The truth of the Irish proverb As an obair do fachtar an fhogh-luim Learning comes through work is that you can study the theoretics of car mechanics, quantum mechanics, bricklaying or physiotherapy but it is only in the real world of it, comes the confidence and flexing of skills that make one competent at it. You have to apply skills.
Just so with our own psychological woes or mental wellness – we have to get hands on, we have to take the knowledge into activity and gain more knowledge by the activity. It is building the skills set, developing the mindset, experiencing not just expounding the various cbt exercises, positive psychology, mindful meditations, that is the work, that will help us truly work it out. The doing is.
Yes, the doing is. And while we must do more of what we love – to break from the fear, rumination, stilting and demotivations of the anxious self, so too we must do more of what equips us for self-regulation, self-compassion, self-assertion and being our true unhindered selves. It may be hard work at times but other times it will be peak experience, in the flow perfection, in the now awareness and even a joy to partake. The work can be as enjoyable as it will be rewarding.
Put the practices of this blog into place – do the work. Don’t just read and nod along in agreement or recoil in disagreement – try it out. Get some skills. Learn a better life.
Exercise. Affirming self-belief.
Our brains operate in an input/output manner which is why it is so easy to get from ‘I think I am going to be sad today’ to ‘I am sad now’, to being sad all week. The brain hears ‘I’ and ‘sad’ as a sadness occurring – it processes it as a command and complies. It doesn’t discern it as random thought – it processes it as a literal fact. We aren’t just what we eat, we are what we think and so if it is all garbage in, then it’s all garbage on out.
If our struggles with mental health have though us one thing, it’s that we can ruminate a worse outcome, so the question is can we assert a more positive one. Well, yes we can. I am a fan of NLP and positive affirmations as they are a way to write code for the brain, to get it to compute a better reaction. It is not magical thinking, or hoping for. It is cause and effect. If you tell yourself you are going to have a shit time at the office party, you will. The brain is geared up for self-fulfilling prophecies. If you tell yourself I am going to enjoy this party, you just might. Ok someone can always spoil the fun. But going with the intent to enjoy can be self-fulfilling as much as going with the dread.
So here is the how to – because the brain works in the present tense, the best approach is to tell yourself I am enjoying this party when you get there. The good endorphins will comply. It is the same with affirmations to overcome anxiety or depression, the trick is not ‘one day I will’ (although that’s good to run in the background) the real benefits come from ‘yes I can’, ‘yes I am’, ‘yes this now is good’. The present tense as you want it to happen.
Ok it won’t stop the domestic violence down stairs or bring back the lost job, dog or lover, but it can stop the total decent into hell of ‘it is my fault’, ‘life is shit’, ‘I hate myself’, ‘I hate life’. In those scenarios where the present tense is not a thought but an event unfolding then the positive is ‘I will survive this’, ‘this is temporary’ etc. After such events, the positive is the reframing from victim to survivor – ‘I am over it’.
Mindful practices give us a better handle of moment to moment, of entering the now and so being in the moment of the reality and the moment of the brain’s processing of that reality. CBT and positive psychology teach us that while we cannot leap tall buildings, we have a superpower – we can shape our perception of the experience, we can imprint positivity on to the moment and carry that over into the next. There is a chain reaction, you chose the spark. Can you be more in control – yes you can – ‘yes I am in control’. Can you be more joyous – yes you can – ‘I feel so good about this new skill’. So, prime your mind with ability and achievement, with good going on right now.
This is the ladder out of doubt. Do it in the present tense – I am .., this is .., etc. avoid the negative words so it’s not ‘I am not sad’ (the brain may glitch at ‘not’) it is ‘I am all good’, ‘I am feeling great’. ‘This is a good day’. It is not ‘I won’t self-harm today’ it is ‘I am strong today’. It is always you or the moment in the positive tense. When you say it or think it out, do it as a statement of fact. Tell that brain that this is your truth – believing it begets belief. Now thats work worth doing.