Dealing with Negative Thoughts

Image from DTSL

Image from DTSL

“By means of personal experimentation and observation, we can discover certain simple and universal truths. The mind moves the body, and the body follows the mind. Logically then, negative thought patterns harm not only the mind but also the body. What we actually do builds up to affect the subconscious mind and in turn affects the conscious mind and all reactions.” 
~ H.E. Davey, Japanese Yoga: The Way of Dynamic Meditation

Negative thoughts. We all have them. The question is, what to do about them?

(And please note, I’m not talking about addiction or mental illness here. Addiction and mental illness is a whole other ballgame, requiring specialised treatment.)

I’m naturally an optimistic person. Or at least I’ve become that way over time. I choose to look for the silver lining, to focus on the positive… I thought I had pretty much eliminated negative self talk, and that I had healthy self esteem.

So it was distressing for me when, without warning, I began to have a barrage of negative thoughts. Their cause? One of the drugs I was taking for my Lyme treatment. Suddenly I was anxious, negative and self-loathing.

Of course it was the drugs. My doctor had warned me about these possible side effects. ‘Nicole,’ I would say to myself, ‘this isn’t how you really feel, it’s the drugs.’ If things got really bad I would ring my wonderful sister who would also reiterate that, yes, I was feeling this way because of the drugs.

But knowing it was the drugs wasn’t helping. Those feelings just weren’t going away.

I tried ignoring them, but the more I ignored them the louder they got.

It was horrible.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter WHERE the feeling comes from. What matters is that you’re experiencing it.

Maybe it’s a voice from our past, someone from our life who judged us or was less than supportive. Maybe it’s our own sabotaging behaviour, our fears or doubts. Maybe we’re exhausted and today everything just seems harder.

Sometimes the thoughts and emotions are generated by disease, toxins, chemical or hormonal imbalances, or good old-fashioned stress and overload.

Wherever the thoughts come from, they sound like this:

No-one likes you.

You’ll never be successful.

You’re ugly.

You’re fat.

You’re useless.

You’re stupid.

He’ll leave you.

You’re not good enough.

This won’t work.

You’re a failure.

This is going to be a disaster, like everything else you’ve done.

Why do you even bother?

You’re such a loser.

Of course, these thoughts often turned up when I was trying to do something; sticking to my diet, taking my meds, writing, thinking about the future once I began to regain my health.

These negative voices would stop me in my tracks. Which is pretty much what negative self talk is designed to do.

A friend shared this technique with me, and it has worked brilliantly well.

When a negative thought turns up, schedule it for later. Like this:

10am and I’m working on my blog…

Negative Thought: Why do you bother? This is such a colossal waste of time. No-one actually reads this crap. You’re not even a good writer.

Me: Hello, Negative Thought. I’m busy right now. But I promise I’ll give you my undivided attention at 5 o’clock this afternoon. Okay? See you then.

Negative Thought: But, we need to talk NOW.

Me: Nup, sorry. I’m busy. Come back at 5.

11am and I’m watching TV…

Negative Thought: No words, just a sense of suffocating doom.

Me: *sighs* Go Away. Five. I’ll deal with you at Five.

Negative Thought: Doom, doom, doom.

Me: Leave me ALONE!!! You’re interrupting my show. I said I’ll talk to you at Five. Later, okay?

Midday, and I’m making a healthy lunch…

Negative Thought: Why don’t you just eat chips? You’re so fat anyway and this salad crap won’t make any difference, porky. Chips!!! Chips are easy. Chips are good.

Me: I’m sorry, Negative Thought. No time for you right now. I’m making salad. Come back at 5.05pm and you can tell me all about it. I promise to listen to everything you say.

Negative Thought: Grumble, Grumble, Grumble, CHIPS!!!!

Me: See you this afternoon.

2pm and I’m trying to take a nap…

Negative Thought: You’re so lazy. You’re just faking it. Anyway, this treatment isn’t working. You’ll never be well. You’re a total loser. Everyone is so ashamed of you. You’re pathetic.

