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.
Blame and finding fault teaches us to avoid facing up to some truth about ourselves.
It encourages us to search for what is wrong and who we think was responsible because of an underlying often unconscious belief, we carry, that infers if we are always right, we will be happy. If we could control other people and their actions, then that might be possible.
We all know that controlling others is, pretty much, impossible.
When controlling others fails, as it inevitably does, our innate Plan B might be to use guilt, fear, domination or manipulation; even conditional love and criticism to get what we think we want, or feel that we need.
If there is no value in holding on to guilt, why do we do so? Why is it so hard to let things go?
Forgiveness is the key.
Forgive yourself as well as others, for your own sake.
Tolstoy suggested a bad mood might be the reason we blame others. How often do we hear:
“If only they/it would/didn’t/can ………”
Yet blaming others is not likely to lead to feelings of serenity. Instead it may create more negative feelings and paint your own self as a victim, as the following quote alludes.
“Some people love being victims because they love being able to blame someone else. Accountability is too much for them. They don’t like being responsible for who they have become or where they are in life.” Anonymous
Gode ord skal du hogge i berg, de dårligere i snø.
Carve your good words in stone, the bad in snow.
Old Norwegian Proverb
I do love the way old words of wisdom offer us a way forward when we are stuck in our heads, with thoughts that do us no good at all.
Old proverbs offer us succinct suggestions and have many layers of interpretation, if we are open to listening.
Not only does the Norwegian proverb relate to criticism of others, it might also give us advice on how we view ourselves and how we react to criticism from other people.
Criticism from Others
Is it possible to eliminate criticism?
Du kan unngå kritikk ved ikke å si noe, ikke å gjøre noe og ikke å være noe.
You can escape criticism by not saying anything,
by not doing anything and becoming nothing.
The only way to escape criticism entirely is to follow the Danish proverb’s advice.
Accepting that there will always be people who criticize, regardless of what you do or how well you do it, is something we might have to hear, but not something we have to internalize.
If you say you want to be a dancer, they will discredit your rhythm. If you say you want to build a new business, they will give you a dozen reasons why it might not work. They somehow assume you don’t have what it takes, but they are dead wrong.
It’s a lot easier to be negative than positive – a lot easier to be critical than correct.
I was announcing to friends that I was to leave my inner-city lifestyle and was moving to a Home by the Sea. A Seachange is the correct word, I believe.
“What. Why?” was the plaintive responses from colleagues and friends.
“Why move further out? That’s a long commute.”
Especially when, they continued to counsel me, a sought-after, inner-city lifestyle offers heady attractions and a swathe of facilities and friends, in close proximity? And my own kids concurred.
At the first whiff of this decision, the adult children refused to be involved. They saw it as a hedonistic move to the region’s boganesque outskirts, better known as, ‘The Peninsula.’
So why did we decide to continue with a Seachange?
Because life in the city cuts both ways.
Inner City Lifestyle is Attractive
Our urban locale of many years was idyllic, or so we thought.
Picture energetic, vegan eateries and sushi trains, interspersed with Craft beer hangouts playing Indie music, to all hours. Streets lined with cafes, punctuated by glamorous shops, awash with white and taupe furnishings, selling those ludicrously expensive cushions that are positioned for looks, rather than comfort, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my former location. Many would find that attractive.
I have to admit the inner city life was swanky and practical. I had only a short walk to public transport, of all kinds, and a multitude of library and shopping options, as well as bakeries or gourmet restaurants, so close, that I’d never had to worry about squashing the bread or drinking and driving the car home.
So I had to ask myself again, why did I want to leave?
Because, it seemed. there was a niggling discontent in my heart.
I had begun to notice the downsides to urban living and they were becoming more and more bothersome, the closer I got to retirement age. I needed a change.
But wait. I began to hesitate.
Did I really want to give up work and this urban lifestyle right now, given that one’s work and financial contribution to society forms a large part of our identity?
I had to think this through properly and reassess what I’d really miss and what might be a potential deal-breaker. Was I ready for Retirement and a Seachange? It was a big move!
Weighing Up the Pros and Cons of Hipster Life in the City
Point #1 – Endless Facilities
City living is an ongoing adrenaline rush and offers many opportunities, but it also results in an expanding waistline and other First-World Problems that triggers a level of guilt, in me, one I wasn’t entirely happy with.
