Melissa Heisler, Stress Reduction Expert

Finding the Cause

Seems like there is a new trend I am experiencing.  Being a guest on radio shows gives me a chance to talk about my latest personal lessons and the subsequent gifts I can share with others. Earlier this month I wrote about how recovering from burnout is an inside job after appearing on the On Purpose Radio Show.  Last week I was a guest on Savvy You and had the opportunity to outline the warning signs I experience when things are not quite right in my life. During the show I clearly articulated the sequence I personally experience when something is not right.  Once we are aware of the warning signs of being off our path, it is time to investigate what is truly wrong and how to make it right.

So often in life we look at the symptoms of our pain instead of the cause.  It makes sense that we look at the symptoms because that is where we feel our pain.  However the symptoms are just there to grab out attention.  Once we are aware from our symptoms, aware that something is not right, it is then time to uncover the true cause of the pain.  I was talking to a client the other day who had an issue with a co-worker.  The discussion started in the world of emotions, what he felt and what he was experiencing.  This client expected the co-worker to remove the emotion he was feeling; he thought it was her responsibility.  Yet as we talked, we found the true source of the pain.  The client truly liked his co-worker and was concerned that the co-worker was not aware of how her actions were being received by others.  When we removed the emotions, we were able to uncover the actionable steps to help the co-worker improve her communication skills.

Here are a few steps I take to find the cause of pain so actionable steps can be taken to bring us back to our right space.

Stop:  As in much of my advice, the first step is to stop in order to gain distance and objectivity.  When we are in the midst of the pain, confusion, and emotions, we can not act clearly.  Step aside.  Walk away.  Turn off.  Tune in.  Give yourself some physical, emotional, and psychological distance from the perceived source of your pain.  This does not need to be a lot of time, but one does need to be completely removed from the situation.  It is necessary to step far enough away that you no longer are exposed to or responsive to that source of pain.

Take the Emotion Out:  To help you have clear objectivity on the issue, it is necessary to first clear out all the emotion.  Emotion can be a symptom that alerts us to unrest, but it is not the cause and it tends to cloud up our thinking.  Emotion needs to be removed in order to see the truth of the situation.  Journal, punch a pillow, cry, go for a run, or whatever you need to release your emotions.

Remove the Us-Versus-Them Mentality:  When we are in our pain, we tend to make it us-versus-them.  We make the other the source of our pain when in fact they may actually be an innocent bystander.  Remove any blame toward the other.  They are not causing your pain.  Our pain is caused by our beliefs, actions, or reactions.  When we release any blame toward the other, we are empowered. 

What Can You Affect:  Focus only on what you can truly affect.  We can not change things in the past, others beliefs, or some circumstances.  Look within your own realm regarding what you can affect.  Dig down to the actionable issues.  Don’t focus on fixing emotions or other symptoms of your being off-track.  Focus on changing your actions, reactions, and beliefs.  What are the true facts of the situation that you can affect?

What Can the Other Affect:  Also look clearly at what the other person can do.  They can not and are not responsible for taking away your emotional pain.  Like you, they can only affect their beliefs, actions, and reactions.  Be aware of making the other responsible for other things outside of their reach. 

Take Action:  Look at your needs, the needs of others, the requirements of a circumstance, and the truth of situation.  What are the tangible actionable steps you can take?

Have you recently become aware of being off-course?  What clarity did you gain by stepping away?  What tangible steps did you take to get back on track?

Savvy You radio interview


Melissa Heisler

Surrender versus Outcome

In May I posted about The Power of Surrender.  At the time I was learning how surrendering means focusing one’s energy on their mission and passion instead of on tasks and to-do’s.  Surrender is also focusing on one’s heartfelt desires but not being caught up in what it will look like to manifest them.  Surrender is living in the bliss of one’s true purpose without regard to what the end result will be.  And at the time it was fun and easy because there were frequent tangible results helping me continue to surrender and have faith.  As usual, things change.

Melissa HeislerWhat is interesting is that things are still progressing and “wins” are coming out of seemingly nowhere, but it has become harder to recognize and celebrate the positive movement.  You see, I began to create my own expectations for outcome. I began to be specific in what I wanted to see and I created timelines and dates on when I wanted to see them.  As a result of my focus on what I wanted to see, my mood diminished.  Negativity, disappointment, and stress entered my life.  I had stepped out of the joy of doing in surrender and had moved instead into the discomfort of trying to make things go my way and expecting they would.  And worse yet, changing the way I worked to “force” them to go my way.

I can not express strongly enough how this brought me pain.  It changed my mood.  It changed the way I related to others.  It changed how I experienced each day.  It changed my desire and enjoyment in projects.  Overall, it was horrible.  I was not in joy.

At first I thought it was because things changed around me.  I could state a case for this, that or the other being the reason I was dissatisfied.  But hopefully you know by now our experience is the result of our thoughts not things.  Next I attacked the idea of surrender.  If I hadn’t surrendered I wouldn’t be in this situation and then I thought maybe I was wrong about this whole surrender thing.  Further and further I went down the rabbit hole of negative thought, expectation, disappointment, and judgment.

I was pulled from the abyss by talking to a friend.  The friend saw that I was doing what I was doing for others, not myself.  This was true, and has been my modus operandi for my entire life, but this time I realized something more.  It was not because I was acting for others that I received pain.  I would have had this same pain had I acted for myself.  No, the pain came from the meaning I put on my expectations.

Expectations or a specific desired outcome is not harmful in itself.  The harm comes from labeling the expectation.  If I don’t get X then, I am not smart, I am not successful, I am letting others down, I’ll never get to where I want to be, life isn’t fair, etc.  Pain is not from receiving a desired outcome or not, but it is from what we deem the result to mean.  This goes back to experience being the result of our thoughts.  I had added meaning to events and the meaning is what pulled me down.  True surrender is viewing life as it is without adding in our interpretation.  Surrender is living without judgment.

Take a look at your own life.  Identify where you are currently experiencing pain.  Now look not at the situation but look at the meaning you place on the situation.  See if you can change the meaning and therefore change your experience.