There is no doubt COVID-19 has significantly impacted all of our lives. It has brought challenges we never thought we would face and has forced us to find new ways to do our jobs, sustain our relationships, and function in our day-to-day lives. There is no doubt this pandemic has taken an emotional toll on all of us, particularly those living with anxiety. And while we are still in the midst of uncertain times, there are ways we can better manage our anxiety and restore a sense of well-being.
Keep a Routine
Establishing a consistent routine that involves regular meals, exercise, and sleep is critical to regulating our moods and managing anxiety. But the pandemic interrupted many of our previously established routines. And if you have yet to create new one, now is the time. Having a new routine helps us remember that life is continuing on. Daily routines can also support us in feeling more grounded, purposeful, and resilient.
Maintaining healthy relationships with loved ones and friends is always essential to mental health and well-being. Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it difficult to connect with others in some ways in which we were previously accustomed. This has left many of us feeling lonely or isolated. But we can still pick up the phone, send a text, or get on a video call. The more we can connect with others, whether to share worries and fears, or just have a good laugh, can make a huge difference.
Focus on the Here and Now
The virus has brought a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty triggers anxiety. It is easy to get caught in a cycle of anxious thoughts – all those “what-ifs” about what the future might bring. Unfortunately, this just compounds the anxiety. Concentrating on the present moment by focusing on what is happening right now, rather what might happen in the future is essential to managing anxiety. Of course, this is easier said than done. But our brains are trainable, and the more we can notice when our thoughts wander from the present moment and bring them back to the present moment, the easier it becomes. Some ways to come back to the present moment include:
COVID-19 has made our worlds smaller. Seeing friends, going to our favorite restaurants, or visiting family are all things that look very different these days. Working from home, which perhaps felt novel in the beginning, just feels mundane now. And any sort of travel, whether for business or pleasure, has certainly come to a halt. The monotony of the days can leave us feeling restless, anxious, and unmotivated. Thus, it is vital to find ways to “shake things up”. Instead of scrolling endlessly through social media feeds or mindlessly playing that phone game for hours, try using technology in a different way - by traveling virtually. After the pandemic hit, countless museums, national parks, and zoos created virtual tours for people to take from the safety of their homes. These virtual tours can help break up the monotony of the day and keep our minds stimulated, even if we are stuck on the couch. Check out this list of virtual tours, or do a quick internet search to find what might interest you.
During challenging times, it can be tough to notice the good stuff. However, finding ways to be grateful can really boost our ability to cope. Practicing gratitude increases the “feel-good” hormones in the brain – serotonin and dopamine, and has been shown to improve immunity and an overall sense of wellbeing. There are many ways to bring more gratitude into our lives:
Practice News Distancing
For months, every newspaper, social media platform, and tv station has been flooded with coverage about the pandemic. While staying up-to-date and informed is important, there is such a thing as too much information. Being inundated with any information, especially that which is stressful in nature, can be overwhelming. So, just as we are practicing social distancing, we also need to be practicing “news distancing”. Try designating certain times throughout the day to “unplug” from news and social media. Or try “unplugging” altogether for a day or two (you could designate a trusted friend or loved one to share news updates as necessary).
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your anxiety, remember, it is OK to ask for help. Mental health support is more accessible than ever, with many therapists offering telehealth sessions remotely, either via phone or videoconference.
4 weeks vs. Months and Years of mental health treatment
The greatest tragedy in humankind is not being abandoned by your loved ones, but that you abandoned yourself!
When you doubt yourself and put other people’s needs before yours, and when you engage in self-destructive behavior, you have abandoned yourself!
This is the reason why I created my signature therapy, “Inner Twin.”
My job is to remind you of the truth. The truth is that you are absolutely powerful beyond measure, and whatever you want in your life, you can make it happen! No one can take that power
away from you!
Unfortunately, in the current mental health system, you may spend tons of money, and years in therapy and not get the results you desire!
Indeed, it is time for a big revolution in the mental health world!
At Zen Institute, we can help you achieve your desired outcome in as little as four weeks!
The variety of clients who have completed our program includes people who had never received psychotherapy treatment and people who had been in treatment for years.
The feedback we have received since day one, which was 12 years ago has always been the same:
“I can’t believe it works!”
“It needs to be made available to everyone in this world!”
We utilize the shortest amount of treatment time (4 weeks) to produce the most amazing desired outcome!
Since we opened up Zen Institute, the feedback from our alumni is that 100% of them would recommend their loved ones to come for treatment!
Here is what makes our treatment different from others:
#1. Inner twin therapy: It is indeed the missing link in traditional therapy – The powerful foundation of self-healing work!
Once you connect to your authentic self, your higher self, and tap into your inner power, you will be able to build this solid self-confidence, that will always stay with you no matter what is happening around you!
