Joy sets goals for continuous achievement, and loves connecting with others by helping them reach their own ideals and aspirations.
Deciding Fear Categories Wisely
What are the most immediate fears stopping you from delighting in life? What keeps you up at night? What would you change about yourself emotionally, if you had the power to choose and have it done?
You're not that far from being able to do just this, dear reader.
Let your most immediate, urgent fear be your starting point for the exercises and techniques given in this article. This does not necessarily mean your strongest fear. It means the fear that is most messing up your life now, or will be the most inhibiting in the coming month.
If you are unsure which fear is the most urgent, define it using the following suggestions.
Determining Your Fear Categories
What is the next event or holiday which you wish didn't exist?
What happens when you brainstorm categories and aspects of your life which disturb you?, i.e. Valentine's Day, water, poor health, your relationship with __________.
What pops up when you use the lists from the emotions exercises in Part 8 of this series, "Facing Your Emotions"?
What makes you feel manipulated by others, or even yourself? For example, when someone says, "Please" or "Thank you," what do you really hear? (For me, "please" makes me feel obligated, and "thank you" sounds like, "You were acceptable, but now your job is finished—go away.")
Consider using topics you've already come up with as you've explored yourself through the time spent learning the techniques in previous articles in this series.
Valentine's Day—Personal Experience
The first time I did this exercise effectively, Valentine's Day was looming in front of me, about a month away. I hated and dreaded Valentine's Day. As an adult, it had proven to be an encapsulation of stress, horror, flashbacks, and sexual and emotional trauma. I wanted to wipe it off the calendar, and out of my partner's memory. Since I couldn't get rid of either the day or my partner's expectations, I set out to change my viewpoint. I sought to make the days leading up to it times of wonder and creativity. I first asked myself the questions:
- In what ways did the reality differ from my ideal?
- What was my ideal?
- And in what small ways could I provide for myself a few pleasant experiences, in spite of traditions, routines, and my partner's expectations?
- What had I always wanted to do, and never done?
For me, making and decorating sugar cookies was the answer. This in itself was a huge undertaking.
Making cookies was a thing that always sounded fun, but quickly turned into a chore or a nightmarish experience full of regrets and brokenness. Not to mention a disaster of frosting smears, sprinkles, and piles of dirty dishes.
But I had been telling myself for the last several years that I would try a wet-on-wet decorating technique for some holiday, and I realized this had better be the one. For one thing, I envisioned my own regret a year or two down the road when my daughter was too old to want to make cookies together. This might well be my one chance to make good on a longstanding ideal as a mother. So be it. I needed at least one happy memory of making cookies as a mama.
Planning the Change
I browsed Pinterest and gathered a collection of ideas calculated to inspire and delight, while keeping the project as simple and direct as possible. Since my goal was to reformat my emotions about the holiday, almost two weeks before Valentine's Day, I mixed up a never-fail rolled cookie recipe. The dough sat in the refrigerator overnight. I lay awake after getting in bed, going over which cookie cutters I would use, and how many tints of frosting I would mix. I had long ago settled on a basic pattern, based on three colors of icing done in swirls and stripes.
As it turned out, my daughter wanted to help cut out the cookies, and between us we made hearts in two styles, alongside chickens, and stars. It was a rather odd assortment, but made us happy.
That afternoon, we decorated a trayful each. I had made icing in two shades of pink--one deep and one mild--also white, and black. This was my first time using activated charcoal powder in frosting, but we loved the results. The consistency was softer than the other colors and took longer to set, but the look was everything we had hoped for.
My husband and son were present while my daughter and I frosted the cookies, and it turned out to be a lowkey, pleasant experience. The wood stove was lit, the weather was brisk, and just as the decorating challenge was finished, the sun shone in golden and lit the way for some satisfactory camera shots.
Many of the cookies were eaten before Valentine's day, but a few remained until then.
The act of eating one or two per day, and recalling the unhurried, unconfused way in which they came about, made them worth all the effort. My view of Valentine's Day as containing nothing but dread began to be revamped.
That's one happy memory behind me.