I had to admit Triple-shot Macchiatos or Banh Mi Market Breakfasts with Almond smoothies, at the local markets, were really fun but also the chief suspects in my increasing girth.
Those lovely market stalls one browses, on Sunday mornings, you know the ones that feature lovely handmade items, or organic Kombucha with a Turmeric and Kale chaser and a pulled pork bun, are very hipster, but as I wasn’t exercising too much, (I dislike aerobic exercise), you can have too much of a good thing. Diet and health concerns were not the only pressure.
Add to this, I felt indulgent. This consumerist lifestyle felt privileged and wasteful, considering how much poverty, need and homelessness exists in the world. There had to be something better that aligned more with my twilight years.
Point #2 (Or should I call it: bothersome fact #2?) – Noise, Busy Roads and Traffic
There were loads of new facilities, medical centres, shops, gyms and pilates studios opening every other week in the inner city districts. However, the incessant noise from the construction was something I wasn’t getting used to. Quite the contrary, my sleep was disturbed more and more with each passing month. Sleep deprivation is the kind of torture that one can’t abide when the childbearing years are far behind you, so the noise did nothing to foster a jolly mood.
Couple this issue with two near-miss incidents with myself and heavy machinery, plus a workman’s vehicle swerving towards me, both happening at pedestrian crossings near home, were other imperatives to move to a quieter area. (Twice in one week, I was nearly run over simply crossing the road to follow the concreted footpath!)
The horse and buggy style of those dated inner-city alleys and streets, that no cat worth his salt would be found swinging in, are all very quaint when you are a pioneer in the early 19th century, but crossing the street after 6am in 2020 was akin to having a death wish.
And, don’t get me started on the lack of on, or off-street, parking. That was Point #3.
Point #4 – Sharing Space with a Growing Population Density
Exercise in the inner city constituted a 30-minute stroll in the morning down a popular shared bike and pedestrian path. Early morning walks here, had recently become a dance with death as teams of hardcore, professional cycling enthusiasts, festooned in their all-too-revealing-bodysuits notoriously rode at that same time, and usually three abreast.
Some would forget to ring their bell as a warning of their impending presence and I’d stumble to maintain my balance and calm my frightened dog, as they swished past in a blur of lycra, shouting, “Move – it’s a bikeway,” in a range of accents, or offer a very defiant ‘finger,’ if I didn’t move to let them pass.
Despite all of this, it was the bruises that finally cemented my decision to sell and move to the Home by the Sea.
Point #5 – Small Rooms
In particular, the bruises incurred when my toe, or shin, connected clumsily with the bed-posts in the small inner-city Townhouse that I had down-sized to, as a potential retirement home. Low maintenance it was, but Townhouse living was going to be problematic.
Every room in my ultra-modern townhouse was so small, so confined, that it meant kicking my toe or shin, on the corner of the bed, vanity or chair, became a daily event. It might have been cute, compact and a breeze to clean, but there’s always a trade-off, isn’t there?
It was clear that I needed somewhere with a tad more space.
Not only that, but the family dog agreed with me.
Point #6 – Limited Yard for Pets
The small courtyard at the Townhouse gave the family dog no place to bury a bone, nor conduct her usual border patrol for illegal animal infiltrators. Her job, she thought, was to protect the premises from the likes of lizards, cats, Ibis or random Scrub Turkeys. The small astro-turfed courtyard just didn’t cut it, for my Princess.
A Home by the Sea
So weighing up the odds, we decided to move.
In complete contrast to Townhouse life, the Schnauzer loves her new home that has a small to medium L-shaped grassy yard. Now she can choose whether to sun herself or roll around in delight on the soft, green grass.
A bit like me really.
Retirement and the Pandemic
The Covid pandemic may have meant I retired a little prematurely, but more importantly, it has given me time to walk the dog, enjoy early mornings on the beach and not have to rush off to work, in busy commuter traffic.
To date, I have not sustained any bruises from the furniture in my new home by the sea!
A seemingly unending blue sky, fresh sea air, a comforting quietness as well as new places and friends to discover, has me feeling relaxed and content with no time constraints and nothing to do, but enjoy the rest of my life.
