Monday, 27 June 2016

Dare to Let Go

We have busy minds. They're jampacked, heavy and laden with the thousands of thoughts darting around throughout the day.

But are these thoughts serving us?

If we believe that our thoughts can create our feelings and behaviours, that they have the power to form our belief systems and change our lives - do we ever stop to check in on their potential impact? Are we letting our negative self talk loop on repeat or are we choosing to change the frequency?

See, our thinking works in patterns and patterns form like habits. In the background of our minds maybe without even realising, we create our mindset and our reality. If it happens that we've created a negative one, we become stuck; a completed craft of interwoven fears, grudges, guilt or regret.

Intentional or not, this can happen and we find we've become hostages in our own lives. Surrounded by self-limiting beliefs, high expectations, part of toxic relationships, doing sh*t we absolutely do not want to be doing. We fall into the rabbit hole. But now it's time to find our wonder.

Now, we need to let go of the stuff that no longer serves us.


1. TAKE NOTE

We've got to become aware of our negative narrative and realise where we're at and why we're unhappy. In all avenues of life, get curious about what has served us and what no longer is. Maybe they're things that had a function at some stage, that came to teach us something, that were challenges to overcome, that have become part of our routines, or are just comforts that we never questioned. Seek to find what their purpose has been and note that they're finished playing that role now. Get interested and invested in your own life and take note of what's draining its reserves.


2. EXPLORE

When you find out what's not working, there's no room for judgement or regret, it's just time to discover what will serve us better. Think about it. Consider things that make you feel light when you think about them, things that bring peace, enjoyment and recharge you. What can you get excited about, what can you bring into your life that'll replace the old heavy burdens? What can you bring into your life that'll serve you? What do you look forward to? Who do you want to be around? What way do you want to feel? Explore the answers to what would serve you best and how they look in your life.



3. LET GO

When we have clearly identified what we do and don't want, we simply need to let go of the latter. We can't grab hold of new opportunities if our hands are still full of junk we don't need. Letting go means putting a stop to the negative spirals, it means no longer engaging in things that don't enhance our experience. It's a challenge, of course it is, because it requires change and moving away from old comforts. But it's the beginning of real growth and significant strides forward.



4. PURSUE

By letting go of the old, we make room for the new. We create a space for that which will actually help us grow, move forward and gain strength. Everything that came to mind in point 2? It's now their time to shine. That's the stuff we need to fill our lives with - the goals, dreams, experiences and excitement that mean something real for us. 

***

We don't have to lethargically amble along, shoulders hunched, enduring our situation and feeling lost. 

Instead we can finally let go of everything holding us back and start to freely grab onto all the good stuff waiting ahead.




Saturday, 18 June 2016

Find Your Fire

Recently I came across a quote that naturally I couldn't help but share on the Dare to Live Facebook from the Tiny Buddha.

 "I survived because the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me."

 As you've likely noticed from the blog before, I've a fairly lengthy list of quotes that I've found helpful, relatable or inspiring. But occasionally I stumble across one that particularly resonates with me and this is definitely one of those.


This quote epitomises the fight I kept throughout my own journey. When it seems as though we cannot handle our own worlds, our challenging experiences and who we are; when we feel overwhelmed, lost and alone; when the fire of the world is simply too hot and we feel as though we're crumbling in its presence - that's when we need to fuel our fire within. And fueling that inner fire, gives us the very best chance of surviving.

Discovering this fire shows us our own strength. It gives us something to fight with, the power to give our all, the belief that we have some chance in the face of challenges. It ignites in the form of passions, dreams, self-discovery, a perspective overhaul, changing thought processes, learning about life, learning how to cope and with each and every exploration within, the fire can only burn increasingly brighter.


When facing challenges with our mental health, it can feel like we're burning in our own fire, the fire around us has whirled its smoke within and it's as though it's this fire that we need to fight. But I believe this one is always separate to who we actually are inside. It's an external entity to the real fighter who will inevitably come out as the victor. Our challenges do not define us so we need to keep them detached; this keeps us in a position to conquer them and survive their attempts to take over.

As with everything, we have a choice, in this case, it's which fire to fuel. We can label ourselves as whatever and let the smoke suffocate us or we can choose to fuel our own inner fighter and survive whatever struggle arises.

