Overthinking Lately? Let Your Light Go For It
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Overthinking can hinder our personal wellbeing and create road blocks for making decisions or achieving goals.
Why do we overthink?
Maybe we are feeling afraid of failure, questioning a decision we made, or contemplating trying something new.
Whatever our thoughts are, we must develop strategies for mental strength to be well.
Our overthinking can discourage us from trying new things. For example, last year was the first time I tried a sumo deadlift, I put barely any weight on the bar. I kept telling myself, I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough and I hurt my back seven years ago and, and, and...the spiral continued.
As I reflected at the beginning of this year I started telling myself I’m going for it. Early this week I had my personal record for sumo deadlift, 200 pounds!
Yes, I went for it! I told myself the worst that could happen is I don’t lift the weight and I’ll try again in a few weeks,
The lesson: I got out of my head and went for it.
Overthinking can deter our efforts at work as well. If we go back and forth about a decision we made or having to say the word “no” to a request from a colleague. Have you ever had times when you beat yourself up for telling someone no you can’t do something? I have and then I tell myself you can’t do it all and tell myself it’s okay to say no and turn my focus to a task that needs my attention.
How much time is wasted overthinking about could of, should of, would of?
I don’t have it all figured out. When I find myself spiraling into overthinking I say to myself, Cara, your overthinking is not letting you get anything done. I turn my attention to psyching myself up with positive self-talk and say - Go For It!
In a Forbes article titled, “6 Ways to Stop Overthinking Everything” Amy Morin a mental strength trainer and international best selling mental strength author shares strategies to stop overthinking.
As I’ve gotten older I believe this can be easier, I consider the multiple roles I play, mother, partner, friend, daughter, colleague, leader, volunteer...
I am more aware now than ever of my behavior and will catch myself overthinking. I notice when I’m thinking too much.. However, depending on the time of year, the current personal or professional life stressors that are happening can determine if I do this better on some days than others. If I’m honest there are times that my overthinking hinders making a decision or moving forward. I have to intentionally notice my own behavior.
i think many of us are afraid to admit our overthinking, however, if we are able to be aware of our own behavior we are able to respond positively and change our behavior. Doing so creates a useful response to others and gives attention to our own personal wellbeing.
My favorite response to my overthinking is finding time to reflect. I find peace reading a devotion in the morning over coffee to have personal time with God. This gives me the time and space to speak with God and hand over my worries. Overtime, I’ve been able to see when I’m not having enough reflection time during the week. When this occurs I tend to spiral into overthinking, anxiousness and worry. Now that I know this about myself I voice the importance of personal reflection time to my family and the importance of having time to be by myself in quiet (doing so contributes to me being a better mother, partner, friend, colleague...).
We all have days where we spend to much time in our thoughts. Consider how you will stop overthinking everything and GO FOR IT!
Light Moving Through Autonomy
“Learning to use strengths and act on values enriches the society. When students struggle to define their best selves, rather than succumbing to passivity or alienation, they fulfill their own potential and renew the world around them, one corner at a time.” – Chickering 1969; Chickering & Reisser 1993
Autonomy, Interdependence, Oh my!
Moving through Autonomy to Interdependence is Chickering’s (1969) third vector (originally named Developing Autonomy) out of the seven developed vectors (click here to see all seven vectors).
Autonomy “implies mastery of oneself and one’s powers. In addition to becoming free from the dictates and interferences of others, one must also be free from disabling conflicts or contradictions within one’s own personality” (Gibbs, 1979, p. 119). For this to occur a student should be making progress in managing their emotions (see my past blog here about Vector 2 managing emotions). This is needed as students explore and experiment and it sometimes can involve feelings of guilt or anxiety as students let go of old dependencies (when seeking independence from their parents or peers) (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).
As students move through autonomy toward interdependence, three things need attention (Chickering & Reisser, 1993, p. 117):
Students who are new to the university (first-years and sophomores) may indicate more signs of emotional dependence and instrumental dependence especially if the student has not progressed in managing their emotions and if they lack confidence to make self-directed decisions or are fearful to pursue an opportunity.
For example, when interacting with first-year and sophomore students there are a variety of situations a student is finding themselves in where they are needing confidence in their ability socially and intellectually as well as managing their emotions to best navigate these experiences, such as:
Students find themselves in various communities (classrooms, student organization meetings, residence halls, campus recreation facilities, dining halls, etc.) within the larger university community. For those of us working with students our goal is to create environments that best challenge and support them to become independent with a goal of interdependence. We want students to be able to be their true selves within a community, to find their strengths and act on values that contribute to the university community and beyond.
Students who have the ability to find their place within the campus community and see themselves as a committed member are more likely to thrive and be contributors to the overall welfare of the community.
To think about this more deeply, Chickering and Reisser (1993) created questions framed to understand students moving through autonomy toward interdependence by sharing dimensions to assist in better understanding.
The first dimension, venturing, describes students as being open to new experiences, willing to initiate things, and able to confront questions and problems to disagree. The second, self-sufficiency pertains to students’ ability to know how to get help and make good use of available resources. The third, interdependence addresses students’ ability to know their place in community and their personal responsibility to community (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).
Here are excerpted questions from each dimension defined above from Education and Identity (Chickering & Reisser, 1993, p. 119-121 ).
In the chapter titled, Moving Through Autonomy Toward Interdependence, Chickering and Reisser use data from the questions above to explain the third vector in more detail.
We must acknowledge the fact that the above questions were published over 30 years ago.
With that in mind, how do students today who are between the ages of 18-25 (iGen/GenZ) move through autonomy toward interdependence?
Before answering that question, place the question in the context of looking across generations (iGen, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, Silent).
As times change, we need to consider how moving through autonomy toward interdependence is critical for each generation. However, how one individual might move from being codependent to finding emotional independence, instrumental independence and interdependence will vary by generation (Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Silent).
In a recent blog by the Army & Navy Academy, the author shares a little about the current traditional aged college students who are iGens. The blog describes attributes of the generation and how they are different from previous generations? The blog shares helpful links to recent sources about iGens, check it out!
As a parent of an iGen and being a Generation X/Millennial Cusper myself, it is clear that there are similarities and differences concerning what I might have needed versus what my son or my current college students need today to move through autonomy toward interdependence. .
How will we create communities that give students an opportunity to learn how and to know when to get help (if it is health related, academic program related, student employment related, and so on)?
How will students come to find their true self and find their sense of place in community?
Consider how you might best challenge and support 18-25 year olds in your life who are moving through autonomy toward interdependence.
Contribute to community and develop a student’s light!
“To accept responsibility for your own feelings, your own triggers, and your own experience does not mean to stop communicating with others about how their words and actions affect you. You can own your emotions by not blaming others, and still give the people in your life gentle, loving feedback about how they can treat you in a way that helps your healing and happiness. Creating safe spaces is an interdependent process. It's not ever all about you and it's not ever all about the other person. It's about you coming together and working on the dynamics of your relationship together, taking responsibility for your own part and doing what you can to contribute to the well-being of the other.”
Chickering, A. (1969). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Chickering, A., and Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gibbs, B. (1979). Autonomy and authority in education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 13, 119-132.
I enjoy writing my blog but if I’m honest there are weeks that I don’t even no where to start. I have to decide to be inspirational, light hearted or educational, I wasn’t sure what would come of this week’s post but I hope you find it is all three.
Each week my blog may impact different people which is the whole purpose. My hope is to kindle little lights that ignite other lights instead of extinguish them.
I’m extremely passionate about posting every week even on days when I find that it is 24 hours before I am about to post and I find myself still brainstorming my thoughts, my ideas shift even at 5am the day I’m posting (and I’m typically editing as I walk on the track at the local YMCA).
Then bam! The light switch is kindled.