I came across an interview as a follow on from a friend’s blog.
It was on a sensitive topic.
I have lived through a family member’s depressive and suicidal behaviour, and spent a long time trying to analyse and digest what and why.
There are always questions and no answers. A puzzle that is never complete.
A mystery without a solution.
If a tragedy involving a young adult occurs, the parent is forever changed. There are no magic answers for dealing with it, no rulebook. It leaves a black hole of despair, a permanent scar, for which there is no cure.
How can we help to prevent it?
Suicide occurs less in impoverished circumstances, as opposed to those who have resources and might be perhaps more comfortable in a socio-economic sense.
“I think you can say that when there is a suicide the entire family becomes totally unhinged. And even though we all seem to go back to normalcy, something has been broken forever.
In my own case, having been abandoned by my father in a way – he never was much of a father and then having being abandoned by Jim. The only person who never abandoned me except when he died was Johan Oosterveld, the farmer in the Upstairs Room, the man who saved my life. He was always there for me. He even left a closet, in his attic, with a hole that you could crawl into, where I had hidden from the Germans.
Because he always said: ‘You never know – it might come in handy again, and then Annie you can come back from Neuf York and you can get right back in there.”
Johanna Reiss, author of a Hidden Life.
Johanna Reiss explains it in a better way than I could:
“The middle class and the upper class are much more likely to commit suicide than those who have to find their daily bread, so to speak.
(In) Elie Wiesel’s book. I had read that in concentration camps, the biggest goal for most of them was to get the next crust of bread. And they were already being punished by the Nazis, so they didn’t think they had to punish themselves too.
There were very few suicides in concentration camps, which is strange when you think about it, it surely seems like a place you’d want to get away from.”
“‘There has to be a reason for people to stay alive, there has to be hope, and there has to be somebody or something that is so important, that you couldn’t possibly leave it.’
Elie Wiesel, a Romanian-born American writer, Nobel laureate, and Holocaust survivor wrote that he was considering running into the barbed wire once, but he didn’t because his father needed him. And that’s the only time he mentions the allure of suicide.”
It is vital that the sufferer does not feel abandoned, that they have a reason to be.
You are not alone.
If you feel it is just too much, speak up and tell someone you are not okay.
Call a friend.
Send a message or text.
Tell someone that you need support.
Tell anyone you feel you can speak to, be that medical, commercial or religious.
“The happiness of life is made up of the little charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment.”
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In the wake of #Black Lives Matter, some folk appear inclined to believe that being strong is a way to win respect, when it is just a way to promulgate fear.
They may have mistakenly learnt that in being strong they achieve more, or receive more. Does being strong ever bring happiness and contentment?
The two just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
Does a staunch or rigid boss even win respect from his workers by being hard-core? Or they do live in fear of disappointing him? Does a hard-line leader win support through negativity or merely decrease morale?
Kindness is not to be mistaken for weakness, nor forgiveness for acceptance. It’s about knowing resentment of any kind is not on the path to happiness.
Self – Criticism
We may be in the habit of berating or criticising ourselves for perceived shortcomings, constantly putting our own needs last, or inadvertantly disallowing ourselves the time, space and patience we deeply need to rest, heal and, ultimately to feel more content. In short, we are unwittingly being unkind to ourselves.
We may be our harshest critic; it may have become second nature to criticise ourselves and very challenging to praise and comfort ourselves or others.
But we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Kindness can fortify life, and seeing ourselves and others through a kinder lens can make a world of difference to all.
Regular practice of kind words and actions is infectious and it might just be the highest real success we achieve in this life. And it needn’t cost a thing.
Ultimately it is up to us as the sole creator of our thoughts.
Do you think you will appear weak if you show kindness to others?
Would it feel indulgent or selfish to show kindness to yourself?
Is there a time when you must display strength, without kindness, to survive?
I am a bit late with posting my Sunday Sayings quote as it is now Monday afternoon, in Australia. I don’t want writing a regular blog post to become a chore, for then I feel sure my writing would lose spontaneity and appeal, so if I can’t think of anything useful to write, I won’t post at all. Just so you know.
Today’s inspiration resulted after a long walk along the beach with a friend.