Shane Koyczan says in his poem 'Instructions for a bad day',

'Love and hate are beasts and the one that grows is the one you feed'

With anything, what we give focus to will grow, so here's how we can feed our own fire and starve the flames of our challenges.

FUEL

PERSONAL

When faced with adversity, our struggle only comes when we believe we cannot overcome it. To me, the oxygen of our own fire is in who we are. Discovering ourselves and the fundamentals of our personal identity gives us the strength of realising our capabilities, talents and personality traits that'll shine through as real power.


This one takes time and requires plenty of introspective exploration but bit by bit it comes together to show us what we're made of. When we're lost and our self esteem is on the floor, we have no idea how much fiery fuel we have dancing within us. Without knowing who we really are, we miss out on our fighting force. But if we give ourselves the chance to become our own best friend and support - no amount of fire around us can blaze through that.

PASSION

Along the route of figuring out the wonderful mix of what makes us who we are, we stumble upon our beliefs, values and passions. And this is of utmost importance because passion is a force to be reckoned with. Realising what makes us tick allows us to pursue life in a different way. To be able to live in accordance with our values brings a freedom with it. To know what we believe in strengthens our minds and voices. To uncover our passions and dreams - that's where sh*t gets real. This is the stuff that seriously turns up the heat. This is what we need to nourish.


PURPOSE

When we realise our own worth and what we care about, we get to finally see clearly what matters to us. For me, fueling my fire meant building it up to the point that I see my own place in the world and how much it means to me to have that place. It's a chance to see the bigger picture with ourselves included in it. We get to feel our own value running through us. Purpose keeps our fire burning. When we identify that we actually have impact and influence - the fire around is us is going to need to call for back up. 

EXTINGUISH



VICTIM MODE

Believing that we're fated to perish in the fire around us is a great way to make that happen. Feeling like we can't do this, we're not good enough, we'll never conquer this - that's all got to be extinguished. Negativity and diminishing our own self worth only feeds the fire of our challenges. Instead of succumbing to the role of victim, we can fuel our own fire by believing in our roles as victors, as triumphant and strong survivors.



SELF TALK

Critisising our capabilities, harbouring our own fears and just generally being unkind to ourselves needs to stop. If we want to come out on top, we need to support ourselves in doing so. Treat yourself as a friend and extinguish the self-deprecating and destructive self talk. 

GIVING UP ON HOPE

Hope is an incredible force that keeps us protected throughout any surrounding fires. Believing in better, trusting the process and keeping the flame of hope lit will see us through. Even if our hope is a mere spark at the moment, we need to work with it to let it thrive. Survivors do not give up.


***

The fire within is always there, even if it's only gently smouldering; there is always light. This is ours to ignite and diligently fuel if we want to.

Sure, the inferno outside may rise and fall at different times, but if we keep our own burning bright, it'll never extinguish our fiery desire to survive.


Monday, 6 June 2016

10 Simple Mood Boosters

Some days just get us down. You know the ones where nothing's really going right? The morning's groggy grumpiness lingers til lunchtime and before we know it we've had just about enough of the whole day. Our list of complaints cascade from our minds, catastrophising every little thing that didn't go our way. We woke up late, we burnt our tongue on our brekkie, we missed the bus, every pedestrian in front of us is walking at a snail's pace, we get stressed out at work, have no time to ourselves etc etc.

These days come. And these days go.

But it'd probably be in our best interest to not let them spiral. Of course these moods happen, that's natural. We can get cranky, down, irritable or just plain p*ssed off and this can be a fairly effective way to ruin our day - but only when we choose to let those bad moments become a bad day.

Personally, I've found that when these 'bad moods' strike, I can absolutely milk it and be a grumpy youknowwhat for the remainder of the day or I can do something to make myself feel better. (Trust me, the latter works out nicer!)

The thing about our moods and feelings that we tend to forget, is that we have the power to change them. Thoughts create feelings, and we can always change our thinking.

So even when we feel like we're about to lose our damn minds, it turns out that they're the only thing we can definitely use to cultivate contentment. When the external situations are a swirl of negativity and stress, we need to tap into the power that we actually have to deal with them - how we think about them.


'It's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it that matters.'


