Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

The end of the year is often a time of looking back. What was great about the past year? What didn’t work so well? We often find ourselves performing a sort of audit on the past year so we can get a sense of closure prior to moving forward into the New Year. Last week’s post, “Top 10 Posts of 2010” resulted from my reviewing all of the posts I had made to “The Healing Project” in 2010 and determining which ones represented my best work.

I conducted a similar audit on my life as a whole and came up with 15 serious personal and professional wins for the year (including regular blogging!), as well as three key areas of my life which didn’t go as well as I would have liked. This audit created a firm foundation for my 2011 planning and I highly recommend that you do something similar.

The start of a new year is generally a time when we look forward instead of backwards. Many people set goals for the coming year, which are commonly referred to as “New Year’s Resolutions.” While such resolutions get a bad rap from many people (often because they are typically broken within a few short weeks), I am a fan of designating areas to work on in one’s life. In fact, this blog resulted from my wanting to change various areas of my life during 2010.

You’re probably familiar with the expression, “my past came back to haunt me,” and you likely have some personal examples related to this phrase. While it is always good to live in the present and embrace “the power of now,” do we ever fully escape our pasts? Can we truly be free of our mistakes and poor behavior of years gone by?

This post will focus on our so-called “sins of the past” and how they affect our lives in the present time. I will relate personal examples pertaining to my past relationships and physical health, and do my best to provide useful insights and suggestions for letting go of regrets and repercussions from the past.

A few years ago, I became highly “accident prone.” I broke three toes in three separate incidents, one of which necessitated a fairly involved surgery with a lengthy recovery time. I repeatedly bumped into things and hit my head on at least ten different occasions. After one of my head bumps led to an emergency room visit and a CAT scan, I decided I needed to look more closely at what was going on with all of my accidents.

I came to the conclusion that a large part of the problem had to do with not paying attention to what I was doing. My mind was always on what I had to do next, not on what I was doing in the moment. I frequently rushed around and felt frantic about getting everything done in a timely fashion. I was always running late to appointments and often drove too fast and somewhat recklessly trying to reach my destination on time. Needless to say, I was not living my life in a relaxed fashion!

A little over a year ago, I decided to allow myself more time to get things done and to be more mindful about my actions. This one simple decision made a significant impact on my life. Not only did I stop bumping my head, arms, and toes every few days, I also found myself feeling much more calm and peaceful. I began paying more attention to what I was doing in each moment instead of living for the future, whether it be two minutes or two years later. Without really intending to start being present as a spiritual practice, I experienced strong benefits in that realm. I started to become more of the person I wanted to be – happy, peaceful, calm, and joyous.

Sometimes a headache isn’t just a headache… This is something I’ve pondered in recent months as I’ve considered how often I suffer from migraines. Could it be possible that my headaches serve a purpose beyond causing me extreme pain and discomfort? My thoughts and realizations on this subject will be the focus of today’s post.
Inconvenient Migraines & Other Such Ailments

Last summer and fall, I attended classes three nights per week. Every two or three weeks, we would have a project to complete and hand in for course credit. We would usually be given one class period to use as a “work night” for our projects. After a few months of class, I noticed that I would almost invariably have a migraine on all project nights. Was this just a mere coincidence, or was something else behind it?

As I considered my project night migraines, I noticed that I would also get migraines on days or nights on which I had certain other commitments, such as a Toastmasters speech or a social function to attend. It is highly unlikely that my migraines on all of these days happened by chance, so perhaps there were other forces at play…

Last week, I wrote the post “Overspending,” about a recent shopping trip that resulted in my spending too much money and feeling that I had acted in a compulsive manner. Although there were important lessons inherent in that individual experience, it also raised the issue of compulsive behavior in general. This post is geared toward examining compulsive behavior, getting to the root of why we engage in such destructive actions, and looking at what we can do to begin to turn it around.
Compulsiveness Takes Many Forms…

I shared about my shopping and spending issues, but these are far from the only forms of compulsive behaviors with which I’ve struggled. I’ve also engaged in compulsive overeating, dieting, and exercising, and spending too much time working or surfing the internet, among other things. You may have grappled with similar issues, or you may have had problems with drinking, drugs, gambling, sex, or any number of other maladaptive behaviors. It doesn’t matter which of these behaviors has plagued you, the problem is usually rooted in the same causes.