For the last 4 years I’ve been exploring the human experience. My own combat with anxiety awoke a deep curiosity. Since then I’ve been learning to live in harmony with all elements of the human experience, rather than trying to run from them. It all started with noticing and exploring a non-judgemental appreciation for my thoughts. What followed fairly quickly seemed at first to be a lifetime’s worth of lightbulb moments in one big bang. As time has gone by what I’ve noticed more and more, is the willingness to observe rather than my default desire to analyse and evaluate has created a quiet sense of safety and contentment for even the trickiest times.
So let’s crack on, jump straight in and stare thought in the face. See it for what it truly is. Explore how we humans get something on our minds and bring it to life, in glorious technicolour.
Getting to grips with thought has changed everything for me. At last I get it. We and only we, create our experience through the thoughts in our mind. We have this power within us. It is innate. We’re all the same, without question. The challenging thoughts still come into my mind, of course they do. I’m human, well most of the time at least! The difference now is what I’ve come to call my bounce back time (or resilience). Let me give you an example.
2 days ago I sat down to write this story. I was unloading the dishwasher and suddenly decided to write it, there and then. I left the dishwasher open, pots and pans all over and went with the flow. I wrote my story. At the top of this very editing page are 3 very important buttons!! Save, publish and delete. So in my second ever crack at doing this, I was so focussed on NOT publishing the unedited version, you can guess what I did. I pressed delete. So busy focussing on a goal, so busy creating my own little pressure cooker of expectation. I hit delete. I was devastated, disappointed and for a few moments started to enter the spin of persecution. I didn’t do it on purpose, of course not. It isn’t the end of the world, for sure. But in those few moments I was stupid, worthless and inadequate. That was at least until took a deep breath and tuned back into what I know is TRUE. Those feelings were coming from thought. I’m good at those feelings because I’ve spent a long time perfecting them. Take a negative thought or two in a finite moment and boom! I make them into my own little version of events. My own script and my own biography. Give me an hour or even 10 minutes and on a bad day that can spiral down, down, down. That’s where we start creating the future through thought. We can imagine conversations, play out interactions and even work through conflict. What’s worse is we literally start to feel the effects of those thoughts, which haven’t even happened yet!
Here comes the science bit!
Err, well actually it doesn’t? Unlike the shampoo adverts! I know, for goodness sake, what are they thinking back at hair-care HQ!!! The truth is, unlike the Loreal lady, there is no science required. To be honest it’s as simple as this:
We are lucid beings with an amazing mind. Thoughts pass through. If we choose to linger on them and shine our conscious energy through them. Bingo. We get a feeling.
And that’s why this matters so much to me. My own anxiety and years in the classroom brought me to a BIG realisation. If only I came across this understanding at school. Then I would have been prepared for the REAL world. The world of fending for myself, appreciating the rough and the smooth but most of all, really living and thriving one day at a time. Not stuck on a perpetual incline, always looking to the next horizon to tick something off. Do you know the “I’ll be OK when I’ve…” mindset? Insert the target of your choice. My favourites are lost weight, worked harder, been a more patient mum, phoned my lovely friends and this week, tidied up!!
I am OK. I always was OK and so are you. The mum in me hopes for nothing more than this understanding for my little boys. The teacher in me knows for sure, that it IS the key to enabling any child to tap effortlessly into their own potential. To be comfortable having a go and getting things wrong. Sound in the knowledge that together with their peers and the teachers in their classroom, they are all in this together and together they will find their own answers, solutions and creations. For this there is no script. No teacher can plan for this connection and possibility. That’s the whole point. As soon as anyone creates a train of thought with a target in mind, they may as well check themselves straight into the cells of thought prison. And that can seem to be a very hard place to break out of if you keep on adding another layer of restrictive thought. It’s the same in the classroom, the office and the boardroom. Whatever your boardroom may be.
I’ll talk a lot more about the paralysing effects of planning, targets and firmly rooted goal posts, another time.
We’ve passed the blue skies of late summer and are well into the misty days of autumn. Spare a thought for those clouds in the sky and blue sky that is, always behind them. Thoughts are like clouds. Different shapes, wispy or dense. Sometimes they linger, sometimes they fly by. What will always be a constant is that like clouds, thoughts will come and go. Whether they cloud our minds moment to moment, is entirely in our hands. We all have the quiet of blue sky inside us as well. It’s been there all along!
Felicity is a mum, teacher and innate wellbeing specialist. leading on wellbeing and resilience in education and the workplace. Putting the U in human for sustainable, satisfied people and saving wasted resource through recruitment, retention and rewards.
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