#2. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT): Learn about the combination of Eastern and Western philosophy, change your thoughts; change your life!
#3. Dialectical Behavior Therapy: (DBT): it is focused on Mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
#4. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: (EMDR) This is a very powerful treatment modality that can help you let go of unresolved issues and past traumas!
This program is uniquely tailored for your individual needs, which cannot be achieved in treatment that is mainly geared towards group work.
Over the years, we have been asked to open up Zen Institute branches in New York City and San Francisco.
As we continue to serve the world, our goal is to offer this program to everyone who is in pain and suffering!
Indeed, you are not here to compete; you are here to connect! You are not here to suffer; you are here to celebrate! Celebrate the fact that you are absolutely powerful beyond measure!
Part 1: Who are you?
Part 2: How to connect to your Authentic Self - Inner Twin
Part 3: Be one with your Inner Twin = Amazing Life!
“Who are you to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?... Who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson
When I was 10 years old, during a casual conversation, my mom told me, “You were born as such an ugly baby, you came out with a full head of hair, and you looked like a cat! No nurses wanted to hold you!” Mom even gave me an endearing nick name: “Ugly Duckling”. As I grew up, this stuck with me. While I occasionally received compliments about my physical appearance from others, I never believed them. My self-esteem was gone by the time I was a little girl.
Many of us struggle to find who we are. We take on other people’s points of view and make them our own. If people think we are physically fit and attractive, our self-esteem goes up, if people criticize our appearance, our self-esteem goes down.
In the case of not liking the way we look, it may drive us to binge eating, drinking excessively, using illegal drugs, you name it… all kinds of addictive behavior! All we want is to get rid of that yucky feeling inside of us. In reality, we ARE the same amazing human beings whether our weight goes up or down! What we really need is to know who we truly are, and the truth will set us free! We no longer need to use substances to numb ourselves and run away from our emotional pain.
If the idea of “Living fearlessly” is appealing to you, I would like to invite you to go on a journey of self-discovery:
Step 1: Remember who you are:
As a human being, the essence of who you are is pure love, pure peace and pure joy. You don’t need to earn love, find peace or pursue joy, it is in your DNA!
LOVE is why you are here. Living a life without feeling loved is like a guitar without strings, there is no live music anymore! You walk around like an empty shell. You feel like you’re missing something, but you just don’t know what it is.
The definition of love is “An intense feeling of deep affection.” When you love someone, you show interest and affection to this person. Constantly criticizing and beating up someone is not an act of love. Unfortunately, we all are guilty of that. The question is, are you ready to learn how to love, honor and cherish yourself?
Step 2: Love yourself:
Having self-compassion is a learned skill. We live in a fear-based world, and practicing love and kindness can be very challenging, especially when everyone around you is negative or critical! When you set your default on love instead of fear, your loving energy overrides negativity just like the darkness disappears when the Iight comes in!
How do you love yourself? Personally, I spent the majority of my life searching for love – in all kinds of wrong places. I thought if I loved someone selflessly, someone eventually would love me back. WRONG! No one can love myself for me just like no one can eat or breathe for me. I needed to learn how to love myself first, so I could love someone freely without attachments. I went to many therapists to learn how to love this person I hated so much and had to live with. No one could give me a concrete answer. They told me, “Just meditate, think positive, and be kind to yourself.” They all sounded great, and I gave them a try, they would work for a while, but eventually none of them worked for me. Why? It took me many years to figure this out: I showed no desire to be with the person I am. I hated myself so much, I just wanted to disappear or be someone else.
One day, after I acted out again feeling so ashamed of myself. I grabbed a chair and started to talk to myself. I admitted to myself that I had been an asshole to myself, then I switched chairs, again talking to myself, “It’s ok. I love you just the way you are.” “Let’s start over. I’ve got your back.” In that moment, I experienced an enormous amount of love and compassion. I starting to cry uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that after years of abandoning and hating myself, there was actually a person inside of me who would forgive me and take me back. That was the beginning of my self-healing journey. This was how I created my signature therapy “Inner Twin”.
Who is your Inner Twin? Your Inner Twin is your conscience, your higher self, your authentic self… that part of you that tells you the truth whether you’d like to hear it or not. Your Inner Twin has your best interests in mind, and will always love you unconditionally. This is about learning positive self-talk. It extracts that part of you that knows how to care for and love someone, such as your pets, your family and friends. Instead of offering love and compassion outwardly, you are offering it to yourself. I call this part of you: your “Inner Twin”, simply because you are connected to this part of you just like identical twins are connected to one another.
People constantly ask me how to build self-confidence? My answer is always the same: You must get connected to your Authentic Self, your Inner Twin! Your Inner Twin is like the world’s biggest bank that belongs to you. Once you are connected, you’ll have access to unlimited wealth. Spiritually speaking, you will feel confident and comfortable in your own skin, wherever you go!