I mean that’s how a good fire gets started and burns strong, right?
I have to intentionally open myself up to things I enjoy because that tends to lead to my idea for the week.
I open myself to the universe to kindle my light within.
Before opening myself up to start the kindling process I place myself in airuatiobs that open my heart and mind.
A few ways to kindle a light is by:
As, I was thinking about a kindled light I thought of someone I met back in October of 2019.
His light is lit!
Davian “DJ” Robinson.
I heard DJ speak as a keynote for a state campus recreation conference about “How he Recs” and later in the afternoon he attended my session on equity, diversity and inclusion. At the end of the session there was an automatic bond between us, I could feel the fire being kindled for our passion to create inclusive environments for various identities and our love for adventure!
Check out this story about DJ:
Well, a few months have passed since I met DJ. I believe the universe connects us at the right moments.
Wednesday of this week I attended the Grand Opening for UNC Charlotte’s University Recreation facility,
As I toured the facility with my fiancé and campus recreation colleagues, we traveled throughout spaces and found ourselves on the lower level where DJ was working out with his personal trainer.
I worked myself through the crowd and said, “Hey DJ, I’m Cara I met you at a conference in the fall I heard you speak and you later heard me speak.” He jumped in excitement and gave me a huge hug.
If that’s not having your light kindled I don’t know what is!
DJ’s light kindled my light on Wednesday.
Sometimes when we find our light being extinguished we have to place ourselves in situations to keep lit!
“Let us not curse the darkness. Let us kindle little lights.” - Dada Vaswani
CLEAR. BRILLIANT. RADIANT. GLOWING. WELL-LIT.
Luminous in the free dictionary is defined as emitting light in the dark; shining bright. The site continues with:
1. radiating or reflecting light; shining; glowing
2. full of light; well-lit
3. easily understood; lucid; clear
4. enlightening or wise
If your true nature is luminous, you need to open up to “being real” and radiate your authentic self.
Northouse (2019) shares, “authentic leadership is shaped and reformed by critical life events that act as triggers to growth and greater authenticity. Being sensitive to these events and using them as springboards to growth may be relevant to many people who are interested in becoming leaders who are more authentic (p. 211).
As you reflect on the past year, what events will assist you in spring boarding your personal growth to develop your capacity to emit your true nature?
What do you need to understand about your true nature?
Perhaps you need to self-assess your capacity for authentic leadership. The Authentic Leadership Self-Assessment Questionnaire assesses four components of the process for exhibiting authenticity: self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency. The questionnaire allows you to see which components you are stronger and weaker in to assist in interpreting your authentic leadership. Click here to complete the assessment: ALSAQ
As you embark on 2020, you will have to decide if you will radiate your true nature or dim your light by not allowing others to see who you truly are?
My hope this year for you is to be a luminous light.
Your true nature is luminous, get out there and emit light in the darkness...You were meant to shine bright!
Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice. Eighth ed. SAGE. Thousand Oaks, CA.
Wrapping up 2019!
We feel secure when we are bound together with people, places and things at times. Especially when anything truly knows us, gives us strength, provides us meaning and empowers us to be courageous.
Being bound is important, but when we choose to let loose of people, places and things that hold us back from who we are destined to be we are given an opportunity to release any binds holding us back.
Become the unbound light you are meant to be.
I believe there are times we need to be unbound. We need to not feel confined to a certain way of doing things and we need to free ourselves of anything that weighs us down.
As we finish unwrapping our gifts and begin to wrap up 2019, there are a few things I would like for us to consider asking ourselves before entering 2020 (don’t worry we have about five days to do this!) I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the questions shared here:
As we think about these questions, I encourage you to find a time and a place that gives you a sense of peace to be with yourself to reflect.
When I prepare for each year I start thinking about the binds I wish to have continue in my life that keep me secure and the binds that I need to release.
These binds that I wish to keep can be easily understood as well as heart wrenching if they are kept or released.