Valentine's Day Resolution Inspiration
Why the Plan Worked
Starting way ahead of time on the plans and goals paved the way for a smooth experience. Taking time to build a file of fun ideas, then winnow it down to the most needful and doable (aka stress-free), took time and repeated effort. Yet the time I invested ensured that I knew what I truly wanted, and could define the steps to getting it. It also ensured that I had a clear vision of various acceptable outcomes, not just one, and that I could happily modify my approach in case of illness, exhaustion, lack of involvement from my daughter, or unexpected events.
Careful planning of procedures and tools ensured that I didn't forget crucial items, and that my DID system had a chance to discuss the event, with each alter deciding whether they wanted to be involved, and how. I made sure I had all baking ingredients in sufficient quantities, and that they were easily accessible. I gathered and cleaned all the cookie cutters I thought I might use, several days in advance. (Some had been used in a kitchen display; others had been stored in odd places at different times as, being a collector, I sporadically acquired more.)
The last essential springboard to success involved finding goals I adored--not merely ones I'd settle for. The fun of all this planning and the lovely results meant I would be glad to recall the experience in coming years, and could use it to encourage myself to create more changes in other areas. Also, I now have a Pinterest file of foods and activities I would like to try for future Valentine's Days.
I know now that it is possible to readjust my viewpoints, providing potential happiness no matter what others choose.
Herein lies a huge truth: You can only change you. And nobody else.
I am calling this truth the MakeoverMe concept. This is how I label it in my Vision Boards.
At first, before the MakeoverMe concept, I had some Fear Category ideas tucked away in a Pinterest Board called "Fears Are Resolved". I designed Section titles which made me feel inspired to click in and review my choices and options. These satisfying titles lead automatically to thoughts of joyful changes.
- SpringEcstasies, EasterGlow
- SummerRomance, Star•Haven
- Local Jaunts
- Travel Joys
- Friends Connect
- When a Grandmother
For each of these categories, I focused on Forever Ideals. Not money or means. Not time allowances. Not current health status. I asked myself, "If limits never existed, what would each of these desires look like?" And I began digging.
Intuition vs. Habits
It is important not to use your brain too strenuously during these exercises. That is, you must try not to overthink decisions. Rather, use your intuition to feel what you want--and leave it at that. Remember that this is merely exploration. You'll have time and the ability to think later, and decide what you truly want. As you repeatedly review your choices, you'll begin to know what you want vs. what looks like something you should want. Your knowing will increase. You'll begin to notice patterns about what sorts of things evoke particular emotions and thoughts, impressions, and habits.
There are no rules as to what is right or wrong when you are reformatting a fear. The only rule is--no negative emotions. If something provokes in you panic, sorrow, uneasiness, or confusion--leave it alone. Aim for whatever makes you feel calm and cared for. Excitement and doing can come later.
Especially beware of including too many activities in your lists--especially if you are a workaholic, or have been known to use doing things to avoid confronting emotions. For those of us with this bent, it is important to learn to just Be. Try focusing more on colors, sensations, and memories than on busyness.
This can be difficult. To get you started, try asking yourself, "If I had nothing that needed doing today . . . what would I do? What about if this nothing lasted for a week?--a month?--a year?--yet I had all the resources I needed to do (or not do) anything I wanted?"
If you allow these questions to penetrate past your shell of busy thinking, your core needs and purposes will begin to rise to the top of your consciousness. They will begin to form into definite visions having structure and texture. When this happens, these are the images you need to somehow capture in your lists.
Using your intuition rather than your brain to sort out your needs will help shorten this process.
Problem Solving Meditation (741 Hz): Creative Thinking/Visualizing, from Good Vibes, Binaural Beats
Drawing Inspiration From Others' Works
When you are ready for activity as fun, not survival, there are a few ways you can go about narrowing your choices.
Learn from other's lists and lives--bucket lists, life stories, novels, music . . . Try out ideas, in your daydreams, if not literally. Make lists. Dream dreams. Save images. Let them sit a while, then come back to them and notice which items still sound (or feel) fun. Look at your lists while in varying moods and states of health or tiredness. Those things which consistently appeal should be included in your vision boards.
