Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: Words Of Wisdom (page 1 of 7)

Learning To Overcome Indecision

I’m an overthinker. Something as simple as choosing a seat in a restaurant is overwhelming. I’m constantly thinking about every possible outcome of any decision that lies before me, and every variable of decisions that would come from that those outcomes.

This overkill of analysis can be paralyzing.

Suddenly, none of the options before you seem like the right one and you find yourself unable to make the simplest of choices. It’s what causes you to spend two hours adding movies to your Netflix cue, only to rewatch something you’ve seen dozens of times. It’s what makes questions like “What do you want for dinner?” unbearable. And it’s just as frustrating for us as it is for the people who have to witness it.

Something as small as deciding what to eat at a restaurant becomes an internal debate. You want to try something new, but you don’t want to waste money on something you don’t like. Sure, that steak might be good, but that sauce may not be as good as you think. You’d better order those chicken nuggets instead.

Of course, this habit of picking the safe option bleeds into the bigger decisions. You stay at the job you hate because it’s all you know. You put up with mistreatment because standing up for yourself could backfire. Moving to a new city gets put on the backburner. Asking for a raise or trying a new hobby remain passing thoughts. Success and failure both seem terrifying, so you just keep choosing the metaphorical chicken nuggets.

Ultimately, we are robbing ourselves of happiness by thinking too much about things that don’t matter.

In my “Instruments of Life” romance series, the main character, Maggie, is also an over thinker. As I watch her learn to relax and trust her gut, I find myself growing along with her. Taking calculated risks is definitely the only way to find success in whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish. Coupled with mindfulness techniques, you can absolutely learn to silence the endless questions and analysis and make decisions with a clear head.

It seems to me that with any decision we face, there are three options.

1. Go with the safe option. This is often wrapped up in the decision to do nothing at all.  Sometimes this is the best decision, but we must make sure it’s not chosen purely out of fear.

2. Allow someone else to choose for us. Either through inaction (not asking for a raise) or explicitly asking someone else to make the call, we often stunt ourselves or settle for something we don’t want out of fear. Again, sometimes we need that push from others to expand our horizons, but we must ask ourselves if this is what we truly want. Do you really not care where you eat? Or are you afraid of picking something the other person won’t like?

3. Take the reigns ourselves.

Obviously, we want to take control ourselves. That’s why we run over all the angles in our minds until all the options seem terrible. Overthinking allows us to think we have a little control. We tell ourselves we are trying to make an informed decision, while blocking ourselves into inaction.

So, how do we break free from this cycle?

 

overcome anxiety, overthinking, indecision, worry

 

Start small

You don’t have to make giant leaps right away. Maybe you start with ordering something unusual from a favorite restaurant, or you take a different route home from work. Shake up your rut a little bit and get used to getting out of the safe zone. Then move on to bigger decisions. Answer honestly when someone asks where you want to go. Choose the movie. Once you get more comfortable with this, you can apply these decision making skills to bigger quandaries.

Slow down and breathe

Give yourself a moment to think about what you really want and figure out if this is something that needs to be decided right now. Clear your head so you can focus on the task at hand.

Know when to distract yourself

Obviously, distraction shouldn’t be your go-to move, but it can be useful. If you’re anxious about a decision and it doesn’t need to be decided right this minute, find something else to focus on. You may find that after your brain gets a little break you’re able to figure it out. Just don’t distract yourself to the point where you don’t make any decisions at all!

Ask yourself some questions.

How big of a decision is this really? Anxiety can make even the smallest decisions seem insurmountable. Think about it in the grand scheme of things. Does your decision really matter in the long run? What’s the worst that can happen if you choose either option? Is the worst really that bad? What do you stand to gain from choosing ___________? Is it better than not doing __________? Instead of bouncing around from possible outcome to possible outcome, think about the reality of those outcomes.

Put on the breaks.

All those questions can turn into an endless loop if you let them. Tell yourself firmly to stop the line of questioning once they’ve all been answered. Going over them repetively isn’t going to get you anywhere. Quiet your mind once more and make a choice.

Stick by your decision!

Don’t scare yourself out of doing what you know in your heart to be best.  Follow through with it. A note here, while I wouldn’t suggest easily letting others talk you out of something, if someone presents a fact you hadn’t thought of, take it into consideration. Ultimately, though, your choice must come from you, no matter how big or how small.