Secure binds that I wish to keep this year are the relationships with my immediate family and my enjoyment for activities surrounding health and wellbeing. The binds I wish to release myself from are environments that I feel are not inclusive.
My hope is to have my unbound light shared in the places that need it the most, to step out of my own understanding of what is right, to listen to God and the Holy Spirit who are guiding me to have open arms to all needing love. I will not cohere to environments that exclude others.
This quote by Abraham Lincoln had me thinking about what I will part from this year.
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
- Abraham Lincoln
For almost a half year I have struggled with where I will place my energies in listening to God and the purpose I am meant to lead. It lead me to a difficult decision the end of this year to leave my current church home that I have been a part of for three years.
Some of my reflections this year:
I have been struggling with my purpose for a few months now and trying to figure out where I belong as a member of a church. There are moments when I feel like I’m in a ditch because of my work with equity, diversity and inclusion. I have had friends close to me with various identities attend my church and have chosen not to attend (for example because of their sexual orientation and their family not feeling welcomed). I also have struggled with the importance of finding a place that embraces interfaith dialogue.
I truly believe as a light of God it is hard for me not to embrace various spiritual beliefs and to break bread with others around me who are different. On the daily I am working with colleagues who are Muslim, Jewish, international, gay, lesbian, transgender, black, brown, rich, poor, conservative, liberal, undocumented, and the list goes on.
Love is love.
I have spent so much quiet time with God trying to work through the decision to step away. I appreciate my former church and church family. My hope is to continue to have relationships with many whom are dear friends. My former church was the place in 2016 that ignited my relationship with God and broke my heart to love people. I appreciate and love them all so much and that they were open to hear my recent struggles.
God is in my ear telling me to use Jesus as my vessel to be the light while also embracing and loving all those who are different from me.
All of us are loved by God and being open to love everyone as the Samaritan did is important to me. Deciding to release myself from my former church hit me hard and continues to do so, it still has me on a roller coaster. I have cried hard in solitude, knowing it is God continuing to break my heart even more, God’s love encourages me to be courageous.
The question on my heart these days when I have conversations with God: What is the place where I can shine my light bright and embrace difference?
I will continue to pray about next steps and be patient. I will consider what I will bind myself to and what I will release myself from knowing I can exude an unbound light.
I have had so many friends all over the world with various identities and for many their foundation of their identity is being Christian. I will bind myself to opportunities where I will have Jesus be my vessel to love all and to environments that welcome all. It is not my place to judge right from wrong. I will make my voice heard and unbind myself from environments that are not welcoming to all identities.
This year for me the binds I’m keeping and releasing had to do with my spiritual and religious life. What part of your life are you considering to bind yourself to and what part are you going to shine your unbound light.
I ask us again to consider the following questions:
Remember you have always had permission to shine your unbound light.
Light Celebrating in Complexity
The holiday season can have us reliving past heartache, wishing for things we don’t have, and missing those we’ve lost.
Listen to your heart, what fills it?
How can you bring a sense of care to yourself and others?
We can see the outside appearance of someone as we walk by them in the hallway at work or as we scroll to see their smiles on social media. To each other we can sometimes view each other as pieces of perfection.
Today with this post my only wish is to acknowledge that many of us are faced with complexity as we guide ourself through celebrating the holiday season
For some of us it could be the loss of a loved one, a divorce or breakup, financial concerns or being far away from loved ones (and the list goes on). This could be you or someone close to you.
My healing from my parents divorce and my own from eight years ago has evolved. My parents got divorced when I was six and it started me on the path of various holiday traditions based on my parents availability or lack there of. Much of it was hard to understand as a child. I would never wish divorce on anyone, however, my own divorce taught me so much about the importance of putting the child’s needs before my own.
Even if I struggled with the loss of not having my son with me through parts of the holiday season it was important not to deny my ex husband the time he deserves with his son. It takes time to build new traditions in divorce life and it probably will not look the same each year. I’ve learned that the happiness of my son and my ex makes it better for all of us all around, giving my son even more people to love him. Even in the seriousness of divorce and the complexity that comes celebrating the holiday season it helps to find humor in the situation.
