and what it takes to thrive.
There is room for both survival and growth. We need to adapt to what is needed for the time.
There are many books in the personal development space that talk about the habits of successful people i.e. the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. They follow and find out the habits that make successful people who they are and it is said that if we do those same habits, we would get the same results in our lives. While there is some truth to this, there is a key element missing…..
We don’t want simply the habits that successful people have, we want to know and emulate the THINKING behind the actions that they take.
If a successful habit is to wake up early in the morning, why is it that they think that? What is the thought process behind that? We want to then examine what their thought patterns are versus our own and find out the gap.
If you think like a successful person, then you will create your own habits that suit you to lead you to the results that you want. For instance, if a successful person was productive waking up early so they would meditate, workout etc. when it was quiet. You still also apply that success principle if you are a night person and stay up late to do those things. We want to know the why behind the doing.
A good question to ask yourself is: How does this successful person think vs how do I think? What is the thought behind their action? What is the thought behind mine?
Analyzing your own thought patterns will allow your to discover which actions you take that are congruent with who you are. People can only see your actions, they cannot see your thinking.
If you’re at the grocery store and trying to portray a picture of health, what would your grocery cart look like? Make sure that you are congruent in your thoughts and behaviours.
Change your thoughts and you change your life!
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As usual, life is teaching me lots of lessons. These past few weeks, one of my lessons has been to learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It has often been said that growth occurs outside of our comfort zone. So, if you want to grow, you have a couple options....
1. You can take an active approach, figure out your fears, and start tackling them one by one. This is the brave and courageous approach.
2. You can wait for life to throw circumstances in your way where you are forced to grow (most of us). This is what happened to me.
3. Resist the growth and fight tooth and nail against it whenever you are called to make a change. This method is popular as well.
As I’m nearing my due date for the baby, life is getting more and more uncomfortable. It’s harder to walk long distances, go upstairs and do the things that I usually do. This has been a blessing and a curse for me. I’m used to running around and moving quickly through the day. I’ve been forced to slow down and in doing so, enjoy the process of taking my time to get places.
It’s been hard to sleep at night because there are just no more comfortable positions. This has taught me the gift of time relativity. The paradox being that at night, when you’re awake, the hours seem to pass by so very slowly. If you do fall asleep at your regular time, 5am comes too quickly. It's funny because both "times" are the same but what you are doing with the time differs and that gives the illusion of time being different. This has taught me to appreciate the illusion of time.
The more I get comfortable with things that are uncomfortable the more I’m learning about myself and about life.
This week, do something outside your comfort zone and tell us below what you discover about yourself.
Dr. Amanda is a non-traditional chiropractor who focuses on Neuro-Optimization in Ottawa, Canada.