People all over the world think that the opposite of love is hate. Nope. It's indifference. If a kid is not getting enough attention from their parent then they will act up because attention of ANY kind is better than the dreaded NOTHING!! To have people look past you as if you don't matter is a fate worse than death. Connection matters. It is a basic need. Some need more connection than others but, extrovert or introvert, we all need it. And yet, when people are depressed, their instinct, often, is to withdraw. That is because the puss in the wound of depression is debilitating low self-esteem and they fear that others will think the same awful things that they are thinking. And sometimes the negative things are true. Sometimes people will avoid tasks or situations because they fear a negative outcome and then the avoidance creates the very thing they feared in the first place. : ( How does one pull themselves out of that negative spiral? Firstly....know that you are not alone. I've worked in the mental health field for 24 years and I've live twice that long as a person. What I've learned is that EVERYONE has 'stuff'. This 'I'm completely fine and have no issues' and 'if you were doing it 'right' neither would you' culture that we live in is perpetuating a shame that doesn't allow for brokenness and the wisdom that comes from it. We are all broken in some ways. If we were so healthy and everyone was so 'FINE' then we would hear and see people being kinder to each other. Really kind.....not two faced kind. We would all feel safer to show our bad days on facebook and instagram because there would be a combination of true compassion for each other and a containment of the negative story so that joy and positive experiences can win and fill our minds and our experience. It's hard to stay separate from all the critical messages in our society. I struggle with it and I teach this stuff!! It's like swimming up stream. So I think the increase in mental health issues is a result of a cultural breakdown and awareness of how important it is to continue to practice the skills that we teach to our young children. We all matter. Our spirits matter. Talk to yourself kindly. Talk to others kindly. If they have let you down then name that and tell them how it has impacted you but stay away from labelling them in hurtful ways about their spirit. It doesn't serve us or them when we call people names. This week is the Bell Let's Talk campaign for mental health. I heard the brilliant Clara Hughes talking about her struggles on CBC. The more we all admit that we are fabulous and we struggle at the same time, the healthier it is for everyone. Let's stop pretending and start be mindful of reaching out towards each other in love, kindness and compassion as the attitude we perpetuate towards ourselves and others.
Be gentle with your spirit and with other's spirits. We all matter and this ride is hard enough as it is.
So a lot of people have their minds south of the border today. Seems there's a new president going to be running the show. And even if we have feelings and thoughts about that, the fact is, it's outside of our control. This is when it is helpful to practice the discipline of noticing, naming and containing. Is it wrong to think about this? No. However, our mental health increases dramatically when we are focused on what is within our control and when our positive thoughts outweigh the negative. So, my recommendation is for you to notice if you are upset about something, name what your issue is about it and get heard by someone (or validate your own reality by journalling) and then switch to what IS within your control and is more positive. So today I decided to think about the positive influence that Ellen Degeneres is having on the world. She just won her 20th People's Choice Award. I believe that it's because she focuses on love and kindness as her way of going about being in the world and everyone needs more of that. So the inside of my head went kind of like this in picture form....
That's mindfulness....notice, decide...choose....repeat!!!
So every January the gym I go to gets so busy that often I find myself walking from the far end of the parking lot instead of nearer the front door. That is.....until about half way or towards the end of January and then the people who are trying to create a new habit stop showing up as much as they had hoped to. These are the days of the 'New Year's Resolutions'. People (including myself) head into them with deep convictions that they will lose weight, get fit, be on time more, stop smoking etc etc. And when they veer off track the self criticism can be so high that there is no incentive to try. It's like choosing to go back to public school and the teachers are still allowed to use the whip if you make a mistake! So....an alternative to a New Year's Resolution is to be 'mindful' of that area of your life that is difficult for you to control. The difference is in your attitude. If your intention is to eat less and you find yourself gorging on junk food and cake, then switch your thinking from "What an idiot I am", "I have no self-control" to "Hmmmm.....that's interesting" "I wonder what triggered me that caused me to do that?" "I wonder what would calm me so that I don't keep choosing that?". None of us changes as a result of fear or intimidation. This point is true internally as well as when we are relating to others. So if there are changes that you want to make in the New Year......choose instead to be mindful of your behaviours and learn what triggers you and what you might need to prevent you from gravitating towards the unhelpful behaviour. I believe that if you show up in life you should get an 'A'. We all make mistakes and in learning new skills and habits, you won't do it perfectly. Mindfulness in it's most simplistic form is to show up, notice, choose and repeat. If you didn't make the choice that you wanted to make then something probably triggered you to not show up and consciously choose. Forgive yourself. Learn from it, put in new strategies and try again. Don't quit because you are tired of disappointing yourself because that's the part that you have the ability to control and change! You deserve an attitude of kindness towards yourself and it seems that when we are at the beginning of developing a new skill, we are always hardest on ourselves. Remember: One day at a time.....and you always get an "A".
This song by Karen Drucker says it all. If you were to have this song as an earworm in your head, I guarantee your day will go better! Enjoy!
So I said I would write blog posts about mindfulness for 2017. But what the heck does that even mean? I mean, seriously, sometimes I can be so busy being mindful that I miss the point of being IN MY LIFE!!! And I don't think I'm alone either. The other day I met with a friend. We're going to have a mindfulness day to raise a little bit of money for our church. I suggested that after our talk on mindfulness that we go for a walk and put some of it into practice. Her response was "but we can chat too right?". Of course!! I think that's part of the problem with social media. There are so many images of mindfulness and people meditating that people equate the two. To be mindful is to meditate is the misconception. Wrong. The actual Wikipedia definition of mindfulness is that Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. So mindfulness is just noticing. Noticing and choosing. Meditation is just one way of training the mind to notice. And it it is just another thing to squeeze into your day then that misses the point. The point is to learn to notice what you are thinking about and choose what you WANT to be thinking about. Notice how you are behaving and CHOOSE your responses. Notice your feelings and validate them and then choose how much attention you want to pay to them vs. being mindful of other things in your day. So on our mindfulness day we are going to just chat and visit for half the walk and notice nature and beauty and sounds and colours on the other half. There is no wrong.,,,,just being consciously choiceful.
So mindfulness can look like this.....
..or whatever you decide you want that day, that moment, in your life. And on that note....I'm mindful of my time and going to say goodbye until next week because I don't want to be late for my next appointment! Be Well.