How do I stop feeling like this?
One question I am often asked is ‘how do I stop feeling like this?’ The answer is never as simple as the question, but I put a few thoughts down here that will hopefully enlighten you on your journey to peace and happiness…
- Understand that the feeling you have is there because of the thoughts that you are having. For example, I walk into a crowded room of strangers, I think that they will be judging me and not liking what they see = I’m anxious and defensive. If I walk into that same room thinking that everyone looks interested to meet me, and thinking that I would like to make some new acquaintances = I’m confident and curious. Your thoughts and beliefs are hugely powerful.
- Let the past go, know that it no longer exists and recognise how pointless it is to be spending any more energy or time on it. Put your thoughts in the moment, concentrate on the now and what you want to feel, do, be. The past is only useful to us if it brings knowledge, understanding or joy, when it brings pain and suffering, then you need to move on. History does not always repeat itself; just because something may have happened before does not mean it will happen again.
Ulric Neisser, an influential Cognitive Psychologist, and many other psychologists, proposed theories and developed experiments showing that our memories are incredibly flawed and influenced by many different factors, including our perception of self, that they are often unreliable. The past may not be as fixed and factual as you may think.
- Know that your beliefs and thoughts shape your world, believing something will happen may actually bring that thing about, even if it is something that you dread. For example, I fear that I will be rejected when I walk into a crowded room of strangers, this will certainly happen because it always happens, it happened before = I keep my head down and avoid people and so I will not give them a chance to reject me. See the illogic? Our beliefs shape our actions, our actions bring about responses (I bet no-one in the room will bother to talk to me!), responses have the power to create more thoughts in my head, these have the power to make me feel a certain way. Neisser also developed a series of experiments on 'selective looking', now called inattentional blindness; these experiments showed how when we are focussed on one thing, we do not notice quite significant events that occur within our line of vision. You can miss out on a lot of evidence because you are simply focussed on something else. Check out this video if you don’t believe me…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_UuZQhlZ5k
- Be selective about what you call evidence. Liking all things science I find this an easy concept to understand, although I don’t always get it right. What constitutes evidence? I think of evidence as a law court might, there is physical evidence and there is eyewitness evidence. Physical evidence is proof of something that, by its existence, strengthens our case, such as a marriage certificate – this might help to prove to you that you are loved and that someone has made a promise to you. Eyewitness testimony, is evidence from third parties; sometimes we have a very distorted view of our situation and it takes an outside, impartial view to help give another perspective. Be careful though, other people’s opinions are just that, opinions. Listen to them, consider them, decide if they are worth keeping or not. Just chatting to friend can give you a fresh perspective, as well as allowing you to offload; it is amazing how much talking something through can help, it allows you to problem solve and sort through issues, professional services such as counselling and coaching are invaluable.
- Place yourself in the best possible position to be feeling the feelings that you desire. If you want to feel relaxed, do things that relax you; take a bath, go for a walk, talk to a friend. Build enough time into your life to allow for this preparation. You also need to be aware of how much your physical self impacts on your mental and emotional self. Think about the food and drink that you are putting into your body. Alcohol is a depressant and nicotine is a stimulant, so if you think smoking relaxes you, think again. You are what you eat; check out blogs and other information on nutrition - take a look at this one written by my friend and colleague Jean Errington: http://80-20nutrition.com/2014/11/02/crime-and-nourishment/. Learn what suits your body and lifestyle. Exercise releases feel good chemicals in your brain, you will feel happier once you exercise, it’s as easy as that. And I can’t leave sex out – for the 16s and over! The physical and emotional benefits of sex with a loving partner are well documented. Pet owner? Interacting, bonding and petting animals also produce destressing hormones in our bodies and can even prolong life expectancy.
You don’t need to be a victim of your feelings; shape your thoughts, shape your life, shape your world.