Being on the beach at sunrise is fantastic and I feel extremely fortunate to experience it. With little accompanying wind and a mild air temperature, (given it was a winter’s morning in a sub-tropical part of Australia), the sun bid good morning through the low level cloud, hugging the islands across the bay.
That fire breathing star of atoms we all depend on for life, shone over the lapping seawater like a spotlight on a runway carpet. A beam of golden light that stretched across the ocean from the horizon to the shore line like a path to eternity. Magical.
As we walked, my friend and I chatted about life’s dramas, past experiences and the week ahead. She told me about a gentlemen on a UK TV show, who faced enormous challenges in his daily life, and who had seemingly had more than his share of devastating family tragedies, with one cataclysmic life event following another.
In chatting about the TV show and these experiences, I remembered a quote I had read some time back.
Life Challenges and Adversity
After our walk was done and I was at home sipping a cup of tea, I pondered some more about life and facing adversity.
We have all experienced some level of adversity in life.
Everyone has challenges, sooner or later. There wouldn’t be one person on the planet that hasn’t faced some kind of adversity.
Given that such challenges and adversity are omnipresent, or a natural part of life, aiming to live a life without them seems a tad unrealistic and even far-fetched.
Yet how often do we yearn, and sometimes expect, life to be challenge free: wishing for an easy life.
I guess it is in our nature to want life to be trouble free and have free time to pursue hobbies, sport or leisure pursuits. Devices, gadgets and the latest electronic inventions promises itself as a panacea to our time-poor existence.
So I ask:
Why are we looking to save so much time?
In doing so, are we living in the here and now, or looking forward to a mythical ‘down’ time, failing to notice our lives, passing by?
Why do we Want More Leisure Time Anyway?
To make life more meaningful
To experience more relaxation and peace
To conduct leisure pursuits
To stop working in a job that bring us joy
What is it that gives us a sense of satisfaction in life?
If the Covid pandemic has any lesson, it is that some folks become completely bored without work, with nothing constructive to do, and a few even create mischief for others.
Is it in the facing of challenges that we come alive?
In overcoming adversity and challenges, even if painful or sad, we can learn and grow. This, in turn, might lead to a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment. Right?
You tell me.
What is it that you are seeking in wanting more leisure time?
Would you prefer a life completely free from challenges?
Join the Discussion
Everyone is welcome to comment, well except for spammers, of course.
Are You Expecting Too Much? Is it time to evaluate or eliminate unreasonable rules and expectations.
When we are feeling a bit dissatisfied with the way life is, we tend to make judgements about other’s actions that are somewhat misaligned or skewed.
We might miscontrue their intentions, place expectations on others and inadvertantly set uprules for how life should be, when there may be an alternative explanation.
Do you ever catch yourself thinking:
“He was late, so he must not care about me.” – Or –
perhaps he just got caught in traffic.
“If I can’t do this correctly, then I must not be smart enough.” – Or –
perhaps you just need more practice.
“I haven’t heard back from my doctor, so the test results must be bad.” – Or
– perhaps the lab is just really busy and your results aren’t available yet.
Marc and Angel
Inventing rules like these about how life must be, based on stubborn expectations, may lead to dissatifaction. We must deal with the world the way it is, not the way you expect it to be.
Life is under no obligation to give you exactly what you expect.
This isn’t to say that you should never expect anything at all from yourself and others such as diligence, honesty, ambition, but rather that the rules that govern your expectations should not steer you toward unreasonably negative conclusions.
Just because it didn’t turn out like you had envisioned, doesn’t mean it isn’t exactly what you need to get to where you ultimately want to go.
Marc and Angel
If you feel dissatisfied or let down by an outcome, then you might have been thinking or expecting something quite different.
Were your expectations too high/narrow?”
“What new truths have you learned from this experience?”
Keeping an external focus allows us to find a lesson somewhere from every experience. When we find the lesson, we can grow from such an experience, rather than retreat into misery or unhelpful mindsets.
We must be careful to see and accept things as they are instead of allowing ourselves to be upset that things are not as you hoped, wished, or expected them to be.
When the internet came along, it was suggested that everything would be done online, from shopping to employment and communications. Individuals would not need to leave home to live their consumer lives.
The public however, has shown that we are primarily social creatures and are reluctant to embrace a completely virtual lifestyle.Whilst online shopping has undoubtedly increased, it wasn’t the tidal wave envisaged by the tech industry, until Covid 19 came along.
