“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
– Wayne W. Dyer
We all face challenges, but what we do with them is up to us.
The mind is known to wander. In fact, according to Dr. Matthew Killingsworth, there’s a strong correlation between mind wandering and feeling unhappy a short time later.
Have you ever experienced doing the dishes or cooking dinner, but you’re thinking about something else? Or, you’re in the midst of a conversation, but you’re contemplating what you’re going to say instead of listening? Or you’ve been driving for the last 20 minutes, but you don’t recall how you got to where you are?
Interestingly enough, Killingsworth found that people think about something other than what they’re doing 47% of the time, including when having sex!
The mind is akin to a hamster wheel – constantly going – until, that is, we learn how to tame and soothe it.
Our thoughts, beliefs and fears, among other obstacles, keeps us engaged and prevent us from living in the present moment. Here are three hurdles and solutions to overcome them:
Obstacle #1: Mental Chatter
Mental chatter, also known as the monkey mind in Buddhist philosophy, occurs when our minds are busy and our thoughts are swinging from one idea to another without intention or focus. Some authorities estimate that we have been 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day and that most of them are repetitive. No wonder many of us are exhausted!
Solution #1: Moving from Chattering to Flowing
Learn how to quiet the mind through meditation, breathing exercises, walking in nature, yoga, gardening, cooking or working on your car engine! The idea here is to engage in something you enjoy and that helps you to focus on what you’re doing. Experiences that helps us get into the flow redirect our attention, calm the mind and increase our happiness.
Obstacle #2: Beliefs
Our beliefs are thoughts that have taken root in our consciousness and may or may not be true, although we think they are. One way to identify a belief is if it generalized and is either always or never true. Here are just a few:
- “I’ll never get a job. I’m way too old.” (Too young, inexperienced, too experienced, etc.)
- “As an expat, I’ll never feel part of the Italian community.”
- “I love to travel, but I’ll never have enough money to do it.”
Get the picture?
Negative beliefs keep us stuck and limit our experience. As a result, we talk ourselves out the very things we desire, including our dreams and goals, when the opportunities may lie just around the corner.
Solution #2: Notice Your Beliefs than Question Their Validity
Pay attention to what your beliefs are telling you. Start by asking yourself if your beliefs are true or if they are an assumption.
When a negative belief gets hold of us, we can often feel it in the body. It may manifest as tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, or as a cascade of judgments about ourselves, others, or the situation we are contemplating.
An exercise I often recommend is to carry a small notebook around and jot down the beliefs you have as they occur to you. If you’re like the rest of us, you’ll likely have quite a few! Then, when you have time, ask yourself where the beliefs came from, and if they’re always or never true. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!
Obstacle #3: Self-Talk
Self-talk includes the messages we tell ourselves that eventually get hardwired in to the brain and turn in to our beliefs. Negative self-talk effects our self-esteem, impacts our health, and is detrimental to our relationships. Similar to our beliefs, negative self-talk holds us back and block creative solutions.
- “I’m too fat (thin, short, tall, etc.). Why bother asking him/her out on a date?”
- “I’m lazy. Nothing inspires or interests me.”
- “I can’t go to the Expat meeting. No one will like me.”
Do you notice a shift in your sense of well-being and energy as you read the above self-talk statements? Yuck!
Solution #3: Affirmations with a Twist
Increase your awareness of the messages you are telling yourself. When engaged in negative self-talk, change the channel and replace it with a positive statement. However, be mindful that’s it’s not enough to simply say the words, you must embody the feeling that the affirmation conveys.
Here are a few examples, from the letters “A,” “E,” and “F,” of Alphabet Affirmations: Transform Your Life and Love Yourself:
- “I am Enough. I love myself completely.”
Note: Find something you like about yourself, even if it’s your little pinky, then let the good feelings soak down into your body and fill you for breaths or several seconds
- “I Appreciate life and Always find things that please me.”
Note: Think of something you appreciate or that’s present in your environment. . It could be as simple as the taste of your morning cup of coffee, a cool drink of water, or the sound of birds outside your window. Notice the feelings that emerge as you focus on what your object of appreciation is and let the good feelings flow down into your body. Stay with the sensations for five to 10 seconds.
- “I surround myself with Friends and Family who love, respect and value me.”
Note: Imagine going to the Expat in Trieste meeting with the intention of finding one person connect with. Open to the good feelings that arise as you engage in the conversation. Let yourself experience a sense of friendship and value.
Oh! Remember that small notebook I mentioned when talking about beliefs? As an added exercise, you can include your self-talk statements. I suggest writing them on the left side of the paper as they occur to you. Then, when you have 15 or 20 minutes of quiet time, write affirmations on the right-hand side of the paper to refute them. As you practice your new self-talk statements, tune in to the good feelings arise, letting them flow down into and through your body.
PS: It’s normal to have the negative statements resurface. Notice them, then refocus your attention on the positive. If that’s difficult, let the exercise go and come back to the practice when ready.
If you enjoyed today’s post, stay tuned for Part 2!
Wishing you a love-filled, healthy, happy week!
Article and Photo Theresa Conti 2020
Theresa Conti was born and raised in New York. She is a Certified Life Coach, Energy Healing Practitioner, Workshop Facilitator and Author with more than 25 years’ experience. Her books include Alphabet Affirmations: Transform Your Life and Love Yourself, and I Am the Treasure.
Theresa specializes in helping her clients manage their stress, and develop inner resources, like confidence, courage and resilience, so they can live with greater ease, realize their goals and dreams and better meet life’s challenges. She offers a 30-minute complimentary consultation to get acquainted, discuss your goals , and see how you might work together. She can be reached at Theresa@reconnecting2you.com.
Reference: A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind. Dr. Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert