We are sold on quick fixes in life, the truth is there aren't any... sorry. It takes time to change patterning and behaviours. Read on to find out 4 tips for working through strong emotions like anxiety and depression.
Ambiguity & Change
I, like many of us generally like to know the expected outcome to what will happen next. Will I succeed? Will I have a rested sleep? Will my travel plans come together? As much as I try to control the variables to the outcomes, life just doesn't work that way.
The logical side knows this, yet we often strive, rebel and resist the reality of this truth. We feel overwhelmed, anxious, worried and continue to ask the same questions over and over - is this going to happen? When will it happen? Will it all work out?
This thought process is certainly one that I know well! - and is definitely one of the more 'sticky' thought process/patterns.
It can be really difficult to know exactly how to surrender, accept and let go. Some of the tools that I, and people I work with have found helpful are listed below...
Explore the root cause
Often our uncertainty arises out of fear or concern. It can be helpful from time to time to explore this further by journalling or mind mapping. Sometimes after we have explore a few of our concerns or worries we notice a pattern. Often it's an unconscious story that we buy into regularly. Once we are aware of the underlying root causes, we can begin to observe and take steps to release the stickiness that holds us in this pattern.
Pause for a moment
Now this can be a tricky one... Especially when you are feeling in that overwhelming flutter of thoughts and questions. We often hear people say things like - take a deep breathe or just relax. Sometimes this in itself can feel frustrating. Often I would find it easier to think of this as a pause or a circuit breaker.
If we think of our thoughts and patterns as if they were automatic - like switching on or off a light then we can see how easy it is to delve into the process of thought without thinking twice. Of we become so used to a process that we don't realise that we are there until we are in the thick of it. When we notice that this is occurring we then have the ability to do something about it - even if it is only a momentary pause we are breaking the usual current within that action and therefore build our awareness and disrupt the pattern each time we do this.
Create time and space for yourself
This is an important one (and something I will likely talk about a lot :) ). We often find it so much easier to make time for other people yet struggle to put 5mins in the day aside for ourselves. We fill our lives with busy-ness, social media, work, jobs etc and rarely take time out. The easiest way to start integrating this into our lives is by implementing something small, like awareness and mindfulness in a regular activity. This could be drinking a cup of tea, listening to music on the commute to or from work or placing your phone in the other room or off for an hour.
I hope these ideas are helpful and that perhaps you allow yourself some time today to enjoy a mini break. Any other thoughts or ideas please post.
*just as a reminder anything that you do post is public. Therefore it is important that to ensure that your are feeling ok to do so.
A few weeks ago now someone said something that really resinated for me. The conversation that we were having was based around self-compassion/self-care. We were discussing how this can be a really challenging thing to engage in, as we often fall into the trap of listening to our inner critic which often puts negative pressure on ourselves.
We then explored what it might look like if we were to engage in self compassion and one of the key aspects that was discovered through this exploration was that it is a lot easier to show this compassion from the outside in rather than the inside out. What I mean by that is this...
Doing something nice for ourselves; Spending time with people we care about, having a massage, getting our hair or nails done, doing something that changes our appearance
Self talk; creating awareness of negative self-talk and put downs and changing these to something more positive, mindfulness and meditation, taking time out for ourselves
I am sure that there are some cross overs in that when we do something nice for ourselves on the outside it helps us to feel better on the inside however it would seem that until we acknowledge the importance of taking care of ourselves on the inside there is not a lot of lasting change.
I often wonder why it is that the majority of us are so incredibly hard on ourselves. So much so that we often make ourselves sick or stress. I am curious to find out anyone else's thoughts around this?*
I guess from my own personal experiences and perspective this is something that I continually work on. One of the easiest methods is to implement self compassion and kindness is to act as the observer in a judgemental way, remind myself to take one step at a time and aim to create a little breathing space for myself each day e.g sitting with a cup of tea, listening to music etc.
