The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘worry’

30 Things to do to Yourself

The other day I came across an article that listed 30 things that people needed to stop doing to themselves in order to feel happy and fulfilled. It proclaimed, “when you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you”. You can see the full article here if you’re interested.

The thing is, the language used in this post is worded in the negative. Don’t do this, don’t do that. When I read things phrased in this way I often end up wondering what I CAN do if not the things listed. The brain cannot tell the difference between them. If I told you to NOT, under any circumstances, think about a red car, I’m willing to bet that the first thing that comes to mind is a red car.

So, when we tell ourselves NOT to do something, our brains literally block out the “NOT”. Have you ever tried to tell a child not to run on wet concrete? I bet they run faster! Have you tried telling a child not to eat the chocolate bar in the fridge? I bed the next time you walk by, the chocolate bar will have disappeared and you can see smears across his or her mouth. If you want a child to follow your instructions, you need to tell him/her what TO do, rather than what NOT to do. Walk along the concrete. Eat the grapes (and put the chocolate bar out of sight).

So, I decided to rewrite it. And rephrase it. Let me know what you think:

  1. Spend time with happy people who support you – spending time with people who drain you is tiring! Find some silent presencepeople will stand by you when you’re at your worst.
  2. Face your problems – Yes, it’s hard work. Every person on the planet finds it challenging to face difficult situations. We are built to flounder. To feel emotions such as sadness or hurt. To stumble. Learning and adapting helps mold us into the person we are meant to be.
  3. Be truthful with yourself – it really does help you make those adjustments and to step up when you face difficulties.
  4. Put your own needs first – you are special too, and you deserve to be taken care of. Allow yourself to follow your passion and do something that matters to you.
  5. Be your true self – allow yourself to be who you really are and you will naturally attract the right people who love you.
  6. Allow yourself to move forward and take new opportunities.
  7. Make friends with failure – you learn so much more from getting things wrong than getting them right. Every success has a series of failures behind it. Every time you fail, you get closer to success.
  8. Let go of past mistakes – mistakes help us find the things and the people who are right for us. Every error teaches you something and prepares you for the things that are right for you. Right here, right now, you have the power to shape your future.
  9. Allow happiness to find you – the things that satisfy us are totally free. Take note of the little things and allow them to fill your heart with joy.
  10. Look for happiness within yourself – looking to others for your happiness is fraught with danger and opens you up to being controlled by the other person’s moods. Create your own stability and own your own power for happiness. It starts with what is on the inside.
  11. Be prepared to go after what you want – you can’t make it to your goal unless you take the first step. Take some risks. Make decisions and take decisive action on what you want.
  12. Allow yourself to grab opportunities outside your comfort zone – it’s common to feel uncomfortable when
    found on art.com

    found on art.com

    opportunities present themselves. You may not feel ready, but you don’t have to be. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

  13. Fall in love for the right reasons – there is no need to rush. Allow it to happen when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Be open to new relationships – even when old ones didn’t work. There is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some are to teach you what you don’t need in your life.
  15. Run your own race – when you compete with others you do yourself a disservice. Competing takes you away from being your true self.
  16. Count your blessings – you always have something that is worth feeling blessed for. Why would you bother keeping track of someone else’s blessings when you have your own?
  17. Be prepared to get back up when you fall down – life is full of challenges and falling down is inevitable. When you reflect back on those moments you’ll often find they led you to a better place or situation.
  18. Let go of grudges – allow love to fill your heart and let the hate go. When you hold onto grudges you end up hurting yourself more than the person it’s directed toward.
  19. Raise your standards – if you keep your standards above those of the people around you, your heart will always be full.
  20. Give yourself permission to make your own decisions – if you listen to your heart you will always know what to do. There is no need to justify or explain yourself to others.
  21. restTake a break – especially when you feel like you don’t have time for one. The perfect time to take some breaths is when you feel the most stressed.
  22. Find the beauty in the small moments – the best parts of your days will be the small moments. Enjoy them.
  23. Enjoy the imperfections – nothing is ever perfect. It doesn’t exist.
  24. Embrace challenges – some things are not easy. Especially the things that mean the most to you. Embrace the challenge and work for what you want.
  25. Allow yourself to cry – it’s ok to fall apart sometimes, you don’t have to suck it up all the time. You don’t need to have things going well all the time. Crying is cathartic and healing. It gets rid of toxins in your system and cleanses your emotions.
  26. Take responsibility for your life – and your decisions. When you blame others you allow them to control you. Own your power by owning your decisions and actions.
  27. Choose what you do wisely – trying to be everything to everyone will very quickly drain you of your energy and burn you out. Make your choices based on the things that are most important to you.
  28. Let go of your worries – at least some of them. Ask yourself if this situation will matter in one year. What about in three years? Or five? If the answer is no, let it go.
  29. Focus on what you want to happen – rather than on what you don’t want to happen. By doing this you train your brain to look for the opportunities and the blessings.
  30. Be grateful – find 5 things each day that you are grateful for. You’ll soon find yourself inundated with the beautiful blessings in life rather than the missing links.