Our lives have become more virtual, whether we liked it, or not.
Getting takeout or takeaway doesn’t seem to give us the same experience as dining in at a restaurant or cafe. Neither does the online shopping experience feel quite as satisfying as the benefits of browsing in person at a store, feeling the fabric in a garment, physically trying on clothing, or chatting to another shopper, seeing what is around.
Because it is not just the objective alone, that is important.
It’s the whole consumer experience.
The atmosphere at the cafes and shops is attractive to us through our senses: the watching of people; the smells, sights and sounds; (overwhelming for some), or the conversation with friends you meet whilst shopping; the interaction with Cafe staff and fellow diners; the inspirational decor on the walls, or from the books on the shelves in a bookstore; even the art on the walls.
All of this, together, gives us a pleasurable sensory experience that is clearly important to us, as a comment on my second blog alluded.
“We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”
Benefits of Covid and Virtual Lifestyle
During the Covid lockdown, skies, streets and air appears cleaner and we have more time on our hands. None of that horrid sitting stuck in traffic on the way home from work, or rushing to catch a crowded train with a million other commuters at 5pm.
Other people discover there is time to get to know their kids, becoming involved, by choice or necessity, in their education, or generally engaging with them more because there is little ecternal events to absorb their time. (Albeit for some, this could be far more stressful and family life might suffer from a lack of outside exposure, stimulation or influence).
All wonderful benefits of an enforced, semi-virtual life.
Yet, it seems even introverts or socially phobic individuals have struggled with being cooped up during the Covid pandemic.
We, as humans, seem to value social interaction above any virtual experience.
Cafe Society Lifestyle
Prior to the appearance of Covid, the Cafe society was a popular lifestyle choice in Australia. When cafes closed down in lock-down, no one knew what would happen. Aussie Cafes/Diners and Restaurants were legally allowed to operate only on a takeaway, (takeout), basis.
Many chose to close, temporarily, or permanently and the alfresco cafe dining experience came to an abrupt end.
The Beach Esplanade, near my home, is lined with popular cafes and restaurants of all persuasions and cuisines. Being smaller businesses, most have closed completely, but some remain open. Last night, I placed a phone order for a ‘Quarantine Pack’, at one of the restaurants. Being a Friday night, I wondered what I’d find when I arrived for the meal.
At the Italian restaurant itself, a makeshift pick-up counter was laid out with social distancing markers in the formerly packed out al fresco dining area. Customers awaited their order in silence, or hushed in conversations with their partner, spaced well apart from each other. This was a very different picture to the regular Friday night.
On the opposite side of the road, overlooking the sea, couples and small family groups sat on benches or rugs, at the required social distance, eating their takeaway meals and watching the moonlight filtering over the waves, lapping the shore.
It was another life, but it was okay. Not ideal, but it had a beauty all of its own, even a little nostalgic or romantic perhaps.
It begs the question as to how much of a virtual lifestyle we can lead?
Is it possible for human beings to live like this, at all?
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
If you think of yourself as the best thing since sliced bread, that will become your reality.
Likewise, if you think you are broken, or a failure, then in all likelihood, you will feel broken and miserable.
If you feel you have some faults but are working hard to improve them, you might also feel differently.
Individual thoughts become your reality.
If you feel the future is hopeless, it is extremely hard to find a solution.
Even if your reality is realistic and accurate, intrusive thoughts have a way of sneaking into our mental vocabulary. Ann Koplow had some great pointers to remedy those. Perhaps it is useful strategies for all of us?
Challenge Labels. If you label yourself negatively, such as “a fool” or “a loser,” remind yourself that such absolute terms are subjective and meaningless, and that human beings are too complex to be reduced that simplistically. Also, consider the possibility that somebody else may have given you that idea about yourself, and that they were wrong.
Reality testing. Ask people questions to find out if your thoughts and concerns are realistic or true. This is a particularly effective response to the distortion of mind-reading.
Thought stopping. If you notice an unhelpful thought, cut it off immediately. Typical techniques include visualizing a big stop sign, saying “STOP!” to yourself, and giving yourself a sensory cue (e.g. snapping a rubber band you wear around your wrist). A “gentler” version of this is to notice an unhelpful thought and tell yourself, “That’s just a thought.”
