You can’t change what you don’t know
My ex-husband used to say that no one was going to talk bad about his baby.
He told me that all the time because I was always talking terribly about myself, to myself, out loud & he could hear me.
I’d been doing it my whole life but I never knew until he compassionately pointed it out to me.
That was the beginning of me becoming aware of the chaos in my head.
I was amazed & horrified to see the non-stop, combative, defensive & self-destructive thoughts that ran through my mind.
I was always rehashing or imagining conflict & feeling the painful emotions of those thoughts.
It was as if I was addicted to the rush of pain that would explode in my heart & course through my body.
I was constantly seeking thoughts that created that feeling. I didn’t know anything different because I’d been doing that my whole life.
Growing up in a painful environment tends to create destructive patterns.
Over the last 10 years I changed that pattern.
Awareness was the beginning of how I freed myself from the mental prison I had created.
For the first few years all I could do was become aware of my thoughts & feelings.
Stopping my thoughts or choosing different ones was like trying to stop a freight train with a feather.
Awareness was hard enough after 30 years on auto-pilot.
But once I was aware, I slowly began to create a new mental pattern.
I figured if repetitive thoughts could lead to a negative pattern then they could also lead to a positive one. And they did.
Through awareness, I was able to understand & unravel the mental programs that ran my mind & formed my unconscious reactions.
Then, through deliberately focusing my attention I consciously created new good feeling programs.
Meditation & mindfulness practices are the main tools that I use to focus my attention in ways that lead to good feeling thoughts & emotions & positive, constructive actions.
My top 5 favorite practices are:
- Mindful Meditation – focus on breathing, when the mind wanders, bring it back to the breath, repeat for about 20 minutes.
- Mindful Walking (with my dog Raven) – cease all thought by using all 5 of my senses to fully engage with nature, when I start thinking, focus on my senses again, repeat
- Morning & Night Gratitude – before my feet touch the floor in the morning & before I fall asleep at night, I list everything I’m grateful for….some days the list is longer than others, but I can always list at least 3 – I can eat when hungry, drink when I’m thirsty & have at least one person to lean on when I need a friend
- Mindful Breathing – just a few seconds of taking a few purposeful breaths does wonders for the body & mind
- Playing with my dog Raven – makes her happy, makes me happy, moves my body & keeps my fully engaged in the present moment
Even when we have a positive, healthy mental pattern, managing our thoughts & emotions is an ongoing process for all of us.
It’s easy to allow life’s events to create worry & anxiety because our brains are wired to be more negative than positive.
When you can be aware of your reactions instead of mindlessly going with your automatic thought & emotion, you can take a pause & choose for yourself.
Each time you do that, you are creating a new mental pattern of awareness & conscious choice.