gratitude breathe it in

Advertisements

Who cares for the carers?

People with mental illness usually have a support team around them. Psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers, general practitioners. People in mental health organisations such as the Richmond Fellowship (this link is QLD but you can google other states). People handing out medications and people providing emotional support. For the most part, these people do fabulous work in paving the way to wellness.

mental health stigma

But there is a whole other population that often gets overlooked. The family and friends. Husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. The carers. They are often excluded from treatment due to “confidentiality”. How do carers help monitor medications if they don’t have accurate information about which prescriptions to fill or how many tablets are needed? How do they help regulate moods if they aren’t up to speed on which strategies have been used in therapy? And that also means they are unable to provide feedback to give the professional team a full picture of what is happening for their loved one. While I can’t speak for all carers, I know that the ones I have spoken to genuinely want to help support the road to wellness. And they want to respect personal space and privacy.

During periods of illness, carers are often confronted with some pretty tough stuff. Major mood swings. Irrational demands. Thought processes that aren’t based in reality. An inability to reason. Violence; to self and others. Hospital visits. Self-harm. Suicide attempts. Manipulation. Sometimes even homicidal tendencies. And they are often in the middle of the fray, caught up in the maelstrom of chaos.

carer head chaos

Chaos

Watching the people they love most in the world go through these experiences is heartbreaking. You watch your spouse with depression stay in bed day after day, week after week. You know that they are in pain and you try everything you know to help them. Encouragement, tough love, praise, cajoling, bringing friends in. You try talking to the doctors but you don’t get anywhere because they can’t talk back. You take over the running of the household, managing the children, cooking, cleaning. And you listen to your husband or wife talk about their inner pain and how much better off you and the children would be without him or her in it. You feel helpless and scared. What if they kill themselves? You wonder what else you can do to help. You don’t always understand why they can’t get themselves out of bed and rejoin the family. You feel lonely because the partner you knew isn’t there anymore. You feel alone because you don’t have your best friend to bounce things off. And you feel hopeless and helpless because the professional team won’t talk to you and tell you what you can do to help. Not to mention feeling guilty, fearful, resentful (of the illness), and a whole host of other emotions.

If you are a carer and can relate to this, please understand. You are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands, or even millions of people with mental illness, and each of them very likely has a group of family and friends around them, feeling exactly the same way you do. That is a lot of people feeling like you.

Exhausted. Stressed. Alone. Afraid. Confused. Helpless. Guilty. Isolated.

That is a lot of stress to deal with. And when you feel it for long periods of time, it is really important that you take care of yourself. Some very simple strategies can make a big difference in how you well you bounce back from the stresses and ultimately in the quality of your life.

