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?
So many of us seek, even actively chase, a sense of peace and fulfillment. We enjoy the fruits of life that we find bestowed on us, in parochial measure, but can we say that we truly treat ourselves kindly or are content, with ourselves?
Kindness as an act, is something we do in treating and interacting with others. Whatever your beliefs, as a child of this universe, we are all deserving of kindness and respect. It is a fundamental human right.
And yet, we shy away from practising loving self-care towards our own bodies and minds, because it gives rise to feelings of guilt. Or, we see it as some kind of character flaw, a sign of weak indulgence or self-centred narcissistic navel-gazing.
Body Image and Disliking Ourselves
Some of us take this even further developing an intense hatred or discomfort with parts of our bodies, for whatever reason. We seek to change the way we look via cosmetics, surgery or decoration.
We may have been unkind to ourselves over time, seeing ourselves only through others’ eyes. It is all too easy to be hyper-critical of an imperfection, when comparing oneself to others. It is important that we see that this kind of perspective, or lens, distorts the way we think about our own bodies and our sense of self suffers. Over time, these thoughts become hard to shift.
..there is no hurt, no lost or berated part of ourselves that cannot be touched by our own loving kindness. Indeed, little kindnesses towards ourselves made habitual in daily life are enough to turn any tide, bit by bit, day by day.
Whatever we think of ourselves, at this moment, we must not forget that we ARE INDEED unique and valuable to this world.
In apportioning loving kindness to all, we can consciously practice self-care.
Being kind to oneself, on a regular basis, is a useful life skill which can help us more readily soothe and quell anxiety and distress in the face of difficult challenges, or thoughts.
Furthermore, when we are kind to ourselves, (and others), we begin to see that we are indeed worthy of tenderness and this, in turn, may strengthen not only our own self- confidence, but also feelings of comfort and support.
It is never too late to be kind and loving towards ourselves. The past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Focus on thinking that will sustain and support 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.”
Are all Bloggers would-be storywriters, in disguise?
I had to think a little more about why bloggers are attracted to write in the first place?
Is it because we have a desire to express ourselves and communicate to others, using the written word?
Blogging is like a Facebook post on caffeine!
Writing Your Own Story
I believe the stories we, as bloggers, write are to entertain or inform. Whether that is a work of non-fiction or a completely fictitious story, it can be entertaining for the reader.
Mostly, for the reason that people ARE interested in the details of other peoples’ lives and happenings. If you are in doubt, just look at how many Reality TV shows are on TV.
It can be a levelling experience for us to be watching or engaging with others. In doing so, we also learn about ourselves, as well as the journey through life.
Attracting More Blog Followers
Sandy and I have been discussing the art of blogging and the purpose of maintaining a blog after WordPress kindly reminded me I had begun this gig, ten years ago! This revelation was, for me, a little embarrassing when I looked at some bloggers who had acquired massive followings, in that same period of time. [And I say this trying hard to not focus on that number that pops up in my sidebar or notification lists.]
I do not blog to gain more followers, but I have to be honest: I do look at that number for feedback. I question myself: Am I writing something of interest to another person? Was my post boring? Is anyone listening to what I am saying? Did I communicate that well?
I worried too that my blog wasn’t focused enough, that I hadn’t found my niche. The thing is, I don’t know my niche.
Sandy from Thesandychronicles.blog
From the comments on these posts, it seems many of us, including me, might have this niggling doubt that our blogs. We worry our writing is not focused enough to gain interest, that is, unless we are a committed food/photographic or travel blogger, who posts solely on the one chosen topic.
Then I thought about the fact that we DO have people visiting and taking the time to post a comment, so that seems to prove otherwise. Thus, I’d like to challenge this almost subliminal notion many of us have, that our blog should be more defined.
Does it really matter if our blog is diversified in its topics?
I have some followers that enjoy my Sunday quotes, others who only like and comment on the photographic challenges and still others who will presumably only read the art, or lifestyle, posts.
With just a single focus for blogging, I would miss out on, “chatting” to this wide spectrum of readers via their own blogs and the comments they make.
Each and every one of my readers bring, with them, their own individual opinions and thoughts, which results in a wonderfully rich tapestry of backgrounds and perspectives that can only be beneficial for me, as a writer.
The number and content of comments on our posts, are perhaps the real litmus test for any Blogger. Growing a dedicated Blogger community will never happen overnight. In the meantime, we can continue to hone our craft and have a lot of fun in the process.
What is it that attracts you to a certain blog?
Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda
This post is a part of a new series of CONVERSATIONS between Sandy and myself. Over the next little while, we’ll talk about a topic, compare notes, share Q&A and invite you to join in.
Do you have any topics to suggest for our Blogging Conversations?
Pingback to join in and write a conversation post.
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.
The Honey bee is successful because it is a master of teamwork and collective decision making. They use their communication system to allow good decisions to spread and diminish information that is unhelpful.
