BUSY STRESS OR PLEASANTLY FULL – HOW IS YOUR LIFE?

BUSY  STRESS OR PLEASANTLY FULL – HOW IS YOUR LIFE?

I see many clients who report 10 to 12 hour workdays suffering either: stress, anxiety, depression or a breakdown in personal relationships but not wanting to reduce the corporate work commitments. They say they are happy working these hours, as they feel fulfilled. They are actually addicted to doing and not being, well their mind is so addicted.

When they return from a long holiday they experience how their lives have been hijacked by a corporate work ethic. After a few weeks back at work they are again addicted – or their brain is. Are you leading a pleasantly full life or a busy life? Is it time to be mindful or thoughtful about how you are living your life? It is an important question to ask don’t you think?

Peer pressure, public status, wanting glamorous life goods and the push to get as much money as possible are some of the drivers for people developing exhausting busy lives. What is a pleasantly full life is another question and is it naturally different for everyone? I think it is about increasing the connection with the real world – the natural environment and our relationships with family, work colleagues, our communities and friends.

How many internal thoughts have you had about observing people totally disconnected from the real world? The prime example is watching people texting while walking or driving. This embodies this disconnect, especially when witnessed at pedestrian crossings.

It is time to become thoughtful about spending more time with family, friends, taking walks in the country air, sitting outside watching life, cooking slowly, wearing cosy socks, comfortable clothes and reading a good book on the couch with the dog at our feet. Does this seem more nurturing to you and relaxing into life’s joys?

Our real lives of being rather than doing are under ever increasing threat. The fascination with the latest technology, instant entertainment satisfaction, wanting instant online sex, and experiencing a constant feeling of needing to do things faster robs us of a having a thoughtful pleasant life. Mindfulness is being thoughtful about what your true self wants as a life.

To make life changes we first need to acknowledge there is a problem, as we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Can you put technology down, leave your phone at home, stop texting so much, reduce your work hours, date rather than get casual instant sex and generally develop a plan for a new life of being over constant doing.

Having a simpler life might mean moving to a cheaper house, working less hours, doing creative things rather than only financial pursuits and generally slowing it all down and at the same time having a full life of non work activities.

My partner recently decided to take a year off from the corporate world and is experiencing life anew. But his friends insist he get back into the work force. Can you think of reasons why they pressure him to do so? I find the reasons for this peer pressure very interesting!

So maybe have a good think now on what you are doing with your life. Mindfulness will get you there because now you are thoughtful rather than repeating unconscious busy pursuits.

 

 

 

 

INTERNALISING HURT WILL MAKE YOU MENTAL

INTERNALISING HURT WILL MAKE YOU MENTAL

We are all guilty of it; internalizing hurts with problems in close relationships. Our mind seems happy to churn things over, day and night, inventing scenarios and stories on who is right or wrong. Exhausting stuff!

Let’s say you have been criticized or put down by someone and you feel very hurt and misunderstood. The resulting emotions are the kindle to get the fire raging in our minds. The problem is, this internal mind churning causes a huge mental imbalance and the longer we engage in churning, the greater the chance of some permanent mental damage.

Neuroscience is the study of how our brain works and the way it works makes us behave in a certain way. There is a part of the brain called the Amygdala that reacts to our emotions and when it gets all fired up the Pre-frontal Cortex, which governs our ability to reason, get shut down a lot. And when this happens we are become unbalanced – we are now crazy mind stuff. Spooky!

So the trick is first to be aware that internalizing upsetting issues is not healthy if we let it go on and on. This awareness should help you have some discipline over your churning mind. Of course the mind will keep trying to get you to create new stories of fairness time and time again. Just tell it to shut the fuck up.

Now what can help greatly is you talk to someone about the whole matter because now you are externalizing it rather than keeping it as you own internal story telling. The more you discuss it the less power it will have over you and slowly the hurt will be diluted as other things take more prominence in your life.

The next best thing is to consider writing it all down in a story. This is also externalizing it, this time onto paper. Once it is written down it becomes history and you can now see it unfolded on the outside of your mind. Maybe burn it.

The human brain is good at internalizing problems in the outside world. We would not have built bridges, developed the motorcar or got to the moon without trying to resolve problems in the real world. But internalizing problems in our human relationships long term will lead only to mental health health issues. What they said, what she said and then what they did, is really useless by hanging onto hurts long term. Let it go!