When you’re looking at specific strategies there is one thing to keep in mind. Given the amount of stress most carers experience, sometimes thinking about doing extra can be overwhelming. So keep things really simple and you’ll be able to incorporate some of them into your normal routine. Try these:thought training

  • Take 3-5 long, slow deep breaths. Try to focus on slowing your breaths down and smoothing them out. This will get some oxygen into your brain and help you think more clearly.
  • Pamper yourself. Take a bath, paint your nails, get a massage. This helps you relax your muscles and allows those stress hormones to dissipate.
  • Surround yourself with nature. Visit a garden, sit under a tree, get your hands dirty with soil. This will help ground you and release the stress.
  • Slow your brain down. Meditate, do yoga, or simply sit on your own for a while and breathe.
  • Do something you absolutely love.
  • Laugh.
  • Connect with other people. Often speaking with other carers can help you realise you aren’t in this on your own and give you a chance to pick some brains about strategies that others have used successfully.
  • Talk to someone. Sometimes seeing a professional can help you sort out the jumble in your head and give you some direction.

carer serenity scene

Australia has a network of carers organisations in each state that provide support for carers. They offer a variety of services, including access to support groups, workshops and counselling. They can also link you in with other services you may need. You can find details on each state’s organisation here, or call 1800 242 636 from anywhere in Australia. Some other countries also have carers organisations, including the UK and USA. Other support organisations in Australia include ARAFMI and COPMI (for the kids).

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Those behavioural quirks that to most people seem weird. Perhaps it’s that the pegs need to be OCD alphabeticalcolour coded when you hang the washing on the line. Or maybe it’s that you need to line up your pens in a certain order. Or even the toilet roll being in the “over” position.

To most people these habits are simply that; habits. Habits that we chuckle at affectionately.

For some people these habits, and many more like them, can be a problem. Hand washing, cleaning, locking doors, sorting/hanging clothes, quoting specific sayings (whether aloud or silently), collecting things, counting floor tiles or cracks in the footpath, going in and out of doorways. All of these, and more, have been noted as common in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

OCD is an anxiety disorder. The person with OCD will experience severe anxiety. They will become obsessed with specific thoughts (e.g., my house will burn down) and to relieve the anxiety the thoughts produce, will carry out certain compulsions (behaviours), such as checking and re-checking that they have turned off the stove and any other appliance that may catch alight. So, the person will become obsessed with the idea of their house burning down, anxious about the possibility and feel the compulsion to check and re-check the stove and other appliances to prevent it.

One of the main characteristics of OCD is that the person with the disorder will recognise that their obsessions and compulsions are irrational. They are aimed at reducing the anxiety or preventing some dreaded event (e.g., house burning down). The thoughts or habits must interfere with daily life and must last for long periods of time (an hour or more per day).

OCD cycle

How do you think you’d feel if you were plagued with thoughts that your baby girl is at risk if you don’t check and re-check that you’ve locked the front door? You check it at least 50 times before you can relax. And then you start thinking about all the other dangers she could get into. Maybe it’s combing the sandpit repeatedly to make sure there is nothing that could cut her fragile skin. Or maybe it’s the germs she could pick up if she crawled around on the floor, so you wash and re-wash everything in sight before you let her down to play. And then you follow her around so she doesn’t pick anything up to suck on it.

Can you imagine it?

OCD battle

You know that the thoughts are silly and not based in reality. And yet you can’t seem to control it. How would you feel? Hopefully some of the recent posts we have shared from a few of our readers will give you an inkling. If you experience similar obsessions or compulsions that interfere with your life, please consider seeking professional support from a psychologist or counsellor. Tomorrow we will share the experiences of someone who lives with OCD. In the meantime, if you would like more, technical information please try these sites. They cover definitions, symptoms and common treatments.

http://psychcentral.com/disorders/ocd/

http://eqip.psychology.org.au/conditions/OCD/

A day in the life of an Anxiety Sufferer

I would like to introduce you all to Cassie. She has had a recent diagnosis of Anxiety and has kindly offered to share a day in her life. I wonder whether you can relate to her worries during the day? Cassie has her own blog where she shares more about her life. The link is below her post. Please pop over for a visit.

————————————————————

Anxiety sucks.

Both in the sense that it’s a crappy situation and also in that it sucks the life out of you.

Spending a day being hyper vigilant for any “attack” to you, your family or even just your lifestyle can leave you exhausted. To have your tummy churning with worry all day can leave you emotionally and even physically wrung out.

I was recently diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and as part of my therapy with a psychologist I have been recording my thoughts and feelings. This helps me to identify just what I’m thinking, what I’m worrying about and also helps me to be more awake and tackle the thoughts head on.

