Mindfulness is a word I often get tired of hearing about… Ugh… It’s been thrown around nearly every category of personal development from middle school education to corporate management and teambuilding. It’s gone on for several years and it begins to sound cliché.
It sounds like a buzz word (and I don’t like “buzz words”)… But this is important. We need to discuss it here.
You spend most of your conscious time with your own thoughts, inside your own head. That is a dangerous place to be! Think about it, there is no accountability to anyone but you. Sometimes you are too easy on yourself. Other times you are out-of-bounds, crazy-hurtful, unbelievably hard on yourself. You’ve even been known to “Beat yourself up”.
(We hear this statement a lot! From people from all walks of life! “I beat myself up all the time!” …More on this topic in a coming post!)
Most of the time when you’re in your own mind (almost always) you’re not: “In-the-moment”, you’re not “present”, you can’t enjoy the “now” …most of the time, you’re stressing about things you screwed up in the past, or the things you’ll probably screw up in the future. There are more potential outcomes for you to worry about than you could ever count.
Talk about STRESS!
In your own mind, at any given moment, you’re planning your next move, analyzing your last move, worrying about the schedule or what to have for dinner, the argument you had with your spouse, the kids’ school play and how to kick that idiot off the committee without jeopardizing your relationship with your boss! Never a dull moment!
Now, for the mindfulness part.
There are as many explanations of what mindfulness IS, as there are proponents of the exercise. I’m not a therapist or psychologist, so for our purposes here, I’m going to say that mindfulness is the conscious awareness of our thoughts and emotions in the present moment. (That’s my own rough definition. You can google it if you want something more technical).
Mindfulness usually comes in the same packet as meditation. My problem with mindfulness was …that I had tried “meditation” in the past and it was an utter disaster. My mind kept wandering while I was trying to figure out if I was breathing right, sitting right, or doing it “right”. I was so rigid my back hurt, my butt went to sleep.
I was working so hard to relax and let things “flow” that I ended up stuck! Constipation of the brain! Nothing was becoming clear, I discovered nothing (other than I was a whiner). I didn’t “Get it” and I was too proud (More on this in a coming post, too) to ask for guidance. I could only struggle through (or in) a few meditation/mindfulness sessions before I decided it was too much work and I threw the book away. I mean, how can I meditate for thirty minutes if I can’t even make it five or ten?!?
Well, now I know better.
The idea, here, is to simply focus your mind enough to notice what emotion(s) you’re feeling at a given moment… What string of thoughts are you ranting about or repeating over and over in your mind as you feel these emotions? …And what event, phrase, situation or other stimulus caused you to start feeling and acting this way?
That’s pretty much it. There isn’t a lot of rightness or wrongness to it. (Nutshell version to be sure)You don’t have to sit in formal meditative state (although that is an excellent way to practice mindfulness).
You can exercise your mindfulness muscle during ANY activity or event you choose. That gives you a ton of freedom that I never got when I tried meditation. I’m a firstborn. I was SO worried I was doing it WRONG, I couldn’t take the baby steps and I gave up before anyone explained that – EVERYONE experiences my same frustration and suffering when they first start out. Well, DUH!
That’s the whole point. Mindfulness is about realizing that your daily thoughts, feelings and experiences come and go in Nano-seconds. They are fluid. They are constantly changing in relation to your thoughts, moods and whatever mental distortions you throw in the mix.
Mindfulness is not static. Mindfulness is the window to enlightenment. Literally!
This is the infancy of your experience regarding where self-bullying begins.
At ANY time, you can take a step back from an emotional derailment as it’s happening, or pause while you’re being carried off by runaway thoughts, and observe what has you so wound up. You CAN afford to take a few moments to process and identify the triggers that set your destructive-thought/emotional weaknesses in motion.
This is huge! You have NO IDEA (yet) of the power contained in this simple instruction!
When you discover the origin of these thought cycles and habits, you become aware of their path and how to redirect them. You can begin to feel hope in your ability to guide new thoughts that will bless your own life and the lives of everyone that surrounds you.
This is not the last time we’ll discuss mindfulness in the BullySelf blog. Whatever you call it however you feel about it right now doesn’t matter. It is the first step to successful handling of your BullySelf and reducing its influence over you. It’s so important to what we are trying to do here, we’ll need to discuss it further and in greater detail. There will be more to come.
You can easily start a little mindfulness of your own by noticing your thoughts and emotions (even if you don’t know what triggered them yet). You can do this anywhere. You don’t have to have your eyes closed. You don’t have to breathe a certain way, cross your legs, count breaths or levitate. Simply begin to notice your thoughts and emotions when they show up.
Do it everywhere. Notice them and name each one of them. There could be more than one emotion attached to a thought or string of thoughts. Name them aloud; happy, sad, enthusiasm, skepticism, guilt, remorse, etc. (NOTE: This little “ Say it aloud” tidbit helps disarm the intensity of each destructive emotion simply in its audible, verbal expression) Pretty cool huh?
I know it’s not very scientific but I find that most of the emotions I cycle through during these BullySelf confrontations could be loosely categorized into one of these four areas (even if it’s just an approximation for a quick analysis) … Sad, Glad, Mad or Scared.
Try it out. Start to get a feeling for what’s randomly or intentionally spinning through your mind. Track and identify your emotions into one of these four categories. Keep it simple. Recognize it, acknowledge it aloud, remember it or write it down.
Let us know if you gain any insights. We’ll be working together, combining different tools in order to overcome years of troublesome thoughts and feelings. We want to minimize the harmful and unnecessary bullying we all do to ourselves.
Hang on! This will be fun but it could get bumpy.