Tag Archives: self-help

Unsticking the Stuck

Stuck. That’s where I am. Not in the middle with you. Just stuck.

In fairness, today was a day that invited melancholy. It dawned grey and grisly, with a thorough downpour. And not forgetting it was a Monday. Factor in a house undergoing renovations (read: no roof. I repeat: NO ROOF!) and you are probably getting an idea of how my week kicked off. (Ferrying soggy cardboard boxes around as their bottoms fell open spilling my worldly goods on the ground and generally feeling sorry for myself.)

But actually the weather and the worldly goods spilling on the ground weren’t really the problem, if I’m honest. I was just having one of those stuck days. Those days where the awareness of the length of your to-do list weighs so heavily on your shoulders that you can’t hold your head up straight. But equally you’d rather check in on Facebook just one more time rather than face action-ing just one of those suckers. And let’s face it, it’s not your fault. If you can’t hold your head up high enough to look at your to-do list then you can’t really be expected to tackle it, now can you.

So that’s how my Monday went. Avoiding. Sitting. Hitting ‘like’ on Facebook. Letting my woes mount. And then it struck me. The way to become unstuck.

There is no one item on my to-do list right now that will make me feel immeasurably better through doing. But there is one thing. And that thing is writing. Which is why I’m here. Unsticking the stuck.

Please bear with me. And you? What do you do when you need to shake things up? Have you a cure I need to know?

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Anger Management

I can be a *tad* moody sometimes. (Read: I have been known to scream in a Basil Fawlty-esque manner and kick inanimate objects over what might seem minor irritations to more zen-like beings.) Not all the time, but some times. And it’s never nice. Not for me or for those around me.

The problem is that once you find yourself in that wound up state it’s very hard to get yourself out of it. At least that’s my experience. And the truth is that the kicking and screaming doesn’t help. You think it will be a release, and it may be for a micro-second, but then the anger bounces back and winds you even tighter.

Tonight I found myself escalating into one such mood. I caught myself tossing toys into their boxes with increasing force as I tidied up the play room. I was snappy and belligerent with my other half. I made more noise doing the dishes than a jumbo jet on take off.

Luckily for me my other half isn’t one to let me get away with it. He challenged me to explain my mood. I couldn’t at first. I really didn’t know why I was feeling so goddamned grumpy but I was. As he probed further and I got rattier, eventually it sprang to the surface. I was actually feeling hurt and left out by a friend. I blurted out my grievances in a rush, surprising even myself with the source. I cried a little. (Well, quite a lot actually.)

I got it off my chest. And then I felt better.

The key is finding the source. Generally speaking it’s not actually the thing at which we are throwing the shoe and mostly it’s not even the person at whom we are snapping. More often than not it’s some hurt within ourselves. Looking in and asking the question can really take the wind out of the gale of anger that is blowing.

Once my brave other half had helped me to identify the source he went so far as to propose a solution. If I’m feeling left out then I need to make the effort to reach out. Instead of feeling angry with people for not calling me or including me in their plans I need to be the one making the calls and the plans. Taking control of my life and my moods.

Simples eh? Like all the best things in life, it’s magnificent simplicity and profound complexity all rolled into one. Now there’s something to meditate on.

 

One Simple Technique That Will Change Your Life

It’s true. Slightly hyperbolic but true nonetheless. And, what’s better, it’s not even a technique that you need to learn. It’s something we all do, all of the time. You just need to become aware of it and choose to focus it positively.

Visualization.

It’s as simple as that. Visualizing a positive outcome. Picturing what you want to happen. Keeping your eye on the prize.

It really works. You do move towards what you focus on. It’s like riding a bike. Look where you want to go. Don’t look down, or you’ll have a wobble. Don’t look back or you may take a tumble – you’ll certainly slow down.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I can be pretty good at catastrophizing. Particularly on those nights when I wake in the wee small hours, mind churning with work undone, bills unpaid, forms unfilled. I can quickly work myself up into a sitting-bolt-upright state of sleeplessness. That’s me scuppered. It’s entirely counter-productive.

Keeping my eyes on the prize....climbing onwards and upwards

Keeping my eyes on the prize….climbing onwards and upwards

So, recently I have decided to stop it. Now I know from bitter experience that when you’re lying awake in the dark busily catastrophizing it can be far from simple to just stop. The secret is not aiming to just quiet and still the anxieties that are pressing in but instead to replace them. By visualizing positive outcomes I leave no space in my head for the niggling anxieties. I busy my mind with lovely stuff, with dreams and fantasies and ideals. With what I want to happen.

And soon enough, I fall asleep with a smile on my face and wake the next morning to face the day refreshed and raring to go, ready to make those dreams a reality.

Try it – you might just surprise yourself with how easy it is and what a big difference it can make to your life! And if you do, please come by and tell me how it worked out for you.

 

Treating Your Self

I’m an acupuncturist by profession. As such I know very well the power of this ancient holistic treatment. And yet I can go months without having any acupuncture treatment myself. This, despite expending a lot of my own energy in treating others and despite my own wise recommendations to patients about the importance of maintaining health and preventing illness and not waiting until symptoms appear before looking after one’s self.

I’m reminded of this because yesterday I felt shocking. I was stressed and anxious and drained and as a result felt unable to tackle any of the tasks that I needed to do and that the doing of would have made me feel better. The classic vicious circle. And so it was that I spent most of the day in a fug of mental wheel spinning.

The good thing about feeling bad is that it can force you to look for ways out. And so it was that at about 3pm yesterday that I remembered that I am an acupuncturist and I can help people who feel stressed and anxious. *Light bulb* I took a half hour out of my busily unproductive day to give myself a treatment. And I eased up on myself a bit, taking it steady for the rest of the day, feeling confident that I would feel better the next day and that then would be the time to get stuff done.