Today I’m sharing some of those thoughts with you, to give you an idea what it’s like to spend a day in my brain.

9am – Eldest daughter, Lily (3), swimming lesson

Swimming lesson has been moved to a different pool due to technical problems at our pool. It is also with a different teacher. Lily doesn’t deal with change at all. I spend the drive to the pool in a complete state of anxiety.

“Will she scream? Will she go in at all? Should we really be forcing her to do this? She loves it when all is fine. It will benefit her so much in the future. But are we bad parents for making her do this?”

Lily screams through the whole lesson and refuses to do anything, even when Daddy gets in the pool with her. I feel like everyone is looking at us and judging us, even though there are other children reacting the same way.

“They must think we’re horrible people. Is this going to scar Lily?”

9.30am – Playing in pool after lesson

Lily is perfectly fine now. My husband, Mr Monkey, takes our youngest daughter, Chloe (8mo), in to the toddler pool too. I spend the whole time watching Chloe and fighting the urge to jump up each time it looks like she’ll fall in the water or put her head under.

“Need to trust Mr Monkey to look after them. But what if he’s distracted? She is crawling everywhere, she might try to crawl away and slip and go under the water. I won’t be able to get to her quickly enough. She might start to drown. There are no lifeguards close by. I’ll have to try to do mouth to mouth. I don’t know what to do properly. Maybe Mr. Monkey could. What if we can’t revive her?”

10.30am – Driving home

Cars keep coming close and I grab the armrest every time. I’m hyper vigilant – watching for any danger. Realise when I get home that my hands are hurting from grabbing things so tightly. Chest feels tight and sore from the anxiety. Feel so, so tired.

12 noon – Home, preparing lunch

I notice that my throat has begun to hurt.

“It’s probably just a bad cold. But I can’t get sick, there’s so much to do. The house is a mess and I need to try and get it back to order. I’m such a bad mum/housekeeper for letting it get so far. Mr. Monkey goes back to work tomorrow, it’ll just be the girls and me. I can’t cope. My throat is still hurting, what if it’s tonsillitis? I’ve never had it before but this doesn’t seem like a normal sore throat. I definitely can’t cope if I’m that sick!”

(It turns out to be tonsillitis. I go to the doctor a few days later and he is astonished that I have lasted so long. My anxiety also causes me to doubt when I am really sick and when it’s just me being over-anxious, meaning I don’t get help when I probably really should. I’m put on strong antibiotics and laid up for a few days.)

1.30pm – a plane goes overhead (we live under the flight path).

“That plane seems to be really low. The engines sound so loud! Maybe it will crash! What would happen to us? If it crashed in to the back of the house we may be able to get out the front. But if it crashed when I was upstairs I’d be gone. What if it caught on fire? We wouldn’t have a chance. Maybe we could get out; we’d have to call the fire brigade. Maybe our neighbours would come to help. What if the girls survived and we didn’t? I can’t bear to think of them living without their parents. What if the girls didn’t survive? I don’t think I could go on without them. Or if Mr. Monkey died, I don’t know if I could cope.”

5pm – Watching TV, doing a few things on the laptop

“I’ve barely done any housework today. I should be doing more. I need to get back in to a routine. I’m not going to be able to cope in the future when our life gets harder and the girls go to school. I’m being a terrible role model for our children. Our house is always going to be a mess.”

8.30pm – Bedtime routine with Lily

Lily is fighting going to sleep. She wants to sit up or sleep in our bed.
“Is she worried about something? Is she still upset from this morning? She’s not getting enough sleep; maybe we should get her to bed earlier. Am I doing something wrong with her? Should I be spending more time with her? Should I be leaving her to fall asleep by herself? Or will it make her more upset if I leave before she falls asleep?”

Midnight – in bed, reading

Everyone else is asleep. I hear a noise downstairs.

“Is that someone breaking in? They could be coming in the back door. It sounded like someone coming up the stairs? Is it in invader? What will they do to us? What can I do? I can’t yell out. I have nothing to use to protect us. Should I call 000? It’s probably nothing and then I’ll look stupid.”