If you or someone close to you is currently celebrating in the complexity how about sharing a laugh, a tear and some good old humor filled with love.
To be a light celebrating in complexity this holiday season...
1. Acknowledge the reality that life is complex.
2. Give into tears and laughter this season.
3. Listen to your heart and give yourself a break.
4. Understand that others have their on challenges celebrating complexity.
5. Share a hug, it might just make you and someone else feel a bit better.
6. Be gentle with your words and intentional with your actions.
7. See the light in a child’s eyes and have it remind you that we are all children needing love and light, don’t deny a child what they need.
Open your eyes and heart, shine your light in the complexity. Listen with intent, the answer lies within you. Give your light permission to celebrate in the complexity.
Light Going Against the Grain
Would you have courage to use your voice to say what needs to be said?
Would if it meant standing by yourself in pure vulnerability?
Would if it meant letting go or moving on to fulfill your purpose?
Would if it made you lose something?
Would you stick with something if it went against the grain of everything you believed in and hoped for?
The phrase going against the grain is when something is very difficult for you to accept or do, because it conflicts with your values or beliefs.
Choosing to be turned on by conflict versus turned off engages us in doing something about it. Sometimes you will be used for what you can do by others who dislike the thread that you represent to fight the battle that needs to be fought.
When you face opposition and are figuring out how you will respond, it will be hard. Some days you will respond as a warrior ready to fight the battle and other days as a worshipper ready to spread the word about what’s worth fighting for.
Are you in a moment of going against the grain, in a place where it is challenging to accept or be a part of something that conflicts with your beliefs?
Will you be courageous and make your voice heard through battle and give worth to what you need to fight for?
We will all face battles and will have to choose how to respond, in those moments we are a light going against the grain. Go out there, do not be afraid and do not get discouraged. Get out there and face them.
A Light Blessed By Beverly
Many times we spend our days rushing around focusing on the things we have to get done. In the middle of our checking things off the to do list something happens to slow us down.
In the moment we think, ugh, why now?
Now, I have to deal with this really? This is going to *************.
So where am I going with this?
On Wednesday of this week I was checking off the to do’s so I could head out for the holiday break with family. I had gone to the doctor for a checkup, dropped off collected items to Goodwill and arrived back at the house to finish packing.
As I was collecting my things to get out of the car I realized I did not have my wallet. Oh no, was it in the car, at Goodwill or did I leave it thirty minutes away at the doctor’s office.
I don’t have time for this today!
I traveled back to Goodwill to ask if I could double check my bag that I dropped off to see if maybe just maybe I dropped my wallet into the bags.
It was not there, I left my phone number with the store and asked for the cashier to call me if someone happens to find it.
I left and began to drive thirty minutes back to the doctor’s office to see if I left it there. My eleven year old son was traveling with me, we get to the office which is a three story office building with multiple doctors’ offices (eye, pediatrician, and more).
We first went to my doctor’s office and asked if anyone had found a wallet. No wallet had been found. My son and I started on the first floor and went to every single office to ask around about the wallet.
No wallet here, no wallet here, no wallet here.
After almost an hour of searching and sharing my phone number with various receptionists, nurses, and patients, it was time to give up and start calling the bank and credit card companies to cancel cards.
As I drove back to the house, I spoke to providers through the Bluetooth canceling cards.
After a few hours of “wallet loss stress” and being behind with our travel schedule my phone rang.
It was Beverly, a stranger who called to tell me she found my wallet and would be happy to get it to me.
Thank you, Beverly!
Beverly is an amazing human, she cared for a stranger more than about herself for a moment. I was fortunate to have a stranger like Beverly in my life that day, for that I am most grateful.
This week I got to be a light blessed by Beverly.