True love comes from within. Nothing from the external world can bring you long lasting love. Continuing to look for love outside of you is like jumping on the train that goes to “Crazy Town”, you will never feel good enough about yourself!
Maybe you have tried very hard to get approval from others. Here is the good news! You already have the approval from your Inner Twin! You don’t need to earn love or prove yourself to others. It is your birthright to be loved! The only person in this Universe who knows how to love you just the way you want to be loved is YOU! It’s time to be with your Inner Twin and get on a fearless journey that brings you abundant enthusiasm and self-confidence!
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” ~ The top five regrets of the dying by Bronnie Ware
3 Steps to simplify your life:
Step 1: Give up false Self-Identity
Step 2: Give up being perfect
Step 3: Give up being right
“No, no. I trust your judgment. Implicitly. You're just wrong.” ~ Hy Conrad
It feels right to be right, but do you know that being right all the time is actually wrong? No one knows everything at all times, so chances are sometimes you are wrong! There is an even more annoying situation: you know that you are absolutely right, but people want to argue with you just to prove that you are wrong. How do you deal with that?
The first year I arrived in America, I landed in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I remember it was a Sunday afternoon. My partner Roger and I went into a grocery store and did our weekly grocery shopping. On my way out, I noticed that there were two sets of doors. I went towards the door to my left, and Roger screamed at top of his lungs, “Why are you going that way? My car is parked on the right side of the door!” He shook his head with a very disgusted look on his face. The interpretation in my head was “I am so stupid, I can never do it right!” I completely shut down. This was a typical communication pattern I had with Roger.
Wanting to be right was my mission for many years. It felt like it was the only way to survive in the relationship with Roger. Looking back, I know it is the root of my perfectionism. I had to be perfect, or I would be attacked by him. Throughout the 11 years of our relationship, I was constantly engaged in a competition with him to be right. It was very exhausting and eventually led to my suicidal thoughts.
Over the years, I have worked on giving up being right. Giving up being right also means giving up judgment.
“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” ~ Wayne Dyer
Practicing “No judgment” means sticking to the facts. For example, driving on a highway, if someone abruptly pulls in front of my car, my instinct might be to yell “What a stupid a-hole! He shouldn’t be driving like this!” Sticking to the facts would be: “This man pulled his car in front of mine abruptly, and I got scared.” Stop right here. Do not run the mental movie in your head.
Negativity breeds negativity. The more judgmental you are; the more negative you become. Giving up being right does not mean that you are wrong nor becoming a door mat. It means you are able to see the big picture and understand that there are two sides to every story. You can always learn to see the positive side.
Giving up being right opens up a world of peace. You will notice things that used to bother you now roll off your back effortlessly. People around you are still being rude and judgmental, but your choice of giving up being right somehow eliminates the negative energy. It brings you more loving kindness and a deeper sense of understanding towards humanity.
Next time someone is challenging your beliefs, use that opportunity to practice giving up being right:
Step 1: Notice yourself feeling the need to defend yourself. Drop it.
Step 2: Focus on how you feel emotionally. Stay in your heart and feel your feelings without judgment.
Step 3: Use this format to communicate: “When you behave this way, I feel… (Use feeling words: anger, sad, hurt, lonely, and so on). Take it from your head to your heart. The power of using feeling words is that any human being on this planet can relate to you.
It’s ok to have disagreements with someone you care about. You can still love this person, but you don’t have to pay the price of feeling like a loser if someone disagrees with you.
Ask yourself this question: At the end of day, what matters to you the most? Winning the argument? Proving to people how smart you are? For me, it is having inner peace and knowing that I have done my best to love, forgive and create the life I want.
“Being right” is the job description for a drama queen. It is guaranteed to provide you with a chaotic life. Life is so much simpler if you give up being right. Once you have made this conscious decision, the rest will fall into place!
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer
3 Steps to simplify your life:
Step 1: Give up false Self-Identity
Step 2: Give up being perfect
Step 3: Give up being right
Forget about being perfect, let’s be curious. When you are trying to be perfect, you become rigid; when you are curious, you become creative.
Growing up in Taiwan, just like all the other kids in Asia, I was trained to strictly follow the rules. If one chose not to, the negative consequence could be harsh. For example, back in the 70’s, if someone robbed a bank, they could receive the death penalty.
When I was 12 years old, my favorite class was art. One of the assignments was to create a picture of a vase just as the one shown in the art book. I did this assignment with my friend Nina. As I was having fun making my vase look like a mosaic, with all different shapes and colors, Nina said, “Oh, no, you are doing this completely wrong! We are supposed to make our pictures look exactly like the one in the book.” The stubborn part of me refused to make another one, even though I understood what the rule was.