Me, through gritted teeth: Ten past five. Get in the queue. I’ll deal with this later.

Negative Thought: Sure, Loser. Have a nice nap. I look forward to our chat.

Me: Great 🙁

And that’s what I did. I kept telling my negative thoughts that I acknowledged them, but I would deal with them later.

Just before five that afternoon I sat down in my lounge, expecting that the waiting room for my Negative Thoughts would soon be crammed full.

In fact, I waited and waited.

No-one showed up at all.

Negative thoughts have no endurance. They want instant gratification. They need to engage you and feed off you in order to stick around.

I found myself in a quiet room, with only me for company.

A Negative Thought did show up once, but the conversation it delivered had no oomph. It sounded like a pre-recorded message of all of the worst, most unoriginal cliches. The negative talk had scant impact on me, especially since I was no longer involved in the task it had been complaining about. Honestly, it all sounded a little ridiculous. Less than five minutes and we were done. And I came out the winner.

My dear friend, Leesa, also suggests: “Another thing to do in case they do show up is to say ‘I’ll give you 5 minutes at 5 o’clock.’ Set a timer and get up and do something that requires concentration when the time is up. The thoughts have to wait until the next day at 5 o’clock again.”

Telling my thoughts to wait, and that I’ll get back to them, has been the singular best coping mechanism I’ve had for negative thoughts and negative self-talk.

It has allowed me to keep focusing on what I need to, undistracted by these white-anting thoughts that erode my stability and self-worth.

I’m through the worst of my treatment now, and life is looking up.

The less-than-positive thoughts I may have from time to time are much more likely to be my own old patterning. Still, I keep making dates with these thoughts. And they keep standing me up.

It gives me time for quiet reflection each day.

It gives me a chance to enjoy the view.

Maybe you might benefit from this technique too. 🙂 The more you work with this technique the easier it gets, and the weaker those thoughts become.

You are valuable and worthy, and this negative talk IS NOT YOU!!! Don’t let it define you, or steal your joy and the energy you want to put into your life.

Above all, if it gets overwhelming, ask for help. It’s your life. You get to be in charge. So take the power back from those negative thoughts. If the thoughts are BIG and it’s hard to stable them in one corner (like with addiction or mental illness) then pull out the big guns – commit to a program or course of action and find yourself a team of trained helpers and supporters to get you through.

You deserve happiness and peace of mind.

I’m thinking of you, and sending love. ♥ Nicole xx

Image from 8tracks

Image from 8tracks

Thoughts on Housekeeping

housewife

If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, “Who could have done this? We have no enemies.” ~ Phyllis Diller

I’m finally home at my beautiful farm. We arrived early yesterday  morning, and I enjoyed a whole sunshiny day at home, doing homey kinds of things.

I’d kept my diary clear – no work, no outings, no visits from friends, no schedule of any kind. Why? I’ve just started Week Three of the week on, week off meds regime that just about floored me a fortnight ago. I was truly expecting that yesterday would be a total horror.

And then it wasn’t.

It’s an interesting thing, housework. Most of us hate it, resent it, and would rather be doing anything else. And yes, at times I can put my hand up and say ‘me too!’ to that school of thought.

But yesterday it was a pleasure to put a load of washing on and hang it out in the sunshine, to tidy up here and there, cut fresh flowers for the house, burn a little incense, play my favourite music, bake fruit cakes and cook up a big pot of soup.

Mine was a leisurely, moodle-y kind of day, and I thoroughly enjoyed playing house.

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It was prescient too, because by nightfall the drugs had kicked in and I was feeling less than flash. And it’s been all downhill from there. But at least my home is tidy, the washing’s done, I have clean sheets on the bed that smell of sunshine and fresh air, there’s cake in the tin, soup in the pot, and I have fragrant blooms by my bedside.

From a Feng Shui point of view, it’s energetically a good thing to clear your clutter and let your home or office space be clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing.

Creatively, emotionally and psychically sensitive people are all deeply affected by their environments too.