After lying still for a few minutes, straining for any sound, I realise it was only the cat shifting on the stairs.

————————————————————–

Cassie blogs at The Flying Drunken Monkey, about her daily struggle against housework and how she is working to make life easier for her family. She’s the wife to a hardworking (and often not home) head chef, Mr Monkey, mother to two beautiful girls, Lily and Chloe and an eater of a lot of chocolate.

My Journey with Anxiety

As promised, here is Sam’s journey with anxiety. She has one cute cat that clearly loves cleaning!

Thanks neanderthal man!

Thanks Neanderthal man!

Well thank you Neanderthal man, for the very unhelpful ‘fight-or-flight’ response that triggers my anxiety constantly!  The split-second response you developed to help you either fight or flee from some man-eating predator, by pumping your body full of adrenalin, is often not a very helpful  response to the challenges of modern life (although if a sabre-tooth tiger sneaks up on me, I’ll probably be very grateful for it!).

My earliest memory of feeling anxiety is when I was about three and not wanting to be separated from my mum.  My mum was my nurturer, she kept me alive and safe.  Did I feel okay about being dropped off at kindy or with dodgy relatives … umm … NO!!  Cue separation anxiety!!

As a child I began to develop the traits of perfectionism … I tried very hard to do my best and make people happy.  Conflict within my family made me very nervous … my heart would race, whilst my mind searched for a solution as to what I should do to ‘fix’ things.  Often I would feel so ill-equipped and overwhelmed I did and said nothing.

In primary school, as we lined up to take our turn at high jump, I began to seriously freak out, based on the fact my anxiety constantly reminded me that I was hopeless at most things, especially sport and that everyone would probably laugh at me.  “I can’t do this!!”  I thought.  I asked to go to the toilet, where I stayed for a good 10 minutes hatching a plan.  I went back to the teacher and told her that I’d just been sick.  The school called my mum who came and picked me up.  Crisis averted!  Anxiety: one, conquering my fears: zero

what makes you worryIn high school, I worried excessively.  I worried about how I looked, how I walked, how I dressed, how I did academically, what people thought of me.  By the end of high school I had developed a secret eating disorder that I told no one about.  The relationship between my anxiety and self-esteem, my mind and body, my desire for perfection and my overwhelming fear of stepping outside my comfort zone was rock-solid.  My anxiety led me to give away my power to those who seemed more self-assured and this often left me vulnerable to being hurt or treated badly.

In my twenties I suffered several, debilitating panic attacks as well as a few unique phobias (please do not mention the word ‘button’ to me, it makes me feel sick and I had trouble just typing it!!).  I put myself under an enormous amount of pressure and was extremely judgemental of myself: how I looked, how I performed at school, work, university.  I can add in social phobia too – not a big fan of parties and meeting new people.  Of course I married someone who is extremely social and extroverted, I think deep down I knew he would be someone who could gently challenge me out of my comfort zone.

In my thirties I began to learn more about the link between mental and physical health.  I saw counsellors and indeed trained as a counsellor, as I was very motivated to help other people.  It turns out there are some underlying medical reasons that contribute to my anxious state, so taking appropriate supplements and undergoing regular medical assessment is one way of managing my anxiety.

worry box

Place your worries in here

Worry stones. They will hold all your worries for you.

These worry stones will hold all your worries for you.

Just as important are the emotional and psychological strategies I use.  I have learnt from experience how to identify my increasing anxiety.  I experience tightness in my chest, start feeling a bit hyper and confused and my mind starts racing with problems, solutions and a lot of negative self-talk.  In these moments I have learned that I can calm myself down by:

  1. Recognising that my anxiety is starting to increase
  2. Taking a time out to focus on what I need right now in the present moment
  3. Slowing down my breathing (pretend I am deeply inhaling the scent of a flower and then blowing out a candle on a birthday cake, repeat this at least 3 times)
  4. Analysing my thinking & challenging my irrational thoughts:  how likely is it really that the plane will crash or my pants will fall down mid speech?