May we be grateful for the Beverlys in our life. Today let’s thank all of the Beverlys and choose to be a Beverly in someone else’s life.
Beverly, I promise to pay it forward.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Light’s Love Language
Have you ever thought about how you communicate your love for someone? Do you know what language to use?
In Gary Chapman’s book titled, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, he provides five languages for us to use to communicate with our partner (and can be used to better express our love for our best friends, parents, and children).
We can use love languages to better understand those closest to us by speaking our loved one’s language and giving ourselves self love language.
Partner’s Love Language
Self Love Language
If you are interested in finding out your love language click here heart ❤️
Understanding your partner’s primary love language contributes to a stronger bond and creates opportunities to support your partner during challenging and celebratory times.
My primary love language is quality time. For me I am not concerned with the amount of time I spend with my partner. I feel comforted when I enjoy quality time where I have my partner’s undivided attention. I don’t want to simply be included in a moment, I want to enjoy being with my partner when there are few distractions (television, phones, really any distractions). My fiancé and I talk about this quite a bit, especially when life gets busy. We intentionally make plans to spend time with each other, things such as morning coffee to catch up about life and the world to planning a date night for the two of us.
My fiancé’s primary love language is words of affirmation. He enjoys receiving messages from me that show I care or cards that I leave around for him to find. Those who have this as their primary love language enjoy shared words of affirmation on a consistent basis and feel best supported as the receiver of this language.
The funny thing is as individuals we tend to give our partners the love language we prefer but this may not be the best approach because you are not meeting their specific need. For example, my fiancé and I both tend to give each other our love language. It’s not always easy giving others what they need but let me tell you the benefit of speaking the right love language can go a long way. It doesn’t just happen, you have to dedicate time to talk about how to best communicate to meet each other’s needs.
By acknowledging each other’s love language you are able to invest in the relationship.
I haven’t always done the relationship thing right, Understanding the five languages is one resource to try and is a great dialogue starter for me and my fiancé. Creating space to chat about each other’s love language helps with doing life together.
There are times he is out serving our community as a firefighter and I am away traveling for conferences presenting or attending meetings. We have to be attentive to each other’s needs for our relationship to flourish, It’s not always easy as we both have learned in the past and when life gets busy it can be challenging. We know it takes work, we are willing to do the work for a strong partnership even when the path of life throws us curve balls.
How will you communicate your love and speak to the light’s love language in your life?
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct. I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction the satisfaction of having genuinely loved”
- Gary Chapman
Light Enduring Pain to Enjoy the Gain
What’s the idea of calling me (or you) Wonder Woman?
The above question continues to swirl in my mind. It makes sense that the question resides in my brain due to my current research with a colleague. We are studying women’s experiences in campus recreation and listening to stories of 36 different women. I dialogue daily with students who are women navigating their college journey and converse with various women that I mentor and sponsor.
Many times as women we place a woman on a pedestal, we believe they are perfect and we may even strive to be like them. We create their story from only seeing on side, the one portrayed in public (social media or at work) not the one in private (at home or with someone trusted).
As women, I believe it is important for us to publicly share snapshots of our private story with other women for us to truly understand the reality of how we do what we do.
Hey, you think I’m a Wonder Woman. Oh, you think I’m a Wonder Woman. Well friend, how about we just get real with each other.
Would if we shared more about what we endure and what brings us joy. By not acknowledging the pain it may be more challenging to let the gains begin.
To endure pain and enjoy gains.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines pain as
Merriam Webster dictionary defines gain as
Discomfort or trouble that we encounter will find us throughout our lived experience. If we look back and reflect on past pain we may do a better job of enjoying our gains. By reflecting on past pain and gains we exhibit resiliency and the future pain we experience will not have us compromising moments to enjoy our gains.
How should Wonder Women be described?
Maybe just maybe we describe ourselves as imperfect, perfectly imperfect. That the true Wonder Women are the women who choose vulnerability, who empower others by sharing their pain and encourage others to enjoy their gains.