But even more interestingly, there are neurological studies that show people with depression and anxiety respond well to task completion where there is satisfaction or pleasure from having got the job done. It’s therapeutic for us to see an end result and to have been a major factor in that result – especially tasks that require physical involvement and that we enjoy.  Pleasant tasks or tasks that result in a feeling of accomplishment bring us emotional comfort and the increased activity level helps ward off or decrease depressive episodes. Creativity and positive new thought patterns are stimulated.

Housekeeping is also an act of self care, self love and self nurture.

Think about it. Haven’t there been times when performing routine or maintenance tasks such as cleaning the house, cooking, gardening, putting a set of bookshelves together, painting a piece of furniture or finishing some bookwork has put you into a better emotional space? Or given rise to a fresh idea or a solution to a problem?

Image from www.devivohomes.com

Image from www.devivohomes.com

If the thought of housework right now leaves you cold then take a look at your life:

  1. Are you getting enough rest? Exhaustion and housework don’t mix. Everything is an uphill battle when you’re exhausted or unwell. And what takes you six hours when you’re tired or unwell will usually only take one (or even less) when you’re firing on all cylinders again. Rest and recovery need to always be your first priority.
  2. Do you have any time for yourself and for your own interests? If there are other interests and activities that call you, find someone else to do that housework. A clean house feels good no matter who cleaned it!
  3. Do you actually schedule ‘down time’ and ‘maintenance time’, or are you just playing wishful thinking, expecting that somewhere in your crazy schedule, after all the other work is done, the housework will just miraculously happen?
  4. Can you get help with the tasks that are too hard or that you don’t enjoy or have time for? That way you’ll have more time for the tasks you DO enjoy.
  5. Can you get someone in to get it sorted for you, so that you can more easily keep it that way?
  6. Is there someone sharing your space who needs to pull their own weight here? We end up resentful, angry and exhausted when we’re always doing for others with no help, thanks or time left for ourselves.

Housework doesn’t have to be all misery and agony. But if it is, find ways to make it easier or get some help. A clean, comfortable home is an important refuge in this crazy world!

Christmas as a Meditation on Kindness

Image from www.growingleaders.com

Image from www.growingleaders.com

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” 
~ Mother Teresa

Christmas is such a crazy time – as much as it can be filled with fun and family and wonder, it can be equally a time of stress, loneliness, hardship, emotional buffeting and misery.

That makes it a perfect exercise for practicing kindness.

This Christmas why not choose to see the day, or the season, as a meditation on kindness. You’ll find that not only will this have positive benefits for you and your own state of mind, the benefits of this practice will also flow out to the world around you.

How to Begin

Start by making a decision to be kind to yourself. Accept that you may have feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, anger or overwhelm, that you may have your buttons pushed by the people around you – especially family. Create the intention that just for these few hours you will treat yourself with kindness and compassion – that you will allow the unwanted feelings and emotions to wash over you like a momentary cloud passing through a sunny sky, rather than letting them take root and grow. Remind yourself often to come back into your heart, and live from a place of love.

Image from www.weheartit.com

Image from www.weheartit.com

How to Flow Kindness to Others

As you meet people through out the day, remember that they may be also experiencing emotions of stress, loneliness, sorrow, grief, worry, overwhelm, anxiety or despair. Smile from your heart – let kindness build a bridge of understanding between you…

In your mind, wish that person well.  Flow good feelings towards them. Keep smiling.

Sometimes you’ll end up in social situations where people’s moods or behaviours may affect your own positive emotional state.  That’s okay.  Begin by sitting in awareness of how the troubles within the other person’s mind may make them act in ways that reveal their inner turmoil and isolation. Instead of being triggered into negative emotions or behaviours yourself, have compassion for their struggle or attitude.  Let it wash over you like a cloud passing overhead on a sunny day. Disconnect from your need to engage in their drama.  Smile, offer words and acts of kindness, or quietly remove yourself from the situation and maintain your own emotional calm and balance.