And I was right. Today I feel great and I’ve had a really positive, productive day which in turn has fired me up even more. The classic virtuous circle. Now I’m not telling you this to big up acupuncture (although, really, if you haven’t tried it go get yourself some!) I’m telling you this because it made me think how so many of us are rubbish at treating ourselves. Or, indeed, our selves.

Somehow it can be so much easier to give great advice to a friend than to oneself. To see how someone else can help themselves, to have compassion for another. Sometimes we all need to turn inwards and treat our selves, whether that be with a trip to an acupuncturist, a therapist, a friend or with a drop of auto-compassion.

The real trick is remembering to do it before the need becomes vividly apparent. My promise to myself is to treat my self regularly. It’s going in the diary, in a different coloured ink to the rest of my ever expanding to-do list!

How about you? Are you prepared to commit to treating your self? And how will you do it?

Step 2

My commitment to not checking every social media and online news site first thing in the morning has continued. I have actually managed to do it. Just. So, well done me. But. After the first couple of days of my new, slimmed-down internet regime the rewards became less noticeable. Day 1 and 2: a massive surge in productivity and optimism. Days 3 and on: meh. I seem to have slyly managed to slip my tendency to mindless internet use into spaces in the rest of my day. Squeezing my chewing gum for the mind into slivers of gaps that then gradually open up into massive craters. Black holes of mind-numbing wasted time.

Time to do something more. I guess we just become accustomed to our new ploys so quickly that if we’re not constantly reviewing and renewing there is a tendency to stagnate. Now I need to look at regulating my internet use more generally. Which bits of it are killing my creativity and which are enhancing it? Blogging helps. Facebook doesn’t.

I don’t have anything against Facebook per se. It’s the way I use it. I have it open on my desktop and it is the perfect time kill when I should be doing something else that maybe I’m not so keen on. I can browse photos for hours. Aimlessly. Mindlessly. Not because I’m enjoying it particularly but because it’s such a perfect form of procrastination. And then I end up hating myself because I haven’t achieved the things I want to. It’s not like reading a book or going for a walk or doing something that I genuinely enjoy and that feeds my energy and enthusiasm. It’s a non-activity that serves purely to sap my energy and prevent me from doing.

So. Step 2. Curb Facebook use. Close that tab. Check it once a day. In the evening. *Does one last, nervous check.* Think I can safely close it for the day without fear of the world tumbling in on me.

This may be more difficult than Step 1. But perhaps that means it will also be more rewarding. Stay tuned to find out.

Day 1 Of Putting the Internet In Its Place

Well, I did it! For the first morning in a long time I refrained from checking my email and social media sites before getting out of bed. I almost didn’t manage it. As I pawed my phone to turn off my alarm, in my sleep befuddled state I found myself clicking on an email alert without even realizing what I was doing. In a flash I woke up fully and stopped myself. Then I put my phone down and got on with my morning. Internetless.

Now it may be a coincidence (I think not) but today has been my most productive day in a long time. I feel positive and capable and empowered. Instead of miring myself in internet-based procrastination first thing, I sat down with my to-do list and started to tackle it item by item. I don’t know about you but for me getting off to a good start in the morning is crucial. It sets the tone for my entire day. Thus if I start off with one simple, positive, proactive act my positivity and proactivity is likely to multiply throughout the day. And the converse is true too.

Thus it may seem a small step but it is a small step that leads to other small steps and before you know it you’ve travelled some distance.

Those 21 notifications will just have to wait.

Those 21 notifications will just have to wait.

Putting the Internet in Its Place

This may sound a little odd coming from a blogger, direct from my keyboard tapping fingers to your flashing screen, but I’ve been considering the negative effects of too much screen time recently. I know, I know. ‘Stop press!’ I’m not the first to be concerned by this but I never claimed to be unique. We’re all unique and we’re all Every(wo)man, in my humble opinion.

The internet has transformed my life. And mostly in a good way. It facilitates my entire lifestyle. I literally could not live where I do now (in a remote mountain village in northern Spain) were it not for the internet. My partner and I both work remotely, online. That’s how we can live here and still support ourselves. Socially, it means we can stay in touch with friends and family despite our geographical distance. Skype (whilst endlessly frustrating!) is a godsend. Recreationally, the internet lets us watch films and television in our own language and from our culture and allows us to buy English language books and have them delivered in an instant to our devices.

Quite simply the internet rocks.

But. The flip side is that I spend an awful lot of time sat in front of a computer screen. And when I’m not doing that I’m often clutching a smartphone or an ipad in my hand. The first thing I do in the morning is reach for my phone. In fairness, that’s actually so I can switch the alarm off. But then the very next thing I do is check my email and Facebook. Like there can be something there that I need to know right then, before I’ve even woken up, had a sip of tea, or got my son up and ready for school. It’s not like I’m going to be able to do anything about anything right in that moment. Other than worry or be distracted by them. The reason I check them can only be a delaying tactic, yet another procrastinating tool in my already extensive armoury. It cannot serve a positive end.

So, maybe I should just stop here. I have clearly identified one area where my use of the internet is unhealthy and unhelpful. Here is one simple change I can make to regain control of my internet use and to shove it firmly further back into the ‘purely positive’ section of my life.

The challenge: don’t check my social media and email first thing in the morning. Make it wait till I’m back from the school run and ready to start work proper. Simples. Let’s see how that goes for a week and then review. At which point I may be able to identify some other area where I have allowed my use of the internet to tip over into a negative force and I can add a new challenge.

How about you? Are you in control of your internet use? Anyone fancy joining me in my early morning ban on the internet?