DISCLAIMER ABOUT THE REALITY OF THE BLOG YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ
In all honesty I’ve been inspired. I have been on an unsustainable high. I have had this blog pulled up on my computer for at least ten days. I feel like I have something to share finally – something to give – at last. I feel mentally healthy enough to offer something to the world that I hope will be of use. It is possible I have had this in me for a year, but this is more consistent than other years, more content than I’ve felt before… and then Friday (yesterday) happened and I couldn’t find an ounce of hope for my day. Imposter syndrome. Why do you think you can aid and inspire others when you feel so low?
I felt something shift on Wednesday, ‘hopefully I’m just tired, maybe getting sick.’ It was at a 4/10 and in a blink of an eye it was 9/10 and then it was Friday and everything felt wrong. Logistically nothing had changed, and there was not a source in sight to why I was feeling so worthless, so hurt.
Now even a few hours in, I start processing further and deeper, you don’t want this feeling for the whole day. What’s going to help you shift this energy? But I feel empty… nothing to give to myself. Don’t eat my mind’s telling me… you feel empty and food is only a bandaid for vacancy, be empty. My minds looping on the past thoughts I wish were not apart of me, looping on the future that I cannot control. I meditate, tears are streaming down my face, I reach out and share all my feelings, I go running, and still my thoughts are begging me to just lay in bed and feel bad for myself. I guess that is still the familiar place, the comfort zone.
Man, for so many years I just took energy out of myself constantly and it became so habitual. When I finally start transitioning out of that feeling (that I had for years) everything changed, but my mind still likes to convince me that I belong there. Depression knocks on the back door and demands to be let in – makes me believe it is my most loyal companion. But It’s Saturday now and although it is still gray outside the clouds in my head have subsided. I definitely don’t feel the tingley ‘this happiness is unfair’ bliss high tide that I have felt for weeks, but I also feel the hope that those days are soon to come again and that is more than I can say for yesterday.
I do sometimes feel conflicted about talking to people about mental rewiring because I still have bad days. I am aware that the dark days are much less frequent than they once were and that’s enough for me to keep trying.
TOOLS FOR REWIRING YOUR THOUGHT PATTERNS
I am about four years into a journey of self discovery and self growth. I don’t think I realized how dark my mind was before I began the journey. I used to be able to create narratives in my head about why I had it so bad, how I hated my life and family circumstances, how I hated people. I hated how they talked, acted, and I really could not help but look at life as glass half empty all the time. I was resentful, I was depressed, I was addicted to anything that distracted me from my mind. I felt miserable. I was suffering so much without even being aware of it. There have been so many transformative events in the past years that have all brought me to where I am now, which is the most content I have ever been. I now know that everything in life is temporary and the only constant is change, that all of my feelings are impermanent, even the undercurrent of joy I feel so attached too will someday not be there.
I felt inspired lately to share the tool box that has been so instrumental in my growth as a persense on this planet. These are the practices I have reached to in the past when I was stuck that I have now integrated as routines in my life.
This started for me in 2012 when traveling and it was all about events. It felt easy to write about events and situations. The transition from journaling about how I feel took longer for me than my original journal habits because It required more thought, more awareness and reflection. How did that event/ situation make me feel? Why? A friend of mine even said she used to write her problem down on one page, reread it and then give herself advice on her own problem. You gain a lot of perspective when you can unravel a ball of yarn of thoughts and emotions onto a piece of paper. I find it incredibly helpful when I’m trying to work through feeling stuck or reactive to take at least three deep breaths with my eyes closed and then just start to let the pen move, Rachel Brathen calls this ‘conscious stream journaling.’ This is a great method to use If you are trying to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily life.
As soon as I watched the Ted Talk ‘Your body language might shape who you are’ by Amy Cuddy (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fake+it+till+you+become+it+ted+talk)(@claire) I felt my life changed. I have a decent amount of self doubts and inadequacies that arise in new situations or environments, but when I hold my physical body up in certain ways it actually changes the way people respond to my presence and how I interpret my own being. Just in this last couple weeks I’ve really been mindful about pinching my shoulder blades, not touching my mouth/ face/ or hair, keeping my hands out of my pockets. Sometimes this feels unnatural because of our natural tendencies to make ourselves smaller, but I highly suggest watching this video, and practicing some power poses this week and seeing how it effects you!
There is soooo much to be grateful for every single day, but we are conditioned not to tap into that place as often as we should. Start small with three things a day maybe when you first wake up or before sleep. After enough time you’ll start to place more and more on the list – making you even wonder what could you be ungrateful for. I love doing this with family and friends, hearing other people’s appreciation and just sharing really high frequencies. I also understand from personal experience it is easy to acknowledge the things you are grateful or appreciative of without really processing or feeling that internal gratitude. Similar to in posture, continue to practice even if it feels disingenuous and eventually it will feel pure.
I have sought out so many different atmospheres seeking self growth. The most successful ones I have found to be yoga studios, any type of A.A./ N.A./ AlAnon/ etc, or other fitness facilities that have core values of unity and community. These are personal to me, but are also overall great places to start. This is huge. Who you are around today helps determine where you will be in five years. It took me a long time to understand the value of surrounding myself with people who I look up to, who embody qualities I want, who radiate with goodness and truth. The sentiment of feeling alone in a room full of people is a very real reality until you find your people. Whatever interests you, whatever your passions are, find like minded people that bring a sense of belonging into your soul. People you can share the good days and bad days with. Quality will always outdo quantity. Make it a point to find your people in this life, everyone is both a student and a teacher.
This has a huge effect on where my energy levels are at, which directly correlates to my emotional reactions throughout the day. If I sleep poorly or don’t get enough sleep, my energy levels are so low making all my thoughts way more gray-scale than usual. My ability to have compassion, empathy, and patience is difficult to access when I am down. There is a lot of research out relating to bad sleep quality/ no sleep to depression. Such a simple self care regime can have such impactful internal changes. What I have found helpful for this is winding down an hour or two before actually laying down to go to sleep. Think of it similarly to warming up before exercise to prepare the body. Restorative activities with low lighting can be really helpful in preparing your body for rest. A few things I’ve used to wind down are drinking decaf tea, sitting on the floor being present with my cats, taking a bath, or reading (I’m not a big reader so this makes me tired fast!) Give yourself a shot to feel good by starting off with enough sleep.
Although the idea of being mindful sounds vague, it is actually quite life changing. The expression ‘ignorance is bliss’ becomes very apparent when you start incorporating mindfulness into your day to day. While yes ignorance can be bliss because you don’t know what you don’t know- literally. Mindfulness is empowering. It creates a reality of awareness for you allowing you to become more in alignment with your whole self and your values. Once the practice starts it’s hard to neglect,but what helped me was to start with one facet of my life. I was gaining physical awareness through my yoga practice, but when I started to be more thoughtful about my food choices it changed everything. Our life source is nutrition and what we are putting into our bodies to function. When we start to bring light about where our food comes from, how it got to our plate, and the way that food makes us feel it has the potential to change our relationship with ourselves very deeply. Some other good ways to incorporate mindfulness is to check in with your breathing a few times a day to see how it feels, how deep it is going, what’s moving with it. Maybe then check in with your physical body tuning into any softness or tension. Mindfulness is the real catalyst for any change.
The last thing I’ll mention is this concept of ‘I Think’ or ‘I Feel’, the language we use to communicate can seem as if that is apart of us. That those thoughts or feelings define us. What goes on in our mind usually isn’t chosen, and I’ll go as far to say, are usually illusions. In vipassana they reference the mind like a elephant in a metropolitan city. With no control that elephant can do worlds of damage, but when tamed it is a graceful addition and benefits everyone around it. I hope with even one of these tools you start to master your elephant.
Contributory Writer for WitchsMarket.com