Melissa Heisler

Hiding Not Seeking

Caffeine has always been my constant companion. In my younger years, caffeine came in the form of Mountain Dew. When I entered the workforce, my caffeine delivery system became coffee. As energy drinks entered the marketplace, Monster became my drink of choice. The thing is, caffeine is not good for me. I have known for a while and recently had a doctor prove it. And yet, I didn’t stop putting caffeine in my system.

Have you ever had a habit you wanted to break but didn’t have the motivation to do so? Or if you could break it, the habit would come back? The problem may not be willpower. The problem may be that you are treating the symptom not the cause.

Melissa Heisler
Melissa Heisler

When I was drinking coffee, I didn’t like the taste of every cup and I hated how it discolored my teeth. Yet I would drink cup after cup. If I had a Monster or two, I would have the shakes and couldn’t concentrate. Yet I would have more the next day. When we digest things which are not good for us, we actually experience a high. The high is created when our bodies rally the troops to fight the unwanted guest. As adrenaline attacks the invader, we experience a seemingly pleasurable high from something that is actually not good for our system.

But knowing all this did not give me the power to remove caffeine from my diet. This is because I did not drink it to get the high per se. I was using the high to hide my pain, discomfort, and negative emotions. If I was in a good mood, I didn’t need coffee. If there was troubling me, I longed for caffeine and could think of nothing else. When I was caught up in the high of caffeine, I could ignore what was bothering me. Caffeine is my Band-Aid, my mask. This addiction distracts me from those things I don’t want to face. But you know what? The things I didn’t want to face are still there after every cup.

Next time you reach for your mask of choice whether it is coffee, chocolate, potato chips, or a marathon of CSI, stop. Put down your addiction and wait. See what emotion, fear, anxiety, or worry washes over you. Then work through that discomfort. By going through the discomfort you can remove it once and for all. And in doing so, you can also release your addiction.

Living your life

Working for a Living

Recently whenever I talk to a client or friend about their job I hear:

I have lost the passion for my work.

My co-worker undermined my project.

It seems we only shuffle paper and no longer provide anything of true value.

My boss took credit for my work.

I have to work overtime again, without pay.

There is too much work to do. I am completely overwhelmed.

Once again, I had a nervous breakdown in my office.

There are many reasons we feel this way. The economy tanked out in 2008 and led to layoffs but the same amount of work to be done, so those still employed are doing the work that used to be split between many others.

A primary focus on quarterly goals has created an atmosphere of short-term thinking. The best choices for the company, customer, and worker are secondary to trying to increase the appearance of quarterly profits for Wall Street.

Individuals are afraid of losing their job, feel their pocketbook tightening, and have increased pressures. Because of this, tempers are shorter, people share less, care less. Civility and compassion at work are diminishing.

How Can You Make Your Job Better?

Living your lifeThere may be a few very slow moving changes we can make to the state of our business and the economy overall. In the meantime, what we can affect to make a less than desirable circumstance better is our own perspective, thoughts, beliefs, actions, and reactions.

Often when there are issues or conflicts, we want the other to change. We want our boss to be fair. We want our co-worker to do their share. We want the economy to improve. However, these are not things we can truly affect. We are not in control of them. We may be able to state our case to our boss, but we can not control her response. We can bring the workload situation up to our co-worker but we can’t change his level of execution.

To truly change our experience, we need to change ourselves. You may be in a negative circumstance, but you are still in control of how you experience that circumstance.

We need to become Aware of our actions and reactions. Are our actions and reactions helping or hurting us? Are we making situations even worse by how we react and feel about them? Are we allowing a poor work environment to affect our sense of self worth?

We need to learn Acceptance of the situation and others. This does not mean we rollover and take abuse. Acceptance means ending our desire for things to be different than they truly are. Much of our pain can be the pain from expecting and desiring things to be different than reality.

We need to look for Alternatives. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. What are things you can change in your own beliefs, actions, and reactions which could improve your experience of your current job?

We need to take Action. Complaining about our work but then approaching it the same way is not action. Blaming others and waiting for them to change is not action. Every day what are the small steps you can take to make your experience just a little bit better? That is action.