I also regularly practise gratitude.  I have a very loving family and a roof over my head.  My health is quite good.  Being grateful for what I have helps me feel calmer and less critical of myself.  Anxiety is sometimes seen as the difference between who you are and who you think you should be.  I am just me and I am very lucky to be here.  All of us are perfectly imperfect and we need to take back our power by acknowledging that we have just as much right to be here and be happy as the next person.

I realise now that anxiety is a normal part of being human.  That it is often driven by the human desire for survival which is, in other words, the fear of dying, especially before one has led a long, rich and fulfilling life.  It is the fear of pain and of those who you love suffering in any way.  However, fearing mortality doesn’t keep us alive any longer; it merely prevents us from fully enjoying life while we are here.

So I accept and appreciate my anxiety for helping me to be aware and alert and to stay safe, for warning me when there might be a sabre-tooth tiger lurking outside the cave.  But I am also thankful that with time I have learnt to take a breath and not jump to conclusions and that when I start panicking I can pause before choosing how to react.  Take some calming breaths and assess the situation – that sabre-tooth tiger shadow might be cast by a little kitten that just needs a cuddle.

Sams cat

Cleanliness loving cat or lonely saber-toothed tiger?

Bio

My name is Sam and I am a 39-year-old mum of two and a counsellor.  I support carers who care for a loved one with a mental illness or developmental disorder.  I have a special interest in supporting parents and carers of children with autism and Aspergers.  I am also experienced in counselling and supporting clients who have suffered sexual assault, complex trauma, PTSD, grief, depression and anxiety.

The “battlefield” in your head

I’ve been thinking about this post for a little while now and what it needs to include. I have had a couple of people ask me for some tips on how to combat the battle they have in their heads about what they put in their mouths.

High fat, high sugar, high carb, versus low-fat, no sugar, whole foods.

Junk food versus healthy food.

Bad foods versus good foods.

Bad versus good.

This is a battle that I am more than familiar with myself. My weight has been “battle worthy” my entire life, and my mind the “battlefield”.

I believe that pretty much every diet program around promotes eating healthy foods and avoiding the unhealthy ones. Makes sense, right? But what constitutes healthy versus unhealthy? This is up for debate and it has certainly been a contentious one. The promotion of the diet programs and the huge amounts of media coverage seem to deliberately aim to impact our emotions. A lot of them would have us believe that the only way for us to live happily is for us to follow their program, whichever one that happens to be. We get told that the only way for us to control ourselves is to follow their program. In other words, to purchase their product. It is a selling tool.

This post is not intended to debate the effectiveness of such programs. Rather, it is to point out that in trying to convince you to purchase their product, they need to have you believe that you are currently doing the wrong thing. That by eating the foods you currently eat, you are making the wrong choices. And then by definition, purchasing their program will mean you can make the right choices.

Right versus wrong.

The thing is, when we start following the programs and we receive the message that we are making good choices by eating healthy foods, we set up a neural network in our heads (see previous post on this here) that is triggered every time we make a “bad” choice by eating chocolate or pastry or lollies (or whatever). And so begins a cycle of beating ourselves up and feeling guilty for each and every choice. The more we try to control it, the worse we feel. We end up feeling inadequate and unworthy, even for minor deviations from the plan.

There are those people who would suggest that the ideas associated with this way of thinking have become so ingrained in our society that even the idea of making a choice off the chosen program will have us believing we are inadequate. Really? An idea?? Since when have we been condemned for having a thought run through our heads? But isn’t that what many of us do?

If this sounds just a tad extreme to you, that’s because it is.learning new way to think

We start by feeling guilty for having a chocolate bar. We feel horrible about ourselves and start thinking that we have blown the diet so we may as well just give up. This leads to 2 large packets of potato chips. We feel guilty some more, believe we are completely useless, so we stop exercising, call ourselves all kinds of disgusting names and then reach for more food because it hurts so much!

Sound familiar?

You’re probably fighting a few things here. Firstly, you have a physiological addiction to all the foods you’ve been ingesting. The sugar, simple carbs, artificial sweeteners, salt. Our bodies go through withdrawal symptoms when we try to stop that cycle and it sends our brains into overdrive with cravings in an attempt to get “fed”. I am not an expert on this stuff and don’t profess to be, so I would suggest that if you want  more information on it do some research for yourself.