Practice, practice, practice!

Like any skill, you can’t expect to master this overnight. In fact, I would be lying if I said that I am anywhere near perfect myself. I still have moments where I can’t make up my mind to save my soul. I still worry over the same decisions and get nowhere. However, I find myself getting better and better as time goes on.

In the end, you have to decide you want to control your life. And it all starts by making decisions.

 

 

Embracing Your Song: A Story Of Personal Growth

I have always been the kind of person that is easily embarrassed. I prefer to keep things to myself and have never been one to show off.

It seems weird to say that. After all, I regularly spill my guts out for strangers to read on the internet and have released 3 smutty romance novels to date. I’ve put a few videos on YouTube, and used to use Periscope pretty regularly (which is something I’ve recently gone back to). I get drunk and sing karaoke whenever I get the chance and I used to be in bands.

By all accounts, people could be forgiven for thinking I’m an outgoing person. However, the fact remains. I’m not a very open person in the real world. I tend to shy away from sharing my talents with others.

With this in mind, I would like to tell you about a very recent breakthrough in my personal life.

For years, I have refused to play guitar in front of anybody.

There was this very real fear that I wasn’t good enough. I know a lot of guitar players who are much better than me, and I just knew I was opening myself up to comparison and criticism. Knowing that I’m a sensitive person by nature, I didn’t want to put myself in a position to have my passion ridiculed to the point where I could no longer enjoy it.

 

fear quote, embrace your song, be you, small step towards happiness, playing in front of others, guitar

 

Now, the logical solution to that problem would have been to practice more and get better. Yet, fear once again dampened that impulse. I didn’t want people to hear me struggling to learn something new. I figured it would be offensive to force the soundwaves on others and I figured no one wanted to hear the same few songs over and over, day in and day out.

To combat this, I resolved to practice only when I was home alone. Occasionally after a few drinks I’d play in front of my best friend or my husband, but I mostly kept that to myself. I’m pretty sure people began to think I just kept my guitars around for decoration.

I always had these simple goals in my head. I dreamt of playing guitar and leading sing alongs around a campfire or in my backyard with all my friends and family. I dreamt of entering open mic nights and playing in little cafes. I dreamt of playing in my living room without fear.

Every now and then I’d go through spurts where I’d play more often and learn some new songs. I’d build up a little confidence and pack my guitar for family camping trips. This time, I’d play. Inevitably the guitar would stay in the car and I’d be hit with an intense wave of disappointment. I could never bring myself to shake off the fear that held me back.

After a while, I gained a little bit more confidence and decided to put a few videos up on Youtube. Let me tell ya, that was a hard thing to do! I was nervous about sharing that part of myself, especially knowing that I’m not exactly a virtuoso. Still, it was invigorating to put myself out there. Sure, they never got any shares or anything, but I didn’t get horrible comments telling me how bad they were either. That’s a win in my book.

 

embrace your song, small step towards happiness, fear, ralph waldo emerson, quote, quote about fear, playing in front of people, guitar

 

However, even with the little bit of confidence that such a leap brought, I couldn’t bring myself to play in front of people in real life.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to visit his parents. A couple friends of ours were there and they got out a guitar. I watched with envy as they played for one another and discussed techniques and influences. Both of them are far more talented than I, and I longed to be included.

After a while, one of them handed me the guitar. With shaking hands, I accepted the instrument and began playing a few songs I knew I couldn’t possibly mess up. That’s when my mother in law said something that shook me to my soul.

“You know, I’ve only ever heard you play 2 or 3 times in the 10 years I’ve known you.”

I looked at her like she’d grown three heads. I’d lived with her for a significant amount of time, surely she’d heard me more than that. She disagreed and pointed out that she’d seen me play more in my videos than she ever had in person.

Of course, I found myself slightly embarrassed at the comment and it got me thinking. Why had I hidden it away for so long? All these years  I had waiting for an appropriate time, when I could have created those situations for myself. I had let fear win and rob me of great memories.

A few weeks later, I found myself sitting on the dock at my in-law’s pond. A guitar was placed in my hands and I fulfilled a small dream of mine as I sat there and played through some of my favorite songs. My mother in law walked by and gave me this proud-mother smile, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

 

brandyn blaze, embrace your song, playing guitar on the dock, small steps towards happiness, journey, growth

I could spend my whole life playing by the water and watching my daughter swim.

