We all have days that don’t shape up as we expected, but what about when days turn into weeks, months or even a year? For many, 2017 was a year of struggle and 2018 has been welcomed with open arms for a refreshing new start. I certainly felt like 2017 was a difficult one and had many life changes and challenges that tested my resolve. However, in the suffering also came a blessing – my awakening. Without experiencing the difficult times, the triggers, the vulnerabilities, I wouldn’t have stumbled across the resources that I did and find the catalyst to make some serious changes to my beliefs, thoughts and actions. So where do you begin when it feels like you’re trapped in the darkness?
1. Find Space
This comes in the sense of both physical, mental and emotional space. Find time where you can be alone with yourself and really turn inward. You might just sit and allow your emotions to arise and give yourself the opportunity to fully feel them. You might like to place your hand on your heart and ask yourself what are you feeling and what do you need? By connecting with your body and mind without distractions, you can begin to tap into what is really going on for you and start to bring about more awareness so that you can determine what to do next. The more that you allow yourself to fully experience and process your emotions, the more you will find that your negativity and low mood start to shift. Be sure to do this in a quiet room where there are no distractions or potential for interruption.
2. Re-frame Your Thoughts
Once you allow yourself more space to fully feel your emotions and tune into what might be going on for you, you may find that negative thoughts arise. We can be so used to distracting ourselves from difficult thoughts and emotions that they all seem to gush up at once when we are alone and still. This is perfectly normal and something to expect as you are beginning to practice stillness. The way to address negative thoughts as they arise is to catch them, acknowledge them without judgement and then re-frame them. Some ways to re-frame your thoughts would be to talk through the thought in the same way you would talk to your child or friend who was thinking this, or to look for the lesson or gratitude in the thought to balance out it’s negative energy. An example of re-framing a thought could look like this – You’ve made a mistake at work and tell yourself that you are not cut out for the job and should give up. Then consider what you would say to a colleague who had made the same mistake, such as it’s not as bad as you thought or nobody realised the mistake until you pointed it out. Alternatively, you could look at the lesson or gratitude in the situation, such as by making this mistake I learnt about what not to do moving forward which will make me better at my job or if I’m grateful that I picked up on this mistake when I did and avoided further repercussions.
3. Practice Gratitude
Following on from using gratitude to shift negative thoughts, it is also a great tool to use generally throughout your day as a mindset tool. Each morning I thank myself for waking up; and each evening I thank my mind, body and spirit for supporting me through the day and then go on to say what I am grateful for currently, as well as what I’m grateful for in the future. By practicing gratitude, you can support your mind to focus on more positive aspects of your life rather than the lack. It’s so easy to forget all of the small things we do everyday that are positive and the most important one – that we are still breathing which gives us an opportunity for change. Before falling asleep each night, try to think of a positive thing from your day that you are grateful for, a negative thing that you are grateful for and a future opportunity that you are grateful for.
4. Develop some plans
Now that you’ve started getting more in touch with your emotions, thoughts and overall mindset, you might like to develop some ways that you can make small changes or actions that propel you towards the light. Start off by writing a list of things that “fill your cup” or give you a sense of flow when you do them. This could include taking a bath, writing a poem, walking the dog, trying a new recipe, watching a movie with the kids or as simple as having a cup of tea. When you have a list of some things that you could do, select one that you could do today as a way to invest in yourself and one that you could do this week. Commit to these and see if you can slowly build on what you can fit in each day or week to enhance your self care. As you start to invest a little more time in your needs, you will start to feel valued and loved. Then you can begin to look at what you might like to change about your thoughts, emotions and interactions with others. For example, you might want to tell someone you love them everyday or when you feel a negative emotion you will take a 5 minute break to fully feel into it. The planning phase can be done over several weeks and is best done incrementally so that you don’t overwhelm yourself with changes and end up feeling guilty for not following through on them all.
5. Take Action
Once you have some plans set out for how you want to think or act differently, it’s time to get started! It’s no use thinking positively or practicing gratitude if you keep acting in the same old ways. Make a conscious effort to start acting in new ways so that you can begin to see and feel the difference. It might be committing to an exercise regime that suits you, relinquishing control over small tasks (will you die if hubby doesn’t take the bin out today?), getting up 5 minutes earlier to set your mindset for the day, catching triggers when they arise and responding differently, or whatever else you feel that will be beneficial to your wellbeing.
I trust that these have been some helpful tips to start pushing your way out of feeling stuck or helpless. You have everything you need inside of you to start making the shift and there is no reason for you to continue suffering.
Let me know how you go in the comments or if you have any other tips to get yourself unstuck!