Do you ever think about what youwant to happen in a forthcoming situation? Or does worry get in the way and you tend to focus on what you don’t want to happen?
The Ego and Finding Fault
It seems our ego focuses naturally on the negative aspects, due to an outdated evolutionary adaptation and we are then in a postion that makes us hard-pressed to see positives.
Fault finding comes from believing your happiness comes from the world according to your liking.
We then tend to find fault with whatever is going on, to blame others or circumstances, especially where the outcome has been less than, what we consider, satisfactory.
This may have helped us survive in pre-historic times, where man-eating beasts lurked close by, but is hardly relevant to modern life. Now, our egos flood our brains with self-critical thoughts, most of which are not terribly accurate and anxiety quickly follows.
Lee Jampolsky once asked a stressed-out salesman,
“What is the real purpose of a sale?
Replying about his own needs and that he wanted to boost his sale stats, Jampolsky then encouraged the salesman to instead direct his thought focus outwards – ie. so that his real purpose in a transaction or interaction would be that he was genuinely interested in the person he was selling to, in being patient and kind and, to try to ‘see’ the customer’s heart.
To the salesman’s surprise, his sales rose significantly and he was no longer so stressed when he followed that sageful advice. His customers picked up on those non-verbal and verbal signals that he ‘cared.’
Without the ego naturally defaulting to negative, there is room in our minds for all sorts of alternative thoughts.
Contemplating a more positive goal at the beginning of any situation may help influence the outcome, (even if you are not convinced of its worth, at first).
What Went Wrong?
Don’t waste your precious time on analysing what went wrong with a situation. Ignore those feelings that you have been short-changed in lifeas they tend promulgate the victim concept, which only makes you feel worse.
Think about what your goal is, making it pertinent to your perception and personal actions and see what happens.
We can attract the exact things that we give thought oxygen to or dwell on.
Jampolsky believes that we can direct ourselves to be peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside.
Sometimes a word or two can spark an outrage or can offer comfort. Other times words might even be prophetic.
Unfortunately, it seems the later is the case. I write about Australia’s Covid-free bubble and cautioned that weshouldn’t become too complacent and forget hygiene measures.
At New Year’s Eve, I noticed people were fast getting a too cocky with life, resuming normal practices like hugging and kissing, even though there were still a few isolated Covid cases in a few states, including ours. All cases were in hotel quarantine and out of public access, until now. Then:
New Covid Outbreak in Queensland, Australia
A cleaner in hotel quarantine has come down with the highly infectious UK strain of the virus. The cleaner was catching public transport for a week prior to detection.
The region is now in lockdown from 6pm tonight and masks are mandatory. [You might remember I was prevented from wearing masks, last year in my workplace].
The announcement came at 8.30 am today, but at 8.20 am people were already out and about panic buying.
Toilet paper supplies, I suspect.
The lockdown is only until Monday morning, but they suspect it could last a week.
Has the public forgotten shops were once closed all weekend? Are we not able to survive more than one day without shopping? Are toilet paper supplies that thin? (Excuse the pun).
One Covid case; (no new cases today) and wholesale chaos reigns at the stores. Think of the UK – or other states and countries that have been in lockdown for months.
The hotel staff in the quarantine hotels, are now going to be tested daily. I wonder why this wasn’t previously instituted?
Christmas time may be a source of stress or joy. Compounding those yuletide stresses, the Covid pandemic continues to rage, so there was little cause for joy in many parts of the world.
Marlene inspired me to think of the year’s outcomes in terms of ‘gifts,’ some good and of course, some bad. We’d do well to focus on the better aspects for our own well-being. So, what if any, positives can be noted?
Lessons from the Pandemic
Whether we like the lessons or not:
This awful year has taught us patience and more appreciation for things at home.
This dreadful year has been a godsend for parts of the environment and animal world.
The pandemic afforded us time to develop or re-discover DIY home projects.
This deadly virus has potentially increased family tensions but has given extra time with loved ones. I will take as a blessing option, thanks.
Rates of family violence and alcohol consumption rose, yet levels of air pollution diminished due to fewer vehicles on the roads. The night sky was/is full of stars hitherto unseen in cities, as air quality improved.
Peak hour traffic congestion eased and commuter accidents lessened.
Workplaces were forced to become more flexible, benefitting those caring for someone, at home.
Money from saved travel and workplace costs, (uniforms, ancillary items, office durables and rentals), could instead be spent on other items that bring joy.
Extroverts suffered from social isolation but many introverts thrived.
..some Australian online [alcohol], retailers have reported 50% to 500% increases in sales compared to the same period in 2019.
This pandemic has uncovered a festering mal-contentment at the interplay between politics and society and offered diametrically opposed opportunities and grief.