 

 

It’s a small step for sure, but it’s a step that will lead me further in my personal journey.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog blathering on about following your heart and being your true self, and yet I was still denying a large part of my soul. While I have always believed that there’s no such thing as bad art, somehow deep down I thought that didn’t apply to me.

Clearly, I have more work to do in order to let go of all of the insecurities that have held me back. Fear does nothing but steal our joy and hold us back from truly living. In order to live authentically, we have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. We have to do things that scare us a little bit and learn to quiet that voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re not ready, that things could go wrong. We have to run headlong towards our goals and embrace where we are at every stage of our development with pride.

So embrace your song, take a small step towards happiness, and stop hiding away!

With that said, I have recorded a new video and put it up on Youtube to share with you all and to mark this moment in my journey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!

 

 

Linked up at: Thinking Out Loud, No Rules Weekend Blog Hop 

Rethinking Your Schedule: Cut Stress and Find Your Path

I’m not sure if I’ve let you in on this before or not, but I love lists. Lists, schedules, file folders…I love to feel like I have everything together.

Lately, I’ve been trying the bullet journal thing, and I have to admit it’s made a huge difference. Keeping all my lists in one place and being able to combine my diary entries and daily planner has been a great move. However, this isn’t really what I want to talk about today. At least, not entirely.

Because of my love of a well-defined routine, I decided to set out my blog schedule for 15 months. The idea was to use the time between books to write a ton of posts and schedule them out, so that I wasn’t trying to juggle both parts of my writing life at once.

This worked well for awhile. At the beginning of the year, I wrote 15 or so posts and scheduled them out. I focused on my next book, and it ran like clockwork. Then I stopped writing posts to add to the queue. Now that my book is ready for release, I decided it was time to get out in front of the blog posts again.  Until I looked at my schedule.

A few of the ideas no longer felt like a good fit, and even more of them seemed too time consuming. I know I’ll get back to the “harder” ones once my brain has made the shift out of “book mode”, but it still highlights a very common struggle in my life: overestimating what I can do.

 

de-stress, get rid of stress, bullet journal, unclutter your mind, overestimate what you can do, relax

 

One of the things my bullet journal forced me to do was shorten my daily to-do lists. I have my progress trackers for long term goals: daily word count, exercise, guitar techniques I’m working on, and so on.  I also have longer lists of various projects I want to tackle and things I must do. This cuts down my daily to-do lists considerably, so that I can focus on two to four things I know need done.

Somehow, I stayed locked into my old blog plan, though, and it seemed to be causing me more grief than necessary.

Today, I was “supposed” to share a short story I’d been working on. Because I’ve been focusing on my impending book release, it obviously didn’t get finished. I still felt that I needed to put something out, so I started this post, hoping I would find something I wanted to say.

And I did.

After thinking about the stress my rigid schedule has caused, I decided to let go of it. Instead, I have a list of possible post ideas that I can pull from. I can still write them in bulk and schedule them out like I have been, but now there’s more room for new ideas. There is also more room to move things around as needed.

The other day, I posted on Facebook that despite the fact that nothing major had happened, I was feeling very blessed. Everything has been humming along rather smoothly lately and I am constantly amazed at how much love fills this house. I can’t help but think that this new shift in my prioritizing has had a big hand in that.

Instead of constantly thinking about all I have to do, I’m focusing on what I can do today. I’m giving myself permission to relax and to let go of the guilt I’ve always felt when I don’t check off every single item on my list. I do what I can and catch up the next day if I need to, which is a big change for me.

 

don't stress, relax, all i can do is all i can do, rethink your schedule

 

I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stress and mental clutter lately, and I have to say, it feels great. I’ve also been trying to focus on using the inevitable stress we all feel to propel me into action, which is tough when you’ve always used it as a reason to avoid something.  Reminding myself that doing something now will cause less stress in the long run has really gone a long way.

And that’s the point I want to get at. Never stop looking for a better way. We weren’t meant to spend our lives stressed out to the max or pushing through things that bring us no joy. Sure, there are times we have to do things we don’t necessarily like (scrubbing toilets, anyone?), but we can always change our perception and focus on the payoff instead. And if there is no payoff? We can change our course.