When you read a novel or story which excites you, take time to try to analyze why it seems special. Is it the sweetness or excitement of relationships portrayed? Is it because it is far removed from your present reality? (The grass is greener on the other side, maybe?) Is it in a different time frame or dimension which appeals to you?
Once you've defined which aspects of the story catch your fancy, tuck them away in your journal and allow them to begin incubating in your subconscious. Eventually, you will start having ideas on how you can apply these concepts to your life, and turn them into goals.
Use a similar process for music which inspires you, heals you, or makes you think. Include music which helps you explore your emotions and motives, even if at times it seems very dark, or strange.
Allow yourself to explore and re-explore often the options you've put out for yourself. Notice which ones continuously soothe your spirit, or make your heart feel alive. These are your core needs and hopes. Work with these first, if possible.
Who Do You Want to Be?
Finally, don't be afraid to switch courses. If something starts to work, but then emotionally disappears for you, or begins to make you feel yucky, discard it or set it aside. It's okay to grow and continue to change your hopes. Change means you have avoided stagnation, and are reaching for more possibilities. Analyze the changes if you wish, but continue to allow yourself to operate mostly on intuition. While overcoming fears and developing courage, it will serve you well.
Release and Transcend Fear--Eliminate Phobias and Fear, by Elke Neher
If You Still Feel Stuck
If you feel stuck, after brainstorming, and perhaps trying some of the exercises outlined in other articles in this series, consider taking a different approach to the question of fear.
Instead of asking what makes you afraid and how should you change it, ask yourself what makes you happy? More specically, what makes you feel happy, even if just for a few seconds? It might be an object, an event, a wish, or anything else.
Collect pictures which remind you of this happiness (or several), and use them as a springboard to imagine what life might be like if these things were normal for you. Allow yourself to daydream all the details.
If you practice this regularly, you will open the way to more happiness. This may come at a cost, as unhelpful emotions and mindsets must be cleared out of the way first, but the results will be worth the trouble.
Happiness Is (You Decide!)
More Examples Below
In case you are interested in further personal examples, I have selected three more areas of my life on which I am currently working. In all three, I have built much courage and am making noticeable progress. But I have not arrived. These areas are not yet made over.
I am in the preparation stage, decluttering, as it were, and have not experienced major shifting. However, small tweaks have been made to my mind, thoughts, and heart. I feel eager to arrive at a place where I can focus more deliberately on these "slow" areas, yet feel I need to finish some work in previously chosen areas first.
All in good time. All in good time.
Early Mornings, Breakfasts
Erasing Crooked Mornings
Mornings in my household are often tense, brooding, loud, or any combination of unpleasant. So I chose images which resonated with serenity, happiness, clarity, and any manner of positive energy.
An uncrooked morning includes:
- Time outdoors, perhaps a brisk walk
- Smiling and laughter
- Family togetherness
- Hope of good things to come
- A hearty meal
- Easy communication
Cold Water, Any Water
The story of my relationship with water does not belong here, but the aftermath of solving it does. I began working on this fear staunchly and deliberately about five years ago (2015). It took more than pictures and fancy imagery to get me over it, and I still occasionally struggle. But images helped, and continue to help.
Featured are images meant to remind myself what it would be like to find showering a pleasant, calm, unrushed experience.
Also, in the upper right is a photo of my well pumpjack as it is working correctly, after three years of not working at all due to mysterious problems 300 feet down. (It is an obsolete system.) This meant that, besides the original problems with water, I have had to resolve the added stress of living without easy acess to water for over three years.
Finally, at the bottom are suggestions of what it might feel like to enjoy playing in water.
In order to help myself overcome a fear of cold water (and cold itself), I set tiny challenges, focusing on the freedom of being unafraid to use any clean water available, in any setting.
This was important for two reasons. One, I needed a way of dealing with flashbacks I experienced from certain alters in my DID System, when confronted with cold water. Secondly, my family had bought an old farmstead which hadn't been improved since about 1935. This meant there was no hot water on demand, and only the most primitive of facilities. I found great advantages to being able to wash in cold water, including rain water.