Dr Robert Boice spent two decades delving into the minds of writers to work out why they are so easily distracted. He found that master procrastinators are suckers for falling for the short term hit at the expense of their long-term goal.
“When you have to make a choice and don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.” – William James
Then the panic sets in….
And most pertinent in this Corona phase of life:
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon – instead of enjoying the roses blooming outside our windows today.” – Dale Carnegie
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” – Olin Miller
Do you identify with facets of procrastination?
Is it a fear of the future that holds you back from dealing with issues or would you consider motivation, or a lack thereof, more imperative to procrastination?
Why do we procrastinate so much? Is it worse since the advent of our electronic devices?
If so, is that mean we are more distractible these days. And then, my question would be, what does that lead to in the long term?
Something to ponder about this Sunday.
Join in the discussion. I would love to hear your perspective.
Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness. And they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy… or they become legend. – Jim Harrison
Most of us have some kind of inner dialogue within our minds, that is the manifestation of our thoughts. Sometimes our self-talk or thoughts are kind and positive, supporting and encouraging us, such as, “Don’t be afraid, – you can do it!” Other times, they can become a destructive enemy, suggesting we don’t deserve any measure of happiness.
Our minds hear these inner thoughts or talk, and sometimes they get stuck on an endless repeat. The subconscious mind might then have a difficult time distinguishing between reality and imagination, as both positive and negative thoughts may stimulate neural networks and result in physical reactions in the body.
We can use mental imagery to our advantage in slowly or stopping those recurring thoughts, through simple visualization techniques. Listening to slow music and visualizing your day helps to organize your thoughts, mentally prepare you, and reduce stress. Studies on visualization techniques have shown positive outcomes whereby the subconscious mind hears and believes a suggestion leading to a boost in confidence and mental preparedness, not felt before. www.huffpost.com
I have used the following visualization to help me deal with persistent undesired thoughts, feeling of anxiety, frustration or stress and just when I am feeling overwhelmed, overstimulated or wish to calm down.
I use a visualisation that involves imagining that I am sitting comfortably on the bank of a stream, watching random twigs or branches float by with the gentle current. I imagine that a twig, branch or even a leaf, is an individual thought.
Sit comfortably on the bank of your ‘imaginary’ stream.
When a thought comes along in your mind, imagine seeing that thought as a twig or leaf, floating on the surface of the water.
Watch each leaf, or thought, approach from a bend further up the stream; imagine each leaf approaching you, getting closer and closer, until it floats in front of you.
Acknowledge its presence but continue to watch it floating by with the gentle current.
Continue watching it on its way downstream, until it slowly disappears from view and is out of sight.
You can use a leaf for a minor thought like a household chore that needs to be done and a branch for a big “worry,” if that helps you.It doesn’t matter.
What matters is the movement down the stream and out of sight.
Occasionally a twig will get stuck on the side of the bank, (ie the persistent unstoppable thought), until the current builds and builds and then you imagine seeing it finally washing downstream, too.
Sometimes you might find your focus wanders a little, or that twig gets stuck for too long behind a rock on the bank. Distract the mind into letting the thought go, by moving your focus to look further upstream again, to ‘see,’ what thought the mind will come up with next. Try it!
Feel free to adjust location, or image, as you prefer. You might prefer sitting in a field watching a animal such as a bird, (or deer) instead of a leaf in a stream. You could watch the bird come into your line of sight, watch it pause to eat and then watch it fly away.
In this way your mind allows thoughts to come, it acknowledges them, yet you remain a silent observer of your thoughts. You are not fighting to keep the thoughts away.
This allows the mind to release the thought and leave your attention. This is way better than the troubling thought! It gives your mind that much-needed break.
Visualization is one of the ways to get your mind back on track when you feel out of balance.
Another stress relief technique from another blogger:
“Lie on your back and imagine all the stress in your body is warm lava concentrated at the top of your head. Then, slowly imagine it pouring down your ears, neck, shoulders, and entire body. You should actually feel a sensation roll down your body as you imagine the stress leaving your head. I use this to fall asleep, and I have never stayed awake past my shoulders.”
The more faithfully you listen to the voices within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. – Dag Hammarskjold