Secondly, as outlined in the previous post on firing and wiring neurons, you’ve got firmly entrenched neural pathways at play. It’s difficult to change these. Again, I am not an expert, so feel free to do some independent research, beginning with the books I have suggested in my previous post.

Thirdly, you’re fighting cognitive patterns. These are essentially a neural pathway your brain has created for the way you think. You eat the food and your brain automatically takes your thoughts to “I’m useless/worthless/hopeless because I can’t control myself”. It is a well-practiced pathway and I am sure you are used to its experience. It creates more feelings of inadequacy and suddenly you’re in the never-ending cycle you’re so used to.

So, what do you do about it?

My first suggestion is to think about things a little differently. So much of our energy goes into “good” versus “bad”. Healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables are in the “good” category, while chocolate and chips are in the “bad”. While it is human nature to categorise things, do we really need to do this for our foods? How is it helpful for us, when we go from “I ate some bad food and therefore I must be a bad person”? Does that way of thinking support us in achieving a happy, balanced life? Does it support you?

Why can’t we simply have one category: FOOD?

Or could we choose to have often foods and sometimes foods, the way they teach kids in schools? Or maybe use the traffic light system. Red light foods, orange light foods and green light foods?

Whichever categories we choose, they are just that. CATEGORIES.

Without the emotion attached.  You eat a chocolate bar. FULL STOP.  You eat some fried fish. FULL STOP. You eat a fried mars bar. FULL STOP.

So what? One chocolate bar or fish fillet or mars bar (or whatever) does not dictate how you live your life. One chocolate bar, fish fillet or mars bar does not dictate your happiness. One chocolate bar, fish fillet or mars bar does not dictate your worth. One chocolate bar, fish fillet or mars bar does not dictate what you put in your mouth for the rest of your life.

One chocolate bar, fish fillet or mars bar (or whatever), MAY influence the number on the scale you see when you step on it, but since that number is simply a reflection of your relationship with gravity (full stop) and could never EVER tell me about the amazingly wonderful person on top of the scales, why would you allow it to influence the way you feel about yourself?scale and worth

Instead, try thinking of them simply as choices. Sure you may choose the chocolate or fried fish. And it may even result in you moving a little further away from your goal number on the scales. The next choice you make to put something in your mouth could be a choice that may move you closer to that number.  And providing we are making more choices to move us closer than we make to move further away, we are overall moving closer. Correct?

One teeny tiny choice at a time, we can choose to end the battle and ultimately win the war (which, in my opinion, needs to be more about our internal happiness and is therefore more related to our self-talk rather than the number on the scale). Remember this. That number will never be able to tell you how incredible you are as a human being. And the simple fact that you are living and breathing means that you are worthy of that happiness. You are amazing, right here, right now.

let yourself be amazing

Whenever you catch yourself in the pattern of thoughts you are so used to, chances are you aren’t really aware of the things going on around you in your immediate environment. Does it feel like you’re kind of off with the fairies? It can be useful to practice some mindfulness activities. Engage your senses. Sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste. Mindfulness is about bringing your attention into the here and now. So to bring your mind back into the moment, try focusing on the things around you. If you are doing the dishes, pay attention to the feel of the water on your hands, or the cloth between your fingers. If you’re walking, note the smell of the flowers, the feel of the sun/wind/rain on your face. When you’re eating, slow down and really taste your food. Smell it. Feel the textures. Drink in the sight of it on the plate. Make it a real dining experience.

And sometimes, just be with yourself and sit in the solitude. Breathe. Commune with nature. Notice everything you can about the things around you. Focus on the way your breath feels in your lungs, pay attention to your chest or stomach rising and falling. Don’t try and change anything, simply pay attention to it. Be curious, without judging.

Don’t expect things to change immediately. Your brain will kick in with the automatic response again and again. It likes things to stay the same, so it will hit you harder with stuff when you try to make some changes. Persist with it when you catch your mind wondering, your brain is just doing its job.

 

Play with it and see how it goes.

mindfulness senses

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: