Tag Archives: mindfulness

What is mental wealth?

sanity photo

What is mental wealth?

Mental wealth is just as important as mental health. Mental health is the physiological functioning of the brain and nervous system. Mental wealth is how successful you are at managing the content of your mind. I’m going to share a few strategies with you to enable you to become more mentally wealthy:

Don’t take thoughts seriously. Thoughts aren’t facts. Learn to dismiss them. There will be more along to cloud your mind before you know.

Attention training. Be aware of where your focus is. We tend to focus on things that confirm our existing beliefs about the world. If we see the world as nasty, we will look for examples to confirm this. This is known as confirmation bias. Be aware of what you focus on as it grows and seems more real. The alternative may be true too if you focus on it.

Real worry vs hypothetical worry. When you worry ask yourself if you are focusing on a “what if” worry (hypothetical – it might not happen) or a real worry. An example of real worry would be – your washing machine breaking down. It requires attention now. Know the difference and let go of the hypothetical worries.

Understand that most thoughts are nonsense. We have over 80 000 thoughts every day and most are a waste of your attention. Learn to let go.

Thoughts affect feelings. Feelings affect behaviour. Monitor thoughts for a better quality of life. Focus on the ones that work for you – the positive ones. Let the negative ones go. Watch for errors in thinking such as: overgeneralising, personalising, black and white thinking, catastrophising, mind reading etc – all a waste of energy and attention.

How the brain misinterprets stimuli (old brain – primitive). Sometimes the brain sends us false alarms – know the difference. At times we feel stressed out – we blush, sweat, feel tense, get heart palpitations but often, it is just modern day stress being interpreted by the old brain (the amygdala and hypothalamus) as real danger. Unless there is a real threat such as a lion or a bomb etc..learn to recognise it as a false alarm. The unconscious does not know the difference. It interprets stress as one thing – danger.

Mindfulness – be present in the moment. Learn to engage your senses in what you are doing right now instead of constantly living in the past or the future.

Follow the above and you will be one of the few who practices mental wealth techniques!

Mandy X

 

Why life is full of surprises

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Why life is full of surprises

Photo by Tetsumo

Why is it that we fear uncertainty? Life is inherently uncertain yet we do our best to resist this fact on so many levels. We insure ourselves up to the hilt in order to stay safe. We risk assess and procrastinate, fearing we will make the wrong decision. Life seems to be a series of attempts to keep ourselves safe. We seem to forget that despite this, many of these attempts may only bring us psychological comfort. The reality is that life is full of surprises.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that we should dislike this. Uncertainty has value too. Being aware of every upcoming event would certainly bring its own challenges. Imagine knowing the day you will die or when someone you love will be injured and being unable to stop it from happening. No thanks. We fight uncertainty because we like to feel in control. When we learn to accept that we never fully have control and work with the flow of things, life becomes easier and less stressful. This may seem paradoxical but this is the exact intervention I use with my clients who come see me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

You can learn to tolerate uncertainty by introducing more of it into your life. Try a new restaurant, shop at a different supermarket or speak to strangers more often. Whenever we try something where the outcome is unknown, we are exercising our tolerance of uncertainty.

Perhaps life is full of surprises in order to teach us to live more in the moment. We often focus on what might happen and bombard ourselves with “what if..?” statements constantly. If we knew the date of an impending event, whether good or bad, we would find it even more difficult to stay focused in the present.

Accept uncertainty and embrace it as if you have chosen it. Only then will you feel free to live with the unfamiliar and the unknown.

Mandy X

Find yourself

woman smiling forest photo

Find yourself

Photo by Claus Rebler

Do you know yourself? Do you know what makes you happy? When you find yourself, you know what makes you happy. You also know your strengths and weaknesses and are less swayed by others. When you develop you inner core and know who you are, you will achieve inner peace.

Here’s how to find yourself:

Rediscover childhood pursuits

What hobbies and interests have you stopped doing as an adult? Get back to trying some of them. Your ‘essential’ self was the person you were born to be. This person gets conditioned by society and your ‘social self’ develops. Your social self can hide your essential self and this is when we begin to feel lost and without identity. Think about activities where the times passes quickly – this is where your natural interests lie. Get back to those things you loved doing as a child.

Laugh a lot

Have fun. Play and mess about. Laughter smooths over a lot of negatives in life. It doesn’t take them away but it can make life more bearable. Learn to take life less seriously, things are often never as bad as they seem. Take regular time out.

Trust your instincts – listen to others less

We all have self doubt and this can hijack our own wisdom. Learn to tune into your inner wisdom. It is always there whispering to you but often we don’t listen. Tune out the ‘noise’ from others and tune into your instinctual tendencies. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go when you have self belief and trust your own judgement more.

Ask yourself – is this was my last day on earth, would I be happy doing what I am just about to do?

This one question sorts out priorities. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and stop thinking in an inspired way. Every now and then it’s important to assess where you are going, whether you are on track to achieve your goals and if the quality of your life is good enough. If it isn’t, put together an action plan and do some problem solving around possibilities for change and the future.

Stop the “musts” and “shoulds”

There is no need to place unnecessary pressure on ourselves and we do this when we use the words “must” and “should”. Try replacing them with “could” or “I would prefer…”. We always have more choice in life that we think we do and these 2 words limit us.

Live in the moment

Our power to make a difference, feel happy and make changes lies in the present moment. This is what is happening to us NOW. Learn to enjoy the small things in life and be more mindful. The past is gone (learn from it) and the future is yet to come (do things now to lay ground for the future). Set goals and have a future direction but then get back to living in the present moment. Look at how happy our pets are – they live in the present and don’t worry about things that might never happen. Copy this behaviour.

Be true to yourself

This one’s important – be a misfit, be different, be unconventional but whatever you do, be true to yourself. Be proud of your quirks and differences. The more you love and accept yourself (yes, I know it’s a cliche) the more others will too. Love yourself, be yourself and never change who you are to get others to like you.

Finding yourself means being introspective regularly. Know yourself well and figure out what you like, dislike as well as what your strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing quite like being loved for who you really are.

Mandy X

 

 

 

Change is inevitable

 

 

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Change is inevitable

An indisputable fact of life is that change is a continuous process that we all have to adapt to. Life moves on and we get older. The seasons come and go and people come and go from our lives too. Sometimes change is positive  such as the arrival of a new baby or moving into a bigger house but it can also be negative like a relationship that ends or someone passing away.

Change is inevitable and our attitude to change is what makes the situation easier when the change is negative.

Tips for dealing with change

Focus on what you can control

When we focus on what we can’t control we create unnecessary anxiety and stress in our lives. We cannot control the thoughts and actions of others, all we can control is our own thoughts and actions. This is where your power lies, bring your focus back to yourself. Always ask yourself whether what you are worrying about is within your control. If it isn’t, learn to let it go.

Practice ‘non-attachment’

Everything in life is temporary – your possessions and even the people in your life. This idea provokes anxiety for a lot of people but use this to your advantage. Learn to really appreciate what you have now as it won’t be there forever. Practicing a certain amount of non-attachment is a good thing as it is a worldly reminder that life is transient and that we should never take for granted the people in our lives. The less attachment we have to physical possessions, the happier we are. Being too attached to material possessions brings with it anxiety and a desire to exert control. This control is something many people chase but it is a waste of energy in the long run.

Live in the moment as much as possible

We all scare ourselves unnecessarily with fearful thoughts about the future. “What if this happens or what if that becomes a reality?”. More often than not the fearful thoughts are far worse than the reality would be and it is our inability to cope with uncertainty that leads many of us to feel anxious. Practising mindfulness is a great way to allay fears and to enjoy the moment more. When we are living inside our heads and worrying about the future, we are losing precious moments to feel happy and content. Try to focus your attention on what is going on around you. Practise focusing your attention in the present moment. If you catch your mind wandering to the future, refocus on your environment – what can you see, hear, touch…? This does take practise but keep at it!

Goals and purpose

Committing to a purpose that is greater than ourselves is a wonderful way to bring meaning into life. What are your long term and short term goals? Create a visualisation board with images of where you would like to be in a year or two years…what do you see?

Having something to work towards can help you to feel stronger when you are experiencing moments of self doubt. A bigger picture can help you to stay on track.

Change is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be something we fear. Instead of resisting it, learn to work with it as if you have chosen that change on purpose. There is a lesson in every life experience and change we go through.

Mandy X