After turning in my artwork, it was time to review the results. Mr. Wong stood in front of the class and said, “Look at this picture. All of you in this class turned in this assignment exactly as I asked, except this one!” My heart dropped, “Holy shit, that is mine! I wish I could run away right now! Nina was right, I am in trouble!” I glanced over at her, and she gave me that “I told you so” look. Mr. Wong continued, “Indeed, this is the most creative piece I’ve seen in a long time. The shapes and colors in mosaic style bring a sense of playfulness and different meanings to us. The spirit of art really is to inspire others and to be inspired!”
Mr. Wong chose me to represent our school to compete with kids from other school districts. I felt flattered and scared at the same time. On the day of competition, after I set my easel up among other kids in a beautiful park, I panicked. I saw the watercolor picture done by the boy right next to me. There were beautiful palm trees, and by the sidewalk there was a bench and people walking around so vividly. It was an amazing painting! I said to myself, “I could never paint a beautiful picture like that…”
Finally, I got the courage to pick up brush and start to paint my picture, and I immediately messed up! The little perfectionist inside of me started talking: “The cloud is supposed to be fluffy, and the sky is supposed to be blue!” I used the wrong colors - dark gray, green and purple. Watercolor is the most unforgiving media. You can never go back to erase it if you don’t like the colors. I was very upset and I started to cry. I just wanted to pack everything up and go home.
Mr. Wong came by, and I told him why I wanted to give up. He looked at my picture and said, “No, you are doing just fine.” He picked up the paintbrush and added red, purple, orange, yellow and brown colors on the part where I messed up. It was magic! With just a few strokes on top of the mistake I made on my painting, it became a stunning sunset picture with dramatic colors in the sky. I couldn’t believe what I saw with my own eyes. Mr. Wong said, “See, sometimes the sky looks just like this!” This experience opened my eyes to see how my perfectionism had caused me to feel hopeless and helpless; and how giving up my need to be perfect actually brought a brand new perspective to my situation.
Being perfect is for “dead people”. Why? The heart rate of dead people is perfectly flat, and they will never make another mistake. They are done, and their lives are over! When you strive for perfection, you can be paralyzed by fear of failure or feelings of inadequacy and end up not wanting to do anything at all. The beauty of being a human being is that you are going to make many mistakes, and that’s okay. It’s how you learn. As long as you are alive, you have an unlimited ability to improve yourself! You get to play and go on a journey of self-discovery!
Being curious is the cure for perfectionism. Today, pick one thing you are afraid to do, set your fear aside, and focus on being curious – be creative, resourceful, and have fun! If you can learn to enjoy this moment, it is more than likely that you will continue to enjoy your adventure in the next moment too. This is how you simplify your life - by giving up being perfect!
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” - Leonard Cohen
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Step 1: Give up false Self Identity
Step 2: Give up being perfect
Step 3: Give up being right
Simplicity is one of the most attractive qualities in life!
In this fast-paced ego-driven world, we often forget about who we are and attach ourselves to false self-identities. False self-identities create confusion, anxiety and depression. It’s like wearing clothes that don’t fit, yet pretending that you like it. Eventually you lose touch with who you truly are. You strive for perfection. You believe that who you are is based on the things you own, how you look, and your position on the social ladder.
Here is a story about how a false self-identity can destroy a human being. When I was 7 years old, my father had a very prestigious job in Taiwan. After working decades for the government, he was about to be promoted as the head of the aviation administration for all of Taiwan.
My father was known for his brutal honesty and upright personality. At that time, many government officials were taking bribes. He wasn’t good with the political games and was disgusted with all of the corruption and bribery in the system. Eventually and ironically, he was framed and accused of bribery.
The lawsuit lasted for 10 years. In Taiwan a person could be tried repeatedly for the same crime until a guilty verdict was reached. Even though there were 3 verdicts of not guilty, the 4th verdict was guilty. My father ended up having to serve 6 months in prison. He went from being a brilliant charismatic strong man to an unemployed sad broken man. My father was completely destroyed because his entire self-identity was based on his career.
It is common for people to hold on to false self-identities. You can misidentify many things as your self-identity, such as what you do, how you look, your thoughts and feelings, who you are associated with, or your social status and possessions. In reality, you are much more than all of these!
So how do you train yourself to recognize that you are holding on a false self-identity?
#1: If you feel awful about yourself, that is an indication that you might be holding on something that doesn’t reflect who you truly are.
#2: If you feel like you are better than everyone else, then you might be holding on a false sense of security.
Make a commitment today to identify and give up all of your false self-identities. Your true self-identity is pure love, pure peace, and pure joy. When you have clarity about who you truly are, letting go becomes much easier. This is the first step of simplifying your life!
Life really is simple. Just be your true self! Allow yourself to be the flowing energy that is full of love, peace and joy. After all, life is like a box of chocolates… let yourself enjoy every piece of it!
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ~ Mother Teresa
Jenna Jarrold, MS, LAC, NCC