 

less stress, relax, change your path, quote, thousand wrong roads

 

This journey has been incredibly eye-opening. Each and every day I am working towards building the life I had always dreamed of, and I know each one of you can do the same. The trick is to not get discouraged and keep trying new methods until you land on something that works. Don’t fret over what hasn’t worked, or things that have epically failed, just keep charging forward.

Two years ago, I would have told you my dream was to own my own home, to have a happy family, to write full-time, and have time for my music. Today, all of those things are a reality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some kinks to work out, and the steps towards those goals started many years before that, but we got here. Now it’s time to focus on the details to bring that picture into focus.

I wrote about dreams awhile back and how important it is to have a clear vision of what you want. I still believe that’s true. You need to know exactly where you want to go so that you can create a roadmap. However, sometimes the only way to figure out what you truly want is to start hacking away at the things you don’t want so that it can reveal itself. You also have to be prepared to take the scenic route and get lost a few times along the way.

Have you figured out where you want to go yet? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

It All Starts With A Dream

Every now and then I spend an entire day lost in a daydream. Quite often, I’m dreaming of the future. What kind of life do I want? What kind of person do I want to be?

I’ve long studied the Law of Attraction, which states that in order to achieve your dreams you must visualize them in the present tense. You must feel in your mind that they are already a reality so that your mind opens up to new pathways to your goal.

imagination is everything albert einstein law of attraction make dreams a reality charity

My dreams are fairly simple. I just want my family to never worry about how to pay our bills or put food on the table, and maybe go on a vacation every now and then.

I dream of buying a secluded piece of land and building an earth bag home. Our power will be solar. A good portion of our water will come from the sky. Our pool will be self-sustaining. We’ll grow our own food.

I dream of owning a record shop with a snack bar, where all the local kids come and hang out. I can be an awesome mentor for kids who otherwise lack parental direction. I’d encourage the youth to create their own clubs and support groups and use the space to better themselves.

I dream of owning a bar and grill that serves great food and provides a venue for local bands, comedians, and other performers to showcase their art.

I dream of running a charity that works to foster a sense of community and give others the resources and information to turn their lives around. We would offer various classes and seminars, which would be “paid” for via donations or volunteer hours. You could even volunteer to teach a class! We would provide clothing, food, and other items to those in need, and offer  cash assistance for things like rent, bills, or other necessities. We would help connect people to other services if their needs are beyond our scope.There would be counselors and life coaches available to help people establish a strategy to break the cycle of poverty. Maybe we’d even have a shelter for those in direct need of a safe haven.

Of course, I’ve dreamed about what it would be like to become famous for my writing or my music or what have you. I’ve fantasized about what it would be like to suddenly have large sums of cash. What would I do if I had so much money that I never had to think twice about it for the rest of my life?

I’ve thought about it extensively, and quite honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would ever need so much money. You need a roof over your head and food in your belly. Damn near everything else is just frivolous.

take what you need, use all you take, give what you can. It all starts with a dream

I would still build my sustainable family farm. Most of my purchases would still be second hand. I would set aside a small amount for my child(ren) to go to school, but I would still expect them to contribute to the funds as well. I’d set aside a modest emergency fund and a retirement fund. Some of my money would be given to friends and family to help them get ahead. I’d start my businesses and make sure my employees were paid enough to support themselves and their families. I would start the charity mentioned above.

The rest?

It would go into helping people who are homeless or in direct threat of homelessness. I would work on an individual basis and find out what they need to create a stable life. Perhaps that would mean paying for rehab or education (or both). It could mean helping them find a job, or paying for medical bills. Maybe it would mean paying a year of rent in advance and setting them up a stipend to take care of bills and food until they are back on their feet.

I would do what I could with my funds to help others. If I had the fame to go with it, I would use my position to prove to others that you can still live well on a lesser amount of money while directly contributing to the betterment of society.

Of course, helping others doesn’t have to wait until you have obscene amounts of cash. Anything you can give of yourself is a step in the right direction.

This year one of my goals is to step up my game and give more. I’ve always donated clothes and other items to local charities, and helped those around me when I can. Still,  I would like to do more.

That is my dream. To live simply, and do what I can to ensure others can simply live.

What’s your dream? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

 

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