We need to use our minds to our advantage, not against ourselves. We need to get in touch with the tools we already have to boost our mood, and y'know actually start using them... Here's some suggestions to get started:



1. SMILE 


Even when we don't want to, the act of smiling has been shown to be effective in boosting our moods. Force it if you have to but even through gritted teeth a smile can make us feel better. Plus it's pretty easy and it's entirely free.  

2. GET SOME LIGHT

When it makes an appearance, getting into the sunshine is a great mood booster. Even for just a few minutes, soaking up that Vitamin D can help to improve how we feel. 
If the clouds aren't showing any leeway, just throwing your curtains wide and letting the light in can make a difference too. When you think about it, it just makes sense when you feel shrouded in darkness to actively let the light in.

3. TALK

We all know how good it can feel to rant away when we're feeling down, so try to use this instead of allowing it all bubble beneath the surface. Or even talk about something different if that feels better. Expression helps us to process what's going on in our minds so getting it out can really lift the weight of a dark mood.

4. MUSIC

Music is quite a powerful tool for all moods - whether we need to be soothed, energised or just chilled out there's gonna be a song out there that's sure to suit. Sometimes we just need to stick in the earphones and get away from all the other noise in order to come back to ourselves.

5. MOVE

Even when the desire to cocoon ourselves in a miserable fort in our room is seriously strong, it can be significantly more helpful to get up and physically do something. Take a stroll, have a little dance, stretch from your head to your toes - find movement that'll lift you out of that funk. There's definitely some science out there to back this one up!

6. AFFIRMATIONS

When we feel like we're having a bad day, we need to watch our language. Negative self-talk often kicks into overdrive on these days and we've got to take control of shutting that up. Affirm how you would like to feel, affirm the good parts of the day, use your own language to create a positive mindset regardless what has happened. Practice beginning sentences with 'At least' and positive 'I am' statements. As you continue with this kind of translation, your positive language gradually becomes more fluent.

7. GRATITUDE

An attitude of gratitude is a powerful tool. There is always always always something to be grateful for. When everything seems to be the absolute worst, it's your job to find the good, find something to be thankful for and then seek more and more. Write it out in a list and actually see how much good there is in your life. A bad mood simply cannot compete with that.

8. VISUALISE

See your day as you would like it to be. See yourself as you'd like to be. See your dreams, your personal goals, your ideal. Put vivid colour and feeling into it, make it real and feel how you'd like to feel. Repeat this image until it's crystal clear, strengthening the feelings you have about it. This is yours and you can bring it to mind at any time. When life gets you down, bring forward this picture. This picture is possibility. Connect with it and make it your very own mood booster.

9. PHOTOS

Take and keep photos of things that make you happy. Capturing memories gives us something to look back on fondly at any time. Whether it's on our phone, in our heads, in a journal or even a scrapbook, I think it's so helpful to have a little stash of happiness that you can revisit whenever it's needed. We just need to keep that little stash to hand and add to it frequently.

10. CHECKLIST

Productivity can feel damn good, so when you're feeling a bit meh - get active. Write a to-do list and tick each little task off one by one. Accomplishing tasks can be a great little mood booster, plus you get the added bonus of actually getting things done! Tidy your room, make a meal, organise your wardrobe, send an email, read an article - whatever it is, write it down and tick it off. It feels goood.

~~~

Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list, there are so many things we can do for ourselves to boost our mood. But when we're in the height of it, these are the things that are generally furthest from our minds so it's time to bring them forward.

Maybe we could even avoid the term 'bad mood' altogether and aim to identify what we're really feeling. Quite often it stems from something else, but brandishing it under one swift label might leave us missing the point and losing our solution. 

It's worth remembering that sometimes certain suggestions will work better, sometimes we'll need a whole different approach but that's up to us to figure out. If we're agitated maybe we need soothing, if we're stressed maybe there's relaxation required, if we're anxious we might need reassurance. It'll differ for each of us and for each feeling, so we need to become aware and listen to what's actually going on so we can help ourselves accordingly.

If we want to be happy, we need to take control and create it in the moments where it's lacking, however we can. Maybe you find that it's a walk, a comedy, making a plan, reading a book, having a bath, doing a good deed, having a cuddle, playing with your dog, a cup of coffee, some chocolate, tidying your room - the point of this is to discover what has a place on your very own list. 


What is going to lift your mood when it's weighing you down?

'Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light'.