I often find my mood dipping. It happens quickly. At times it’s when I get carried away in little hostile court case in my head about people or situations. Just takes something small to trigger my ego, can be some unknown like why no text or email response from a client, next thing I’m off inventing a whole story in my head. ‘Imaging an enemy when there isn’t one will steal your inner treasure’ the IChing says.
If there isn’t information and clarity available, I notice that my head will just fill in the blanks with its own version from my imagination. And it’s usually along the lines of some imagined unfriendly act or self doubt -comparison, concluding either ‘they are less, I’m better’ or ‘I’m less, they are better’. All fear and insecurity based.
Or my risk assessing/situation-predicting head is doing it’s job well and locating potential dangers for me in my environment. That’s another ripe opportunity for a big anxiety inducing story. Can be anything from health to money, some danger I haven’t anticipated that will catch me out if I let down my guard. I have spent a lot of my life in a state of heightened alert as a result. I’ve had to learn to calm down and now these uncomfortable feelings serve as an alarm to me.
The discomfort inside is an indicator, a loud uncomfortable CLANG that kindness and caring and self nurturing is being asked for. This work is hard, in the sense that it’s relentless and requires vigilance. The old ground (of the ego’s domain) is constantly on the lookout for ways to discard the new unfamiliar ground and get back to familiarity. It can look like self sabotage, so just noticing, trusting and knowing that it all takes patience.
It’s like developing a unique recipe for baking a cake, and playing about with choosing the right ingredients. And each person’s recipe is a unique combination of ingredients and in varying quantities depending on their own conditions of arrival at this point. Here’s some of the ingredients of my recipe which I’m constantly adding to:
I choose to love myself, and to include myself in the love and compassion I feel so easily for others. I practise exercises daily and weekly that help me retrain and replace my previous conditioning of self rejection with new habits – the message that I am lovable and I am good enough. Even if it felt fake at first, that doesn’t last and I am getting comfy with this. I can now say I love you in the mirror and mean it.
I choose to remember regularly to breath from my belly. I put a hand on my stomach and watch it rise and fall, this way I know I’m doing it correctly. This retrains the body’s autonomic nervous system away from anxiety and fight/flight mode if I catch it early enough.
I choose to witness how supported I am in life. Just looking around me right now or any moment in this room, I experience warmth, shelter, light, music, comfort, beauty, safety.
I choose to remember what is working in my life. This body carries me around, a car that works, a dog that is a delight, a park nearby to walk and appreciate nature in, some good friends, lots of education opportunities online….this is a nearly endless list I remind myself of often.
I choose to exercise courage and open to uncertainty in life. It’s been one big lesson in uncertainty these covid times, and I take action to feel grounded within the whirling storm of that. Grounding exercises using senses. Feeling bum on the seat, feeling feet on the ground. Hearing the sounds, the smells, tastes. What do I see out of my eyes right now. In this present moment I have discovered I am 99.9% of the time always safe.
I choose to use and treat my attention as the precious commodity that it is. I limit my news and media intake to nearly zero. This behaviour experiment started a month ago and I’m noticeably less stressed. Instead I focus elsewhere. I refuse all adverts. (Money well spent – a YouTube subscription)
I choose to drop those who bring strife and drama with them into my life. Albeit they normally get at least 10 lives, eventually it creates too much of a conflict of goals. I value harmony, peace and joy, they don’t if they are being vexatious repeatedly. Simple.
I choose to notice my addiction to irritation, anger, fear and drama, to the old patterns of anxiety and the rush of cortisol and Adrenalin they bring, that familiar tightening and closing up feeling, the holding of the breath, the fear of happiness, fear of relaxing, fear of freedom. The sense that happiness is unsafe. And I choose to kindly be patient with these defence systems developed at one time to protect me. I pay respect and thank them. Takes a while to realise they are not needed now, takes a direct repeated experiencing that I am safe without them.
I choose to give everyone I meet a positive experience in some way if I have the opportunity. I like to add to the ideas that life is good, people can be trusted and they themselves are valued. I try to be a good boss and remember to say thank you and well done to employees often and demonstrate an interest in their well-being. I might ask the postman what kind of day he’s having, or tell people I’m passing in the park that I love their outfit, or say to the checkout girl she has a beautiful voice. If Im thinking it, why not just share it.
I choose to write here to help organise my thoughts which get jumbled at times, often actually. And it helps me see what I’ve learned. It helps me feel if I’m being authentic or just trying to sound clever. It helps motivate me too sometimes.
I chose to be aware of my limits and what I’m not good at and the mistakes I have made and still make. I choose to be okay with that. I forgive myself quickly and allow myself to not be great at some things and incompetent at others. That’s been important running a business. I make sure I’m also aware of what I’m good at and have learned to play to my strengths.
I chose to start the day by out loud tune ‘da-da da-da dadadadadadaing’ the tune to the A-Team. It sets the tone of the day that whatever happens I’m up for it. And it’s quite funny and a bit ridiculous which is amusing. The dog loves it and wags her tail in excitement. If I’m feeling either great or low, some mornings I put on some 70s disco music and dance freely and grin at my total lack of dignity and admire my body’s ability to come up with such strange unexpected moves some are even pretty cool.
I choose to submerge myself in nature, where my ego has no business at all. The wild things are indifferent to me, and I can just be with them. Feeling the unity as part of all life on this planet together. I savour the beauty of the design in nature and feel grateful for it. I let it enter me and I enter it, and savour the experience of no separation.
I choose to ask for help when I need it. I have had periodic batches of therapy sessions since my 20s and coaching sessions and business mentors too. I have used apps when I’ve wanted to change unhealthy habits or develop new ones. I welcome support when I feel stuck or overwhelmed. I go to sleep every night listening to a Tara Brach talk.
I choose to exercise in a way that is enjoyable to me and that benefits my body, I walk 4-5 miles most days and go cycling regularly.
I choose to enjoy mundane tasks when I remember to and usually discover that nothing is mundane. The way my body coordinates and works amazes me, the way the cloth cleans the mud and the mop clears the dirt and leaves a clean floor delights me. I love the feel of warm water on my skin in the shower. I enjoy getting into a bed of newly washed fresh bed linen. I am nurtured by watering my plants and watching them thrive. Emptying the dishwasher of sparkling clean dishes is a joy. Loving the dog and feeling it back is heart warming.
I choose to congratulate myself at the end of a difficult work task and getting through something less enjoyable. Or dealing politely and kindly with a difficult design client. or successfully assisting a therapy client out of their depression and anxiety to a new sense of freedom and joy in life. And the relentlessness of managing a business all on my own for all these years and managing to keep it going through multiple adversities. Well done me.
I choose to forgive when I haven’t got it right. The mistakes made with my son’s upbringing, the business not doing as well as it could due to my lack of skills and qualities for business, the times I’ve been impatient or rude with people, the times I’ve spent unnecessary money I could have saved. And day to day, the unfriendly thoughts I have about others, about myself. And let’s just add in every negative human quality possible as I have them all in some quantity. Selfishness, jealousy, cruelty, hatred, greed, indulgence, laziness, manipulative and the rest, all present and noted in here. I continue to forgive it all, embracing it as part of the whole experience of life.
I choose to fully welcome success. Winning through challenges, winning with wealth, with relationships and with happiness. I’ve spent a lifetime being afraid of success in all these areas. I feel compassion for the part that was more secure in her prison. Now I am open to a whole new adventure. I am curious and I trust myself with it now and I’m able to feel the fear and do it anyway. I choose to raise my inner thermostat and allow in more love, joy, wealth.