Our Beautiful MindApr 2020
This week has been really challenging for me. On Wednesday morning I needed to have a good talk with myself. I needed to dig deep and pull my resilience up from the souls of my feet. My personal mantra has been 'I am strong, I am resilient and I can do this'.
Our mind is beautiful. It holds so much information and continues to carry at least 60-80,000 thoughts a day. The thoughts we have today, will be the ones we have tomorrow, the week after, the month after and so on. These thoughts will drift in and out of our consciousness. Thoughts will disappear, some will be the same and others will be new. Our thoughts are stored in our mind and over time they turn into memories.
Not all thoughts are turned into a memory, but the thoughts that have feelings attached to them transition into something bigger than a just thought and that's when they become a memory.
Once a thought becomes a memory, then our beautiful mind can influence how we feel. It can take us back to past experiences, good or bad, it can trick us into thinking that what we're experiencing today is exactly what we experienced years ago. It can also determine how we react to situations based upon these memories today and in the future.
Our mind is known as the software of our soul. That software has been programmed since the day we were born, the moment we started to cognitively remember, recognise and feel the experiences we've had. This leaves an imprint, which then creates a pattern that influences our behaviour.
When in times of anxiety, our mind connects with our feelings, it can also connect past experiences, to current experiences which may make you feel like you've been here before. You may even catch yourself saying 'I can't believe this is happening to me again' even though the situation or circumstance is very different.
When in these moments it is difficult to see the true reality, we only see what our memory is telling us to see and feel, and that could be a perception, it could even be an assumption.
Learning to manage your memories, rather than be managed by them is a new programme we need to install in our minds. It allows us to see the truth behind the emotions, it allows us to stop storytelling, exaggerating, adding 2 + 2 together and making 5, and it allows us to really understand what is happening in that moment. It helps us make meaning of the experience and realise that yes, we may have experienced something similar in our past, but this experience is completely new because it is happening now and not then. We will not experience the experience exactly the same. Why? because we have evolved and who we are now is not who we were then.
Becoming a compassionate observer of self, means you need to pay attention to the words you are using, and the words that are describing how you're feeling. You have to challenge your mind, memories and feelings. When you challenge you do this compassionately. But before you can do this, you need to trust yourself and trust that you can change how you feel and what you think. Remembering that you can control your memories and they do not control you.
The skills you need to cultivate are:
1.Listen to your truth - listen at a deeper level, go beyond the surface level of listening, and listen deep within you. Hear what your inner truth is telling you.
2.Cultivate your curiosity - develop your questioning skills that will lead to deepening your awareness of self. Ask yourself what is it about this situation, that's making me behave this way? What can I do differently? Is this the truth or is this my perception/assumption?
3.Learn to reframe - give yourself permission to see the experience, situation or event from a different perspective. Move yourself into an empowered state of mind rather than one of hopelessness or feeling stuck.
4.Remember you have a choice, there is always a choice to be made in everything in life, in every situation, you can have a choice. Remember to check in with yourself and remind yourself 'I can choose to feel differently, I can choose to have a different experience, I can choose in the moment what is my reality'.
On Wednesday when I had my most recent moment of anxiety, I did the below exercise and within 5 minutes my anxiety shifted. I chose after a lot of deep breaths, to be a compassionate observer of self and reframe my situation.
T: Take three deep breaths
O: Observe yourself
P: Proceed with awareness and compassion
As we move into our forth week of lock-down I invite you, when next faced with your own moment of anxiety, to follow the S.T.O.P model and I hope that it helps you in the same way it did me this week.