*Please only share if it is something that you feel comfortable in doing... Thanks Amy
People are often curious as to why I chose to work within this field. My answer to them is that there are a lot of different reasons as to why this area holds interest to me.
During my school years I was often fascinated and caught up in; observations of communication styles, group dynamics, non-verbal communication. Through this, I found that, I constantly felt it important, to question and observe in order to form a deeper meaning and understanding of individuals points of view.
During my adolescent years I remember a constant feeling that I didn’t quite ‘fit the mould’ or ‘belong.’ Like many others, I experienced bullying and felt that it was important to protect myself by becoming quite withdrawn and found that it was difficult not to get caught up in my ‘inner critic self’ messaging around, not being good enough, worthy and therefore afraid to put my ‘real self’ out there. It felt safer to stay small.
I didn’t have the best grades in school as I felt that it was pointless to apply myself or invest too much into my studies incase I ‘failed’- again that inner critic would pipe up and say things like ‘why bother trying… you will likely fail so what is the point anyway.’
Despite this there was a drive that felt stronger than this inner critic, that inspired me to try to understand what the meaning of all this was, and instead of engaging in compensatory behaviours in order to make sense of my experiences, I decided to apply myself to understanding theories of the mind, society and what influences create our realities.
And so it began…
After completing my counselling qualification I decided that I wanted to get some more ‘life experience’ before I start to work in the field. By this time I had had relationship experiences, travelled a little, and had started to piece together an understanding of myself, and what I truly wanted out of life. I decided to apply for an audition to become a High School Dance Teacher – which was my continuing hope and dream of mine. I had a date for audition and more confidence and belief in myself than I previously had. Then, as life often does, a spanner was thrown in the works – I was struck my Epstein-Barr virus (Glandular Fever) which progressed into Chronic Fatigue* for about 18months. Did I mention that I wanted some ‘life experience.’?
This was one of the hardest times that I experienced in my life. I couldn’t dance, I couldn’t do the things I loved. It felt as a dark grey heavy cloud was constantly looming over me. In hindsight (as it is such a wonderful thing), this was also a blessing for me.
There were lots of different things that I tried in order to get my health back on track. I noticed some of my old unhelpful compensatory behaviors sneaking back in, but these were eventually over run by some new aspects that were more of benefit then detriment. Through yoga, continuing study and a need for deeper understanding and meaning in my life, I began to learn to show compassion and acceptance towards myself.
After doing some ‘Google Searching’ around what others found helpful I stumbled across a really helpful perspective –
‘Image your body it like the battery in your phone, if you use it a lot to talk, search online, send messages, email and use social media, then the battery will drain quite quickly. At the end of the day you will need to plug it in the recharge the battery.’
The meaning that this held for me was that, if we are constantly involved in activity, doing things for others, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted about the things on our ‘To Do’ lists or how far we need to be in life in order to be deemed “successful”, then we are constantly emptying the battery. We are not taking care of ourselves. We are not plugging in to the things that help us to feel nourished and energized. We are showing a lack of empathy and compassion towards ourselves. I finally realized the importance of ‘putting yourself first’ (which I think is certainly more difficult to put into action than we imagine).
From this point I continued along the way to understand myself and my experiences through studying yoga, learning more about the differences between self-esteem and self-compassion and connecting in with the aspects of my life that bring me joy and happiness.
I believe that this is a continuous quest, in that we all have experiences of life’s obstacles. I feel that it comes down to our personal decisions of how we would like to face those obstacles and the ability to be able to reach-out for help and support along the way. It is vital to continue to stay connected with the what our inner-selves wants out of life and to learn more about the ways in which we can support ourselves to align our Body-Mind to achieve and maintain this.
* One of the ways in which I describe Chronic Fatigue to people when they ask is that it feels similar to the symptoms of influenza; joint and muscle aches, weakness and an overwhelming sense of constantly needing sleep.