How Can I Feel Better?
Ok, so we’ve spent the last 8 weeks learning about how our minds work, how we form these patterns in early life that get programmed into how we operate today, and that once we start noticing these patterns, we can begin to take the power out of them so that we can learn to help ourselves. I think it’s time we start looking at HOW we actually do that…
So, I decided to film myself when I was in one of my unhelpful cycles, to see if I could gain some insight into what was going on and what help it brought me to be able to notice my patterns and see them for what they are. It was definitely an interesting experiment! The big issue I was struggling with at the time was that I had decided to move back home to North America after having lived in Sydney for 8 years.
I woke up one morning feeling really off…I was down, I couldn’t concentrate, I was overwhelmed. Everything seemed hard. I didn’t want to do anything.
When I started talking through this experience, when I really stopped to notice what my thoughts were, it quickly became clear that there were some unhelpful patterns that were surfacing for me. It started with feelings of sadness and loss - but then my thoughts quickly morphed into massively questioning myself (which isn’t a bad thing per se - if we don’t question ourselves, we can’t change things!) but my questioning was not a kind, curious observation, it was a harsh and overbearing beat-down.
I was noticing a pattern of me leaving things that I care about (countries, homes, relationships). This pattern is something I have been noticing and working with for years, and something that really shaped so much of my late teen and early adult life. I could fully see the pain it had been causing me and others…and because I was feeling so low and watching myself playing out this same damn story for the umpteenth time, my mind immediately went into 'inner critic' mode.
Why do I always have to leave? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just be normal and stay in one place like everybody else? Will I ever be grounded and stable? Why am I abandoning everything I care about?
When I started to notice this pattern, something interesting began to happen…I started to slowly gain perspective…As I was actually saying these thoughts out loud (and into a camera!) I began to hear myself blubbering away like a scared little child who just wants someone to tell her it’s all going to be ok…and I began to see the humour in the situation.
Here I was, a grown woman, a psychologist - laying on my bed, crying into my iPhone about how much of a mess I am. How could I not see the humour in that!?
I began to see these thoughts for what they were - a reaction to my very real and very intense feelings of loss, separation, and loneliness. I’m going to get more into how to cope with these feelings in future posts, but for now what’s important to recognise is that seeing our patterns and gaining a lighter perspective on them allows us to make choices that can help us move through what we’re feeling and take care of ourselves. Once I saw that I was enacting a little girl response (one that I know well and that stems from my early life trauma and relationship patterns) it was clear that I simply needed to help myself remember that I am loved and connected. Luckily my amazing cuddle machine kitty was on hand and happily crawled onto my lap for a snuggle to end all snuggles.
It’s incredible how differently things can feel after a kitten cuddle!
Once our minds are a bit calmer and we are feeling slightly more uplifted, it’s all of a sudden far easier to make choices about how we want to approach whatever issue we are currently facing in our lives.
I was still feeling sad and a bit down, but it wasn’t quite so HEAVY if you know what I mean. I could separate from my thoughts a bit, and I noticed there was a bit more space in my mind. This space is all we need to begin to change these patterns - to start to get on with our lives.
I decided then that jumping in the ocean was the appropriate thing to do. I did live only a few feet away from a gorgeous beach and perfect ocean pool, so it was really a very logical thing to do when in a funk! Notice how this thought never even occurred to me when I was caught in my mental pattern??
I was so lost in a reaction, that I couldn't see what was right in front of me. I had no perspective.
Boy did it ever feel good to plunge into the cool fresh salty ocean! There is something so freeing about being fully immersed in water…it’s like we feel the fluidity of our nature - feel that our form can move and glide and expand, that we are not 'stuck' and 'static' like it may seem at times. That experience was like a breath of fresh air! I came back in and continued my on-camera monologue…but it’s so interesting watching it now because not only are my thoughts clearly different, but my whole demeanour is completely transformed! My eyes are brighter, my voice is quicker and perkier in tone, there is a whole lightness that wasn’t there when I was droning on in misery. Fascinating to watch! (Once you get past cringing at yourself of course).
My reflections after the swim were much kinder and more accurate. It was more along the lines of:
I’m going through a really hard time, I’m noticing my patterns, and I need to allow myself to feel the sadness of leaving without beating myself up about it. I need to trust that I am doing my best with the information that I have, and that I will continue to grow and learn and that this pattern will simply take time to shift.
With this new perspective, I was actually able to see more of the things I love about my life in Sydney, and appreciate them while I still had time. So, this shift in perspective didn’t take away my pain, it didn’t change my situation - it simply gave me a more helpful perspective in how I understood it, which allowed me to EXPERIENCE what was happening in a totally different way.
And THAT is how changing our minds can literally change our entire reality.
If you want to see my video-taped experience...check it out here :)