#3 Pointing the Finger
Unhealthy stress levels are a consequence of a build up of uncontrollable thoughts and emotion. People and circumstance can be central to your suffering but the truth is everything is in your head. Finding fault and blaming others won’t give you the solace that you seek. No matter how you perceive the situation, the story can always have many sides to it and if you allow enough mental space it’s possible that you can lighten your load by shifting perspective. Assessing your situation from an irrational mindset lessens your chances of finding sustainable solutions to the pressure. Making changes to your environment alone won’t give you peace of mind because you need peace from the mind.
We associate with the mind so strongly yet all of our conditioning has been imposed upon us from the beliefs and values of others and we never discern this fact. Quite often we can feel torn by conflicting thoughts in our mind because we were led to believe in opposing ideas from equally influential sources. You may have the case where your mother has raised you with the belief that job security is more important than job satisfaction yet your Uncle Jimmy also made a strong impression with his free entrepreneurial spirit. What comes from your mind is a regurgitation of what you have identified with but these thoughts are not original to you. Once you recognize your attachments from your innate state of detachment you have the space to make intuitive choices that serve you rather than the beliefs of others.
Take heed of the repetitive inner voice of discontent and identify the beliefs behind it. It is very likely you have been listening to this voice repeatedly throughout your life and it locks you into a cycle of stress. Try putting a face to the voice as it usually comes from a significant person from your childhood and you have absorbed the weight of their words and expectations. Through the clarity of awareness you have the power to transcend your inner noise and operate from heartfelt truth. The power is in the seeing.
#2 When and Then
How often have you said to yourself, when I get the promotion… or move departments… or change jobs… then I’ll be happy? Harbouring a when and then mindset is a form of escapism which blinds you to opportunities as you live a life in waiting. Quite often we can create the illusion that our projections will bring us the happiness we seek, yet when we reach the goal it doesn’t taste so sweet as we have created unrealistic expectations.
There may be many things that you find challenging about your current situation, and economically you may not be in a position to make changes but no matter the circumstance, you still have choice in how you see it. A holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, once said, “Our greatest freedom is our freedom to choose our attitude.” Choice comes through being aware of your resistances and beliefs, and for this you need to become self-aware.
Self-awareness is the ability to see the arising of thoughts and emotions much like witnessing what’s going on inside your head from a third person perspective. As you read this recognise the part of you that observes without judgment. The mind operates on many functional levels such as rationalising, reasoning, and planning but to discern the difference between the incessant internal chatter and the you that witnesses is the key to mental freedom. Thoughts are like the windscreen wipers of the mind. As they move across your field of awareness you can lose your focus only if you give them attention. The key is to remain as the observer and not go into the mind stream.
When you manage where you put your attention in each moment, you regain presence with the power of clarity and insight to recognize the possibilities that are available to you.
#1 Taking it Personally
Here you are having spent sleepless nights building up the courage to ask your boss for a pay rise just when he walks into the office without even saying good morning. Add to that he calls in your competitive colleague and assigns him to manage the new project you worked so hard in pitching for. This blatant lack of recognition ignites a turmoil of negative thinking that plummets your self esteem and gives rise to the fear your mother instilled in you, that you are not good enough.
Taking it personally can happen whenever we are identified with something and it’s all about me. Egos can take a pounding in relationships that are loaded with expectation leaving you feeling vulnerable when you feel your self worth is being challenged. Even if your boss identified your colleague as a better choice to manage the new project, it is entirely up to you how you take it. To be empty of an invested view takes you to recognize that the best way to navigate life is to observe from a detached mindset that recognises the highs and lows and rolls with the punches. When you are objectively aware of the conditioned, self-centred nature of your mind you become mindfully present to the arising of feelings and emotions and you are not compelled to react.
According to neuroscience, as little as 5% of our cognitive activity is coming from the conscious mind meaning that 95% of the time it is the unconscious conditioned mind that is in the driving seat of how you respond to life. And this is the source of all the discontent in the world. The blue print of your psychological self is deeply encrusted in limited thinking from all the influential people that have impressed their judgments on you since you first started learning a language.
When you are self-aware you become conscious of the beliefs and values behind sensitivities and reactions, and there is space between thought and action. You are no longer hypnotized by obsessive thinking as you have mental space to be able to discern and regulate your responses.
Workshops by Linda:
Power Manage Yourself