Unemployment rose sharply and many lost businesses, their livelihood, or their lives. In some places, political decisions and divisiveness led to civil unrest. Financial ruin became rampant. Mental health nosedived.
For each one of us, the impacts may be very individual. With no short term end to Covid in sight, the heightened emotions the pandemic brings, remain uncomfortable and difficult for many folks to manage.
How do we deal with those difficult emotions?
Dealing with Difficult Emotions
Write Down Your Thoughts
Sometimes it can be cathartic to transfer those strong emotions into written words. Blogging can be great therapy.
Slow Down and See Each Moment
Ironically, the pandemic has made me feel grateful.
Grateful for things I DO have and it ensured I did slow down and appreciate the individual moments that pass by.
Grateful for our country’s relative safety bubble.
We can be grateful for modern science working hard to solve the virus riddle.
Grateful that I have not been touched by financial ruin, separation or Covid itself.
Grateful that even though my workinglife ended prematurely, I now have time to enjoy retirement activities with the Moth.
Grateful that I have daily incidental conversation with the adult children who came home due to financial reasons.
Grateful that I can let unimportant things slide.
Grateful to have the awareness I am so much more than just my emotions/feelings.
Grateful that emotions and feelings change as the world moves and changes. Everything must change for, just like bad weather, nothing ever lasts.
In this New Year of 2021:
If I feel sad, I will sit with that feeling of sadness.
If I feel loss, hurt or rejected, I will accept that feeling, not deny or think that I ‘shouldn’t,’ feel that way.
If I feel frustrated or inadequate, I will sit with that until the feeling passes. I won’t feel tormented that these emotions are wrong or bad, but rather let them ‘slide.’
Let it slide.
Not quite the same ‘sliding,’ as the lyrics of the song suggest, but the personal reminder is contained in that catchy melody; the melody that is today’s earworm.
An ever so slight adaptation of a quote from William James.
When things are grim for Christmas in your part of the world, it may help to ponder an old Norwegian saying: “behind those those dark clouds, the sky is always blue”. The old Norwegians did not have an easy life through the long, harsh, unforgiving winter. One group of settlers died out, literally starving to death in Greenland, but even so they balanced their negative thinking with such a positive saying.
In olden times, a negative attitude may not have been conducive to a successful community. They may have had to put emotions on the back burner and concentrate on sourcing or rationing meager food supplies. Life priorities were vastly different and yet, all that time these old people were fostering self-reliance and resilience to adversity.
We can learn much from their attitude if we are open to it.
What do you think? Is action correlated with our level of happiness?
We spend a lot of time in our own headspace, either at work or at home relaxing. In lockdown, some of us might be alone with our emotional thoughts, much more than we have ever experienced before.
This level of introspection, or mulling over problems, can get to a person, especially if they are a deep thinker or highly sensitive.
Concentration, Energy and Motivation
The extent to which we are occupied by our emotional-driven thoughts is often the extent to which energy is diverted away from our working memory, our concentration and motivation. We find it hard to concentrate on our work when we have something on our mind. The monkey mind, it is often called.
Caught Up in Our Emotions
We talk about being caught up in our emotions and it can feel like being trapped inside your own head. At these times, it is hard to re-focus on matters at hand. Our worry or frustration centres switch on and at times, go into, ‘overdrive.’
But those thoughts in our worry centre, are not reality-based thoughts. They are magnified, exagerrated, skewed or biased. We are so much more than those thoughts. Thoughts are not who a person is. Yet we give them power over our moods.
Just like a loud noise that bothers us, trying hard to block it out, will inevitably make the noise appear louder. This is because our focus on the noise has increased. We might even become angry and frustrated.
If we can’t remove the offending noise, we must decrease our focus in order to tolerate the annoying noise, or the many frustrations of our lives. If our attention is diverted away from focusing on the noise or the frustrations, we tend not to notice it and its persistence wanes.
Practising Mindful Strategies to Prevent Worry
Similarly, we can re-focus our attention away from the abyss of introspection, by practising ‘Mindfulness‘ techniques, which are designed to assist us in staying within the present moment. The only time we can act and live is right now, in the present moment. Everything else, the past and the future is only a construct of our minds, so focus on the here-and-now.
The Glennon Doyle and Buddha quotes may have been at odds, but one might assume their objectives were the same.
“When I was 15, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kinds of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people: Do you play sports? What’s your favourite subject? And I told him, no I don’t play any sports. I do theatre, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes.
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.”
And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.”
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.”
POINT: Lots of things are worth doing because they bring you joy, and for no other reason. Do them, enjoy them, be fulfilled.
Exposure to a stressful or traumatic situation doesn’t determine your mental wellbeing as much as how youinterpret the situation. For it is your own idiosyncratic response to the situation that determines your mental state.