When an upsetting relationship matter happens, work out why you have these strong feelings and emotions, then consider what you are going to do with these emotions. Maybe let them sit for a while and then discuss the issue with the other party, or talk with friends for support and then write it all down. In doing so you are now externalizing the hurts, preventing them destabilizing you needlessly. Take care.

REDUCING ANXIETY WITH ACCEPTANCE

Anxiety is a feeling that is common to us all and in fact we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning without feeling compelled to do something with the day ahead. But what happens if your anxiety is really high about everything all the time? Well the best thing to do it accept it and stop struggling with it. If you struggle with thoughts of anxiety you are in the loop of being anxious about your anxiety. But if you simply accept your feelings of anxiety, even though uncomfortable, you no longer enter the anxious struggle world.

I wonder if you can understand the concept that you are not your mind? In your own internal world your mind uses the language of words, images and thoughts to project onto a screen what you are experiencing. Humans can however, observe their own thoughts so if you are experiencing anxiety you can actually step back and see your mind is projecting thoughts of anxiety. The trick is not to struggle with these thoughts as if you do you are fighting anxiety thoughts.

Imagine falling into quicksand. If you laid flat you would float and stay alive. Quicksand only kills you when you struggle in it and in doing so you drown yourself. Anxiety is the same, if you observe, recognize and accept the feelings and do not struggle the anxiety feelings will lessen.

It does not matter what uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing whether it be loneliness, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or whatever, rather than struggling with these feelings accept them. Maybe laugh at these projected thoughts onto your mind screen or make the words that pop up into bright colours with a bouncing ball or make up a song about these thoughts. Doing this allows you the control to observe and defuse your thoughts as just thoughts that will pass.

So here is a trick. Imagine a struggle switch at the back of your mind. Right now it is off. You all of a sudden have feelings on anxiety say about a meeting where you have to present material. Okay you accept these feelings of anxiety. You recognize where in your body you feel these translated feelings. You see the words that pop up in your mind and make them a colour but you don’t switch the struggle switch on which is a secondary mind system.

Your primary mind system produced anxiety thoughts and feelings and you accept these but you do not allow your mind to fall into a secondary system of struggle. Once you enter the struggle world you are now struggling with the anxiety, which means being anxious about the anxiety and this is not a good place to be. How am I going here? Have I lost you?

The important thing to take away is that you are not your mind. You can observe your mind as a series of language expressions of thoughts, images, ideas that come and go to be projected onto a screen for you to observe. Don’t fight the quicksand, lie flat and float and you will survive although it is uncomfortable.

 

Anxiety and Mind Churning

We all come across people that really get to us over what they said or did. We also tell ourselves negative stories about ourselves during the day. We could have done this or that! There are times when something happened that we can not understand why it occurred. And what do we do, we churn. Over and over we churn over the events, we take mental positions, work out what we should have said or done. We then set ourselves up to become outraged, angry, bitter and really upset. What follows next is negative behaviour like depression or anxiety.

Churning is just our minds making up stories and presenting negative emotional responses. Churning never ever achieves anything positive so what can you do to stop this mindful obsession? Easy, tell your mind to shut up. You see you are not your mind. As humans you can observe your mind thinking and actually decide what it can think about. There is a gap between you and your mind. That gap allows you to say to your mind – Shut Up.

Training your mind to shut up takes practice but by addressing any useless churning you will become stronger mentally in a very short time. Self talk to tackle churning allows you to get above the upsetting stories your mind is very content to replay continuously, if you allow it to have its way.

There is a difference between consideration and churning. When your mind processes ideas and events it is seeking solutions to move towards insight. Insight is when you feed your brain information about an issue and the brain pops up a solution you feel will work. Mindful consideration is productive but churning never is.

Why not try and stop the churning today. Practice makes perfect. First decide if the stories your mind is playing are either consideration or churning. If it is churning tell your mind to stop. To help this along sing a nursery rhyme like “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Doing this is a humorous and a positive step to stop the churning. Maybe make up a song about what your mind is churning about.

You are right they should not have said or done that, we do tell ourselves negative stories and certain events should never have happened but life is always moving forward and trapping ourselves in the past does us no favours.

You won’t have to wait long for a negative story to pop up so be ready to tell your mind to just shut up. Maybe even use a swear word if that helps. Take care.

P.S. If you want 3 free lessons to tackle anxiety or depression, that you can do online, send me an email and I will send you the link to the St Vincent’s Anxiety Clinic.