Kindness-Quotes-Too-often-we-underestimate-the-power-of-a-touch-a-smile-a-kind-word-a-listening-ear-an-honest-compliment-or-the-smallest-act-of-caring

 

And if you’re game, I have a Christmas Kindness Challenge for you:

The Art of Bliss Bombing

This is a gorgeous activity, and one of my favourites. Take yourself to a public place, like a mall, coffee shop, or a bench in a park near where people are walking by.  (If you are up to it, do this at the family Christmas gathering!) Sit somewhere unobtrusive.  When someone walks past, shoot a radiant shower of golden sparks from your heart to theirs and silently bless them with love.  You can even send joy and love from your heart to trees, animals, plants, bus-loads of commuters and overhead planes.  You might  want to say to yourself, “I bless you with love.  Know joy today.”  If anyone catches your eye, just smile.

beautiful-hearts-larissa-ferreira-sky-Favim.com-209808

Feel your open heart begin to tingle with energy and joy.  In that place of energetic connection look around you at the world and you will see that it IS brighter and more beautiful because of YOU.

Today you have acted as an Earth Angel.  Your Lightwork has helped contribute to our energetic abundance.

It’s okay to let your face crack open from smiling!  Thank the Universe for this amazing experience we call life.  Expect an outpouring of feel-good emotion. ♥ Don’t be at all surprised at how the Universe will mirror your love and energetic abundance back to you as you become more and more magnetic to the flow of good and grace.

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com

Image from www.angelsaroundusinfo.com

Sometimes Your Only Job is to Ask for Help

Image from lingualift.com

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem. ~ Virginia Satir

I have a friend going through a tough time right now. For her everything seems to be going wrong. There are substance abuse issues, and she thought by cleaning up and getting that out of the picture, somehow everything would be fixed.  But the addictions only masked pain, hidden traumas, and a deep inability to cope with problems from the past.

We all have our strengths, and we all have our breaking points.  What cripples me might be a walk in the park for you. Still, comparing ourselves to others never helps.

When you have gotten to a place in your life where something isn’t working, where nothing is working, where you feel backed into a corner, helpless, weak, angry, resentful, disempowered or worse – when your self esteem is through the floor and you just can’t think straight anymore…

YOUR ONLY JOB IS TO ASK FOR HELP

IF you could have fixed it, if you’d known what to do, you would have done it.  The pain you’re in is because you DON’T know how to help yourself.

That’s okay.

YOUR ONLY JOB IS TO ASK FOR HELP

There are so many wonderful people in the world who have trained specifically to help you with your problem. They may have even been in your shoes.

When you’re this far down, and you are just not coping, there is someone out there who will know what to do.  Reach out you hand.  Ask.

Whether it will be a quick fix, or something that takes time to sort out, you don’t need to know what the answer is, you only need to know that someone else will. Whatever you are going through, someone else has walked that road before you.  And one of them will have a map to get you out of there. In fact, it’s probably their calling.

One day, it might be yours.

‘Pebbles for your pocket’ meditation – a simple way to create inner peace

There is a short meditation I make part of my regular practice.  It involves the selection of four stones or pebbles, and then a simple reflection activity for each stone.  Often I will go for a walk first, and select four stones from the beach or the fields.  I’ve even managed to find four pebbles walking along a suburban sidewalk.

Sometimes I will select four tumbled crystals from my collection, using the energetic qualities or colours of the stones to further enhance my experience.  This is a lovely way for crystal lovers to find a practical use for their stones.

I then do a  five-minute meditation with my chosen stones, and for the rest of the day I carry those four stones with me in my pocket, to remind me of what I have practised in my morning meditation.

(In my pocket today I have citrine for Freshness, rough fluorite for Solidity, clear quartz for Clarity and amethyst for Freedom.♥)

Watch this short video by Thich Nhat Hanh to see how the stones are used in meditation.  You may want to choose your stones first, and then follow along.  Once you’ve done this a few times, and remember what the stones stand for, it’s a simple practice you can do anywhere, which creates a great feeling of peace and calm.