According to Author Joanne Reed, humans in a group, are influenced by what the majority of others are thinking, or doing, a similar thought, or thing, rather than the message, a type of herd mentality. When there is uncertainty in the environment surrounding a decision, she notes that people tend to feel safer, ‘siding with the crowd,’ rather than going it alone, even if that decision might be a bad one. Yet we are alert to bad news, it garners our attention, more so than good news.
Social Experiment on Herd Mentality
Citing a social experiment using slot machines and payouts, Joanne Reed talks about how people tended to follow the choice of the majority, once they had learned a particular slot machine paid out, more often than the rest. When the winning slot machine was changed, they stuck with playing that same machine even after it no longer paid out.
When uncertainty increased, players apparently took even longer to break away from conformant behavior.”
Many marketing techniques exploit this tendency in human nature. Just this week, I saw a video advertisement for an online program designed to teach you “Secret Ways to Boost Sales,” (of one’s art products). The message was clear – You would be foolish to pass this opportunity by, as everyone, yes, everyone, is doing this and everyone, is increasing their sales exponentially.
Social Media and advertising plays around with this herd mentality and our decisions as a consumer. We seem more inclined to trust a beauty or personal product if it is endorsed by a particular celebrity, or professional. Products that receive a gazillion ‘likes,’ or positive reviews, appear to be seen as trustworthy and reliable, than those with a mere one-star rating.
“People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.”
Jess C. Scott, Literary Heroin (Gluttony): A Twilight Parody
Some are tempted to follow blogs or social media accounts with large followings, based on the quality of the site’s content, or the curiosity to check out what all the ‘hype,’ is about? These folks might think there is a very good reason people view them and they want to know too, right?
In smaller groups or where there was a less challenging task to undertake, people seem more comfortable pursuing, or willing to explore, less popular or divergent decisions. But this feeling of certainty and penchant for safety in numbers, that draws us to side with the crowd – where has it come from? George Patton appeared to value divergent thinking.
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.”
Given that bees are highly successful using collective communication methods, it is interesting that we have been successful despite our tendencies towards herd decision making. Some research suggests that we have been successful, not just because we were a co-operative species, but because we have been friendly. People are more likely to work cooperatively, if their colleagues are friendly.
Some folks might be more inclined to join a protest rally when their friends were doing it, or it seemed the right thing to do because there is a subconscious message as everyone is doing it? Would they still join the protest on belief in the cause, alone?
The nail that sticks up, will be hammered down
Food for Thought
Does this have implications in what we see in today’s society? Or how future societies might be?
Are we just as guilty of herd decision-making, if we side with the majority of a team in a workplace?
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.
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.
“If I expect the worst, I am pleasantly surprised when something turns out well.”
Such an approach to life situations, is modus operandi for some members of my family.
I do get why people do get into the habit. I used to do this myself.
Some don’t like to get their hopes up and experience disappointment. They would rather enjoy the pleasant surprise when everything works out well. Sounds plausible and positive, but is it good for our mental health?
Is this a productive way of thinking – in that it supports us in dealing with our daily issues?
If you do this, does it work for you?
You might even be a “prepper.”
Not the kind that are preparing for the apocalypse, but those folk that prepare for the worst-case scenario, exploring alternatives, or problem-solving the task or situation at hand in order to understand everything that can go wrong, so they can handle it better, when or if, it does go pear-shaped.
In preparing for the worst-case scenario, they feel they begin to process their own grief reaction to crises or adverse circumstances in their life.
Thinking negatively, expecting “the worst,” seeing the downside of positive situations, and even downright expecting failure, all convey a kind of backwards-thinking, emotional insurance policy.
Marc and Angel
When things work out well, people use this mental strategy to feel good about the uncontrollable nature of life.
They are innately rewarded unconsciously for this way of thinking.
This leads them to use this technique to deal with life again and again. Then it becomes entrenched as a habitual response. A habit like this can be extremely hard to shift.
I used to think more often in the negative, thinking I was preparing for unfavourable outcomes. I would worry about things, trying to process them, and by so doing felt I would be better prepared for the worst of the worst outcomes, if that eventuated. In the meantime, was I setting myself up for a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Sometimes, as foolish as it sounds, we’d rather be right about our negative predictions than have a positive outcome prove us wrong. And since negative thinking leads to negative actions, or no action at all in many cases, by thinking negatively we create a self-fulfilling prediction for ourselves that confirms that we were right about the circumstance all along.
In other words, we think negatively, predict a negative outcome, act negatively, and then receive a negative outcome that fulfils our prediction. Of course, none of this is what we truly want or need in our lives.
Marc and Angel
It seems that our desire to want to be right, or feel in control of the changeable nature and vagaries of life is one reason why we subconsciously choose this negative strategy, through no fault of our own.
In fact, whatever it is we are seeking will rarely ever come in the form we’re expecting, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful.
Choose to ignore negative thoughts because they do not support you but do not feel guilty if this is not easy or achievable.
Life can be good even if it isn’t perfect. Too many people miss a silver lining because they’re expecting pure gold. Life can be good even if it isn’t perfect.
Positive thinking isn’t about expecting the best to always happen, but accepting that whatever happens, is the best, for the moment.
Someday, the negative voice inside you will have nothing left to say.
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.