The decision that finally broke the back of my fears was the resolution to wash outdoors every chance possible for a year--rain or shine, wind or heat--unless the weather was raw and below 40° F. I made it for 8 months out of the 12, including January. This is remarkable since we've been known to have snow for eight months out of the year.
Now I can deal with the water problem constructively, if not always instantly or easily.
Balanced Money Views
I heard a lot about money growing up. Most of it was negative. On top of this, my local church conditioned me to believe that appreciation of money was equivalent to worship of it, or greed. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
So as an adult, I started over on constructing my views about money, poverty, gratitude, and resources in general. It has been worth the struggle to own my views, both helpful and unhelpful, and to find ways of releasing those that are designed to keep me stuck.
I have found a playful approach is best for this, as it helps me to realize and remember that money is nothing but a tool made of energy, and is basically limitless.
Brainstorming About Riches
I can't tell you how to get rich, as I've never done it. Plenty of others can. But I can tell you ways to overcome a poverty mindset, look debt in the face and best it, and continue to improve your mindset.
One thing that helps is to brainstorm a list describing what "rich" looks like to you. Not for anyone else--just for you. It can be as extravagant and absurd as you like . . . or you can maintain a more down-to-earth approach. My list shown above is more of the latter. In fact, to some, it may be laughable. That's okay.
The main point is that you be able to visualize the items as being true. For me, that meant reaching above my norm, but not to the point of glamour.
You can always increase your reach later.
In a future article we will talk more about money and resources, so I leave you to your own list now.
What would money feel like for you if there were no fear involved?
Topics Previously Covered in This Series
In Part 1, we explore why fear inhibits our ability to know what we really want, and act on it. Our thought loops often hold the key to realizing our deepest desires. Focusing on and owning these thought loops can allow us to move forward, first making the decision that fear will no longer own us.
In Part 2, we cover the basics of how to develop a vision board, whether in an electronic or physical format. We offer prompts and resources to help you decide what you truly want out of life.
In Part 3, we discuss the role of bio rhythms in setting intentions which yield pleasant fruit. When you pair your firm and detailed expectations with careful timing, cooperation from others and the Universe often results.
In Part 4, we pinpoint how to choose the perfect visuals and images for your needs, decode your personal color associations, and use past regrets and misunderstandings to help you go forward more wisely.
In part 5, we explore the decisions to be made while setting up an Intentions-by-the-Month system, using a Pinterest Board or other format of your choice. This system allows you to form a habit of setting intentions daily, or on whatever schedule you choose.
In Part 6, we walk through how to set up a long term life plan of 5 to 10 years, using either a vision board format, a mind map, or a combination of these two systems.
In Part 7, we acknowledge that manipulation and painful circumstances can make it difficult to know who you are and what you want, then present emotional and mental exercises to help you overcome the gaslighting or conditioning of others.
In Part 8, we show how becoming aware of your emotions is crucial to moving forward in your heart and life, and offer simple exercises to help you discern what you are feeling.
In Part 9, we offer tips and guidelines for creating affirmations that work for you. Developing your own personal affirmations can be a rewarding process, yielding insights into your own thoughts and motives.
In Part 10, we explore a way to develop communication between your mind and body. We focus on how to develop this communication, and offer some ways to troubleshoot resistance in your body, emotions, and mind.
Our Conditions and Qualifications
In case you missed our intro before, we are an autistic DID System who have spent years exploring how trauma affects our ability to live our best life and act on our deepest needs. We have no official diagnosis, and no legal qualifications to offer advice or training on mental health conditions. Conversely, we have a decade of experience managing our Dissociative Identity Disorder, as well as about four years working to understand our autism.
Our Approach to Vision Boarding
Because fear is such a huge roadblock to stability and satisfaction, we have chosen to approach the topic of vision board development by exploring how it can be used to assist in healing and changing trauma patterns. We specifically use it to overcome fear and other trauma responses.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Joilene Rasmussen