What you will allow, is what will continue - the battle of the mind May 17 2018, 0 Comments
As a creative business woman with depression and anxiety I am highly aware of how my mindset can impact every aspect of my life. At the moment I’m noticing how most of my thought patterns are based around scarcity, not enough, not good enough etc. and it’s something I am seeking to change.
It’s such a damaging and frustrating cycle! Yet it’s completely within my control. Go figure. Funnily enough all those people saying “just believe in this, just do these three things every day and voila!” also don’t tell you as openly that like depression and anxiety – overcoming negative self-talk is a personal journey, and no you can’t just “snap out of it” and “be more positive” as if those things are a quick fix. This is a journey, and you’ve a) got to want to change yourself, and b) be prepared to fail heaps before you succeed, and even when you’re ‘succeeding’ you’ll realise that failing is still part of success.
I believe in positive vibes, in the law of attraction, and manifesting, but I struggle to fully harness these concepts at the best of times. It’s something I’m working on – not just in a business sense in terms of dollars in the bank, but also personally. So today, while I’m writing about this for you to read, I’m also secretly using this as a form of journaling for myself. Let’s see where this takes us.
In a sense, living with depression and anxiety can be boiled down to one thing*, no matter which way you look at it: not living in the present moment in your head. You’re either worrying about what’s to come or ruminating on what has passed.
Right now, you might be thinking, “No Steph, in this moment I DO feel shit, I DON’T have any good food to eat, I DIDN’T get enough sleep, so when I think about these things I AM living in the present” and you’ll tempted to stop reading but I implore you to persevere. Because in a way you ARE right, and I’m here to tell you that you DO need to acknowledge these things. These things ARE a reality of your situation right now and acknowledging that is very important. But – and this is the kicker, and where I really struggle myself – these things are not what you should FOCUS on with any weight. There is a solid difference between acknowledging something and focusing on something, and a difference between focusing on one thing in isolation, rather than focusing on the whole. You need to focus on what you HAVE passionately and acknowledge what you don’t have objectively.
There are two things you need to keep in mind here:
EVERYTHING passes, the good and the bad
Your body is wired to engage the fight-or-flight response depending on WHAT YOU FOCUS ON
A favourite quote of mine is “What you allow, is what will continue”. This is something I have told many people, and clearly some medicine of my own I need to take more often. You see – what you focus on, is what you attract. So, I sit here obsessively worrying about things, and simultaneously wondering why these exact things don’t change. With this worry comes higher levels of anxiety and stress, and so my fight-or-flight response kicks in, and I sit, and worry, and feel really crappy about everything. Who is winning here?
Two things have happened in the last 24 hours that have really hit home and inspired me to write this publicly, rather than in my personal diary at home. Firstly, due to human error on my part, I was paid less than the hours I worked for the last fortnight. Secondly, my friend surprised herself by making an epic dinner when she thought there was ‘nothing to eat’ in the house.
So why have these two seemingly unconnected things been so pivotal?
Both these situations highlight the need for focusing on what we HAVE, not what we don’t have. Right now, there less money in the bank than what there could have been, and yes, this worries me. I think about the bills, I think about the things I won’t be able to buy if I want or need them; what if an emergency occurs in the future?! But the epiphany I’ve had has made me realise that even if I HAD been paid those hours in this pay cheque, I would still be worrying about all of these exact same things.
So, it’s not the dollar value sitting in the bank that is the problem is it? The problem is where I am placing my focus. I am focusing on one thing and not acknowledging that this as part of a bigger picture that actually is totally is fine and manageable. If I were to focus on the bigger picture, and what I DO have right now, then I should be feeling pretty content and significantly less anxious – and it has nothing to do with a numerical digit I read on a screen.
And the dinner thing? This happened to me last week too. I spent ages delaying making dinner because I was so concerned with what we didn’t have. I used my most honed avoidance tactic of procrastination and just dawdled around the house, worrying and avoiding, until I was really quite hungry (and the 5-year-old was also evidently hungry too…woops!). Yet once I entered the kitchen and started focusing on what I had available, I ended up making one of the tastiest meals I have ever made with so few ingredients, and in such a short time. And I wasn’t wearing a bright apron, a full face of makeup and perfect hair while exclaiming ‘with just three simple ingredients, you can whip up any beautiful meal in less than 10 minutes’. I was in my track pants, I was stressed out, and it took me a while to come to the kitchen and think a bit more creatively about it all. Once I started looking at what I had and realising these few things were my only options, I produced something awesome!
At Unitec I remember various assignments where we were given a list of restrictions, either in terms of the materials available, or the techniques we were allowed to use. The whole idea was not to focus on what you couldn’t use, because that is SO blinding. The idea, and the only way you would succeed and probably surprise yourself with your ingenuity, was to focus on what you do have.
So, there’s a sweet life lesson for you (and me) on a cool Thursday morning in Autumn, wrapped up in a low pay cheque and some delicious food. Living ‘in the moment’ isn’t focusing on what you DON’T have but focusing on what you DO have. That shift in focus will have you feeling more positively, and in turn attract more of those same positive things. There lies the power to feeling overwhelmingly abundant, and to lessening some of the burden you carry when you’re feeling depressed and anxious.
I’m not telling you it’s a quick fix, or easy to do. It’s a practise thing. You’ve got to do it over, and over, and over, and over again, and again, until it becomes a habit. Life can be so overwhelming and this does need to be acknowledged so that you don’t burn yourself out! I haven’t achieved this mindset consistently either, so I’m no guru. But if this is something I’m learning right now, then chances are someone else out there is feeling the same, and perhaps this pieces of writing is the thing that will help inspire them out of their rut!
Big love to anyone and everyone struggling to deal with anything right at this moment, be kind to yourself. Find something you love and focus passionately on that for a bit. Let me know if that helps, even momentarily.
SIDE NOTE: the entire time writing this my sceptical inner voice has been parroting away with negative self-talk. The. Whole. Time. So, there is my challenge, and probably what has been holding me back in my work towards feeling more positive and abundant. All the above applies to basically anything in life, anything. If I look back to my darkest days I remember all the things I ‘didn’t’ have, and it saddens me to realise that I could have spent that time focusing on what I did have, not only because it would have made life so much more enjoyable at the time, but also because it is so much harder to recall now – all the positive things I did have during those times. Is this something you are also struggling with right now?
*This is my personal opinion right now. It may change, but this is what I’m feeling at the moment. Feel free to discuss other ideas with me! I’m open to growth and discussion and creating dialogue around these mental health issues!