The Hyper or Highly Sensitive Person
Almost 20% of people have hypersensitive nervous systems that process things differently to others. They feel and think more deeply, are often intensely compassionate and might become over-stimulated and stressed much more easily, than others. They are more vulnerable to chronic muscle tension and fatigue.
The highly sensitive person might feel solated, misunderstood or different to others. In the past, they may have been labelled, “highly strung.” Now they might be referred to as, ‘weak, emotional, or even broken.’
Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs were highly sensitive people who used their work to hide a sensory processing sensitivity.
“To feel intensely is not a symptom of weakness, it is the characteristic of a compassionate human being – one that nurtures a caring, humane world.Never be ashamed to let your feelings, smiles and tears shine a light in this world. Why you mull over slights that ought to be forgotten. Why subtleties are magnified for you and yet lost on others.
There is zero shame in expressing your authentic feelings.
Marc and Angel
Self-help Strategies to Deal with Sensitivity
Recognize your strengths and acknowledge what you HAVE achieved
Seek out kindred spirits.
Acknowledge the negative, but aim to focus towards the positive and search for those hidden positives in every situation, no matter how small.
Avoid negative environments as they will make you suffer more.
Treat yourself and others with compassion.
Change your thinking on perceived hidden flaws. Accept yourself and others by reframing your past misconceptions in terms of intuition, conscientiousness and vision.
Mindfulness and meditation techniques may help to decrease the intensity of your reactions to the content of your thoughts.
Challenge yourself to react to a stressful situation in a different way. Not everything counts.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Do you like to Help Others?
We are encouraged to help others according to the religious and social conventions of our world. Doing so, promotes joy in others, a sense of, ‘loving kindness,’ in our interactions with others and community.
where are the boundaries between helping others and neglecting our own needs in order to please others?
People-pleasers typically have low self–esteem. They overdo it on kindness and helpfulness because they feel a need to prove their worth. They’re uncomfortable with conflict and negative emotions, so they work hard to always keep their partners happy, with no concern for their own feelings.
This statement goes a little far in finger-pointing, and it could incite feelings of guilt in the person who aims to please. But I take their point on the fundamental issue.
So how do we achieve that balance between helping others and not hindering ourselves?
I think that it’s a learning process for some of us.
People pleasers hope that saying yes to everything asked of them will help them feel accepted and liked. However, no matter how nice they are, some people won’t like you for no good reason.
Do you like every person you meet?
Kindness or Pleasing Others?
Many people-pleasers confuse the act of pleasing people with kindness. When discussing their reluctance to turn down someone’s request for a favour, they say things like,
“I don’t want to be selfish,” or “I just want to be a good person.”
Consequently, they allow others to take advantage of them.
It is impossible to be all things to all people. Trying to be that person will just stress you out.
“Some people-pleasers have a history of maltreatment and somewhere along the way, they decided that their best hope for better treatment was to try to please the people who mistreated them.“
Some People-pleasers seem to spend a lot of time walking on eggshells and neglecting their own boundaries to keep a significant other happy*. For these folks, people-pleasing becomes a habit and a way of interacting with family, friends and other people.
*NB. If this tips over into an abusive relationship, professional help should be considered, at the earliest opportunity.
What You Can Do to Break a People-Pleasing Habit
Start by saying no to a small request or take a stand for something you truly believe in.
Express your real thoughts and opinions to something small or less significant.
Validate the other person’s right to a different opinion before calmly stating your own.
Check to see if this works for you.
A positive or neutral response to this, from the receiver, may help to build confidence in one’s own ability to be more aligned with the true self.
Any adjustments in this communication might mean re-phrasing your words without acquiescing your own beliefs. Validating other people’s right to their own opinion, whilst calmly stating your own, may also be helpful.
“I get why you would think that and it would be nice if I could see it your way/agree with you, but right now, I see it/think differently.”
“The Number 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbours.”
I was washing the Schnauzer Dog this morning and the young pup and rest of the family kept interrupting me, pushing open the door hitting me in the shoulder, when I was working with the dog in the tub, full of shampoo.
If it wasn’t the pup pushing open the closed door latch, it was the Moth a.k.a. ‘Man of the House,’ (New homes appear to have internal doors that don’t securely latch closed, unless you slam them).
Each time the door was opened, the very wet and soapy Schnauzer, now full of shampoo would repeatedly try to leap from the tub, and and you can just imagine how slippery a fully soaped up dog was. It was a slightly exasperating situation.
Dog washing complete, I then set about cleaning the laundry and the same scene repeated, much to my dismay. Newly cleaned floors covered with either Schnauzer paw prints or Moth footprints as suddenly everyone wanted to get into the laundry for some reason. Grr.
I felt the tension rising in my body. I was irritated by the door latch not staying closed and the laundry suddenly becoming busier than Central Station. After a few grumbles under my breath, I paused, took a deep breath and tried to remember the wise saying I read earlier this week:
If there is something you don’t like, you can either change it or change the way you think about it.
Each and every day, the real battle for freedom takes place in your mind.
Do you have a way of dissolving tension that works for you?
Before you panic, I’m not advocating opening up borders and businesses in the midst of a pandemic. Far from it, I err on the side of caution and conservatism when it comes to nasty bacteria and viruses.
Rather, I am referring to opening the door to our minds and our lives, which often stays closed, to the present moment.
The Present Moment
When old friends get together, they reminisce about the past. Older people love to chat about those heady, carefree days of youth. Their stories are tinged with regret. Regret that they didn’t do more, see more, love more.
Why is it we close our mind to really seeing the world around us, as each moment passes by, a moment that we will never be able to fully experience again? Many of us appear to prefer our own thoughts and stick with thinking that revolves around plans, or worries, for the future, and regrets or reminisces about the past.
When our minds are fixed in the mental construct that is the past or the future, we are more likely to create anxiety within ourselves.
Our Public Persona
Most of us have secrets and thoughts we stash away in the far recesses of our mind. We rarely show our complete self to another person. Presumably for fear of rejection. Because rejection hurts. So we present a public face and persona to the world and our private self is only for the movie that is running in our own minds.
It seems we now prefer to see what everyone else is doing, via the medium of a glass screen than to be involved in life, with all our senses.
Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world that occurs when we’re afraid it will hurt us or let us down. Cynics always say “no.”
If we always say no, we miss out on learning and growing. Saying yes leads to firsthand experience and knowledge. “Yes” is for strong, open-minded people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”
Marc and Angel
Why are we ignoring the immediate world around us?
Could we be preferencing cynicism over wisdom?
As Marc and Angel state,
“Accepting some level of risk in life is important. Everything you want to do takes daily practice.
Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Live the life you want to live. Be the person you want to remember years from now.
Make decisions and act on them. Make mistakes, fail and try again.”
Most of us spend our waking lives up in our own internal world. We over-think and, like overdoing anything, over-thinking tends to have negative consequences. In the case of constant mental meanderings, the risk is that they will lead to a negative spiral of indecisiveness, self-loathing depression and insomnia. One way to counter this is to make yourself more mindful.”
Dr Michael Mosley – The Clever Guts Diet
Can Mindfulness Meditation Improve Your Mood?
Dr Michael Mosley, famous for his documentaries on the human body, was examining the role of diet and gut health on the body. He wanted to objectively measure what effects, if any, mindfulness practice would have, on his brain. So he underwent a series of tests before embarking on beginning mindfulness techniques.
The studies showed he had cerebral asymmetry, which meant he displayed greater activity on the right side of their frontal cortex, than on the left. This indicated he was pessimistic by nature. Pessimistic people are prone to high levels of neuroticism and anxiety.
Evaluation of Mindfulness Techniques on the Brain
Following the testing, Michael Mosley practised mindful meditation for six weeks, mainly via an app. Like many busy people, he found excuses not to complete the practise: he was too busy, too tired, too hungry, too stressed. Practising along with his wife and incorporating mindfulness into everyday activities, such as having coffee, worked with a hectic lifestyle.
After six weeks of mindfulness practice, an Oxford University Professor re-tested Dr Mosley to find his brain showed an improved balance between the right and left hemispheres, accompanied by a sharp reduction in negative thoughts and emotions.
Beneficial Effects of Mindfulness on Physical and Mental Health
[Shannon] looked for the equivalent of a 30-minute workout for her mental wellbeing, [and] there was nothing. Worried for the future mental health of her kids who were growing up amidst epidemics of stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, in a world-first experiment, Shannon recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test.
Shannon Harvey documented how she experienced astounding changes over the course of the year practising mindfulness, despite having some serious misgivings and scepticism about its techniques.
Why Does Mindfulness have a Calming Effect?
Dr Michael Mosley believes that mindfulness works to calm the mind and body because it helps to strengthen your sense of control over your own thoughts and feelings.
Not only does mindfulness assist in learning to distance ourselves and let go of repetitive troubling thoughts; it also encourages a mind that remains focused in the ‘present moment’, thereby reducing anxiety and overwhelming emotions that stem from reflecting on the past or stressing over the future.
Mindfulness Techniques Improving Mental Health
In a study published by the journal, “Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience,” 15 volunteers completed four sets of 20-minute classes of mindfulness. Brain scans have found that mindfulness reduced anxiety ratings by 39%. They also found that it increased activity in the areas of the brain that control worrying, [….]which supports the claim that mindfulness strengthens our ability to ignore negative thoughts and feelings.