For more concrete ideas to make your current job better, download the 10 Ways to Survive a Less Than Ideal Job. To learn how I used Awareness, Acceptance, Alternatives, and Action to change my experience download the first chapter of From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction. Both are available gratis. Learn how you can help share Melissa’s story, reduce the amount of stress in the world, and reserve your copy of From Type-A to Type-ME.

What do you see as the answer to this problem for you? What are the small steps you can take today to make a difference in your own experience?

Burnout To Balance

Why are we more stressed? And what can we do about it?

Never in history have we had such comforts and ease of living. Our grocery store shelves are stocked and we can cook a meal in minutes. We can communicate with family and friends around the world instantaneously and face to face. Modern conveniences make our day to day life easy. Then why the heck are we so stressed? The reason is because of this technology, and our limbic brain. I have been preaching this a long time and recently spoke about it.  Now newest research by Dr. Marc Schoen, psychologist and faculty member at UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine, has proven it.

Burnout To BalanceMuch of technology is a helpful for our life, but it has also taught us impatience and a demand for perfection. We expect everything to be immediate and when it is not we become stressed. “I have to wait three minutes for my Starbucks coffee. Oh, the humanity!” We expect everything to be perfect and the exactly the way we desire it and when it is not we become stressed. “You bought full not skim milk? My life is ruined.” We are less patient with people, timetables, and the natural cyclical every changing way of life. Everything in our life becomes a stressor from traffic, to our cable being out, to our favorite snack missing from the vending machine, to slow internet. None of this is life or death, but we feel it is.

Although on the outside we are living a better, more comfortable life, our limbic brains are telling us something different. Our limbic brain is our survival brain. This is the part of us that reacts unconsciously to danger. Back in the day when a tiger appeared, if we used our logical minds to decide what to do, we would quickly become lunch. “Oh look a tiger. It has pretty stripes doesn’t it? It seems to be salivating. The tiger must see me as food. If that is the case, perhaps it is time for me to leave this place.” Chomp. The limbic brain is set to survival. It sees a tiger and activates our legs in the opposite direction before we realize consciously what is happening.

What has happened in our modern age is that our limbic brain perceives inconveniences with the same intensity as life and death situations. We become fearful and anxious in traffic, when we forget someone’s birthday, or when the boss is headed to our desk. The problem is that when our limbic system kicks in it sends all of our energy to our muscles so we can fight or flee. In doing so, it shuts down those things we use on a daily basis, like our digestive, immune, and reproductive system to conserve energy. Then because we see everything in our life as an apparent danger, we are constantly in a state of alert. Our cortisol levels are high, our daily systems are shut down, and we begin to have stress related illnesses.

This leads us to look for something outside of our self to reduce our stress. Due to the media and our current society, instead of seeking measures which truly alleviate our stress level, we unfortunately turn to maladaptive habits for relief. Dr. Schoen has uncovered maladaptive habits people use which I often see in my clients. Two maladaptive habits are choices, consciously or unconsciously, that we make. First are obsessive habits; those obsessive compulsive disorders large and small, from triple checking that the door is locked to repetitive washing. Second are addictions to food, alcohol, sex, television, shopping, and a whole host of seeming pacifiers.  The next two maladaptive habits are ones that occur in our bodies. We develop sleep disorders and insomnia. Or we have chronic illnesses, colds, flus, headaches, and stomach aches. The last of the maladaptive habits Dr. Schoen identified are avoidance habits like the fear of crowds, flying, or going over bridges.

The question is if these maladaptive habits are not helping our stress, what can we do?

De-Stressed WomanFor true stress relief, it is necessary to consciously choose new healthier long-lasting and truly effective habits. Unplugging, getting sleep, deciphering between real and imagined fears, learning patience and acceptance, and focusing on what we have not on what we don’t. Stress relief is very simple, but not easy. Over the years we have created deep pathways or grooves in our mind. We have programmed our minds to unconsciously respond with our maladaptive habits. The simple answer is to create new habits, new pathways, and new grooves. It is simple, but it does take time to create and program into our minds.

To receive help in reducing your stress, download a free chapter of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It

Machu Picchu

The Catalyst

At first I didn’t know why I felt so poorly. I thought that it might just be due to my new job filled with travel, deadlines, and an ever-changing focus. My stress-levels increased while my exercise decreased. My eating habits became poor as processed, prepackaged convenience foods and the perceived need for caffeine became the norm. Even when I tried to eat better, the weight still kept coming on and my digestive system was erratic. I began to have health issues with seemingly no source. My menstrual cycle was horrendous with heavy flowing for weeks, not days, excruciating pain piercing into my legs, a bloated protruding stomach, an agonizingly constricted back, plus a slew of digestive problems. I was tired, drained, and irritable. First I searched for relief from this pain with all the doctors in my HMO: gynecologists, urologists, gastroenterologists. They poked, prodded, and prescribed. Each had an idea of how to relieve my symptoms but again and again they could not diagnose where my pain was coming from. No doctor could find the cause of my illness. They did their best to pump me full of chemicals in the hope that a prescription would solve my severe discomfort, bloating, and irregularity, all to no avail. Finally one doctor suggested a hysterectomy might relieve my pain. I didn’t think “might” constituted enough reason for surgery and so I left all the allopathic specialists behind.

After getting nowhere with Western medicine doctors, I was now open to exploring the world of homeopathic medicine. My first stop was acupuncture. By holding my wrist and looking at my tongue, the acupuncturist diagnosed that my qi or energy flow or vital force or something was too warm. He said my yin was overpowering my yang, or was it the other way around? In any case, I received a slew of specifically made herbs and was stuck with needles a few times a week. Initially I felt some relief, but then any relief appeared to plateau. I also wanted to know why my qi was so hot. Why was I out of balance? What was the root cause?

Onward I went, this time to a nutritionist. Here my hormone levels were tested and reflected the same imbalance found by the acupuncturist. Another round of herbs, vitamins, and supplements were administered. I followed the program without fail; popping tablets before every meal, making changes to what I ate as well as how and when I ate, adding in exercise, and even hiring a personal trainer. Again I found some initial comfort, but no true relief.

Machu PicchuDuring this physical crisis I was also still receiving regular chiropractic adjustments and massages to manage the back pain from the Los Angeles car accident. The massage therapist I frequented often told me of the trips she took to Peru to work with a shaman. Face down on the table I would listen to her stories of plant medicine and energetic healings. It was pretty far out there. She was very into it and her passion made the stories very interesting to hear, but energy-work, shamans, and ancient culture weren’t my thing. However, one day in 2007, she shared a story of this shaman curing a man with cancer. It caught my attention. Since I was running out of options for my own health, I began to consider that this might be a valid course of action, or at least as valid as taking out organs and digesting chemicals. In a moment of desperation, I thought traveling over three thousand miles and working with a South American shaman might be my last hope.

The seed was planted. I was actually considering flying to Peru to be healed, but it was a hard decision to go. Could this mystic healer help me where all the others had failed? Could I go alone to a country I had never been before? Could I justify taking such an expensive trip? I used every decision tool I could think of to justify the trip, but it just did not seem to make sense. Yet the idea of going would not leave me. I remember the day I decided to go. It was not based on logical justification. My heart, soul, intuition, and desperation just called out “GO!” Thankfully my husband, being ever supportive, had no issue with me going and also hoped I would find the relief for which I was looking.

This is an excerpt from the first chapter of From Type-A to Type-ME: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living ItDownload the entire first chapter here.

Learn how you can help share Melissa’s story, reduce the amount of stress in the world, and reserve a copy of the From Type-A to Type-ME.

Melissa Heisler

Flexibility and Outcome

For the past five years, I have been earnestly working on writing my first solo book. The concept originally started with musings on my walk to my old corporate job. Then I wrote a few essays and ideas. None seemed to take shape. After leaving corporate America, I knew it was the time to make it happen. I would go away for a few days on our boat and write standing in our cabin for hours and hours each day. In an amazingly short period of time, I had a completed manuscript. And it wasn’t very good.

Melissa HeislerI thought it was great and amazing as I wrote it, but it was closer to a cathartic cleansing for myself versus a piece of substance that could help others. Writers always say it is editing not the initial writing which is difficult. I always thought I would have no problem with this because I have a fair handle on the English language. What I did not realize is this meant content editing not line editing, meaning it is about the structure, framework, and pacing of the piece not a type-o here and there.

On I went through new structures and titles – Gray Matters, Unleashing the Power of Acceptance, Balance and Choice, and on and on. Finally I found the right framework, From Type-A to Type-ME: A Framework for Stress Reduction. For what seemed like the three millionth time, I re-wrote the material. This year I have submitted it once again to publishers and am making plans for self-publishing if that is the route I need to take.  The book is finally ready to become a reality.

This entire process has been about flexibility and releasing outcome. If I would have held on to my first concept, I would never have been able to release the powerful book I have now. I released titles, frameworks, lessons, tools, and deadlines. As a recovering Type-A, it was difficult at times to release a path I was on and change direction. Interestingly the more I held on to “how things had to be” the more pain and stress I felt. Every time I recognized and accepted a need to change – even when it meant scrapping months or years of work – I felt peace and I could see how the shift made things better.

My final shift is in format. As I was nearing the completion of my 70,000 word book, I heard that less than 20% of people who buy a book actually read the whole text. As I already knew that only a small percentage of those who read a book, do the work outlined in a manuscript I realized that the number of people’s lives I could affect with my book was very small. Time for the biggest shift. Time to be flexible. Time to release what I thought was the outcome. At this time I have decided not to publish my book. Instead, I am moving the text, tools, lessons, and stories into a year-long online program. The concept for the book was to help people to incorporate the Type-ME Daily Habits I uncovered into their own lives. The power of this work is in implementation, not just awareness. Although it is difficult to release years and years of work and expected results – my book on Amazon and then hopefully into your hands – I know making the transition to a program is the right way to go. It is the way to reach and affect more people than I could ever do through the book alone.

Hopefully you agree. Check out www.BeTypeME.com for information about the program and how it can help you take back your life. Also help to make this book a reality so I can reach more people with the message about stress reduction, learn how here. Please share it with those in your life who you believe could benefit from stress reduction.

Look at your goals in life. What is moving smoothly for you? Where are you having trouble completing things? Is this perhaps not the right time, way, or means to complete your goals? Where can you be flexible? Where do you need to release your outcome? Share with us your thoughts.

snowy street

At One

There have been many times in my life, and still some today, when I fight reality.  I want a different outcome.  I desire for things to be different than they are.  I pray for divine intervention to change the facts.  What usually occurs are that the facts remain and all I have done is to create pain and disappointment for myself.  It is said that what we resist, persists. What if instead of resisting, we accepted?

Recently I was introduced to the Navajo word “Hozho.”  It is the most important word in the Navajo language.  Roughly translated it means peace, balance, beauty, and harmony.  When you are one with and part of the world around you, it is said you are “in Hozho.”  Here is how it shows up. Say there is a drought. Many of the modern religions would say to pray for rain.  Instead, the Navajo hold a ceremony to help them be at peace with the drought, to be in harmony with the drought. Said another way, Hozho helps us to accept what we can’t change, to be at peace with those things beyond our control.

snowy streetThink about how this may play out in your life. Right now in Chicago it is winter and winter this year is cold and snowy.  Snow is not my favorite thing.  It is pretty to watch at the end of the movie White Christmas, but I much prefer seeing it on television than shoveling it.  What if instead of focusing my thoughts on my desire for it to be eighty-degrees and sunny, I instead fully embraced that it is snowing?  Wishing I could walk around in shorts today only makes me sad.  It makes me feel bad about my circumstance.  It puts a damper on my day.  The thought of wanting things different affects how I experience the entire day.  If, however, I embrace the snow, my mood shifts.  I don’t have to love it.  I only need to accept it.  The truth is that it is snowing.  There is nothing I can do to change this fact.  As I can not jump on an airplane headed for warmer climates, my only other choice is to accept my circumstances.  The best I can do right now is embrace my current situation.  In embracing and accepting my situation, I feel peace and can enjoy my day exactly how it is.

How often do you fight the reality of our life? How often do you wish for something different? How often do you pray for divine intervention to change your circumstances?  And how often does your resistance to reality cause you pain?  How can being in Hozho change the experience of your day?  Share your experiences.