So I came across this great quote the other day about worry. That worrying about the things that haven’t happened is somewhat pointless. But it got me thinking about the information I come across in social and my training, that in the end a lot of it comes down to awareness and decisions about thought.
The big divide – ‘If it was as simple as choosing thought, as deciding not to be depressed, deciding not to feel anger or grief or complete despair with life then don’t you think I would have.’
Many of you out there that have or are working with your own mental health challenges or even just strong emotions are probably smiling. This statement is true right? And you are tired of all the self-help content, therapists, and family and friends telling you just to cheer up. That things will be ok. What have you got to be worried about, or unhappy about. Well I agree with you and you should be tired of it, it adds to the burden with shame for feeling the way you do, and creates an almost complete sense of failure for not being able to change it no matter what you try.
So, you are close to or at rock bottom. The glimpses you catch of your own self-pity add further to the shame, and perhaps you also wonder why people even bother as you don’t even see yourself what you may have to offer.
We could spend time connecting the common behaviours to a spiral down like above.. Self-soothing, addictions/obsessions, weight loss or gain, insomnia, isolation etc etc. But let’s not since you have google and most people with or without lived experience hopefully have an appreciation.
Awareness and decision about thoughts. So this is not a free pass to challenge people that may be having a hard time. This is for those who are working on negative emotions and or mental health. And for others to reflect on.
- There is a point at which you will notice the thought. You may connect with the thought itself, or you may notice a feeling, an emotion or a body sensation instead. But in us all, there is a signal which we can choose to grow our awareness of when it comes to negative thoughts/feelings/emotions. I encourage you to spend some time locating yours, and there may be a few.
- Once you have it there are some practices you can do to grow awareness. Personally I am still a fan of meditation as my tool of choice for creating space and developing strength of mind. There are other simpler approaches too though, like straight out pause and reflection/awareness activities.
- Last is the tough part. And this is the bit that I think most people don’t really understand. And if you will allow me to be a little real and confronting – I think this is the bit that many who are struggling just refuse to engage with. There is no quick fix and choosing to shut down a negative thought/emotion takes a lot of hard work and practice. You won’t get it the first time.. Or for a while perhaps… but how about we measure success in you noticing it, that you tried, that you managed to change the thought once today, or this week. Perhaps you noticed anger or hatred arising and moved it to calm and acceptance just for a bit. Measure that you are trying. Measure success in getting out of bed when you felt like pulling the covers back over. That you went for a walk, ate well etc, all the supporting activities that will help with resilience and perseverance.
Choosing to be happy is not just a decision. It is a thousand or more decisions that can start today.