I Want More Stress!
It is feeling very autumnal (‘fall-ish’ for my North American friends) in Jersey today. Cloud cover is increasing and the mornings are misty. I remember back to the month of October when I was a young girl in school in Vancouver. We had a lot of fog and I used to love to play in it, the thicker the better! I thought it was an exquisite form of hide and seek – hiding without actually having to secret myself away in a closet, under a table or behind a tree. Magic.
The temperatures in Jersey remain relatively warm; one of the benefits of living on an island surrounded by a gulf stream. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn. As I gaze out my window I can clearly see the coast of France in the distance. In between here and there lie the Echerous, a curious group of islands whose land mass sharply increases and decreases with the vast tides of this region. Vacation homes (because nobody actually lives there) have remained in the same family for generations. Right now, there is no wind and that is a rarity in Jersey and so I wonder, is this the calm before the storm?
I think of my early childhood as the calm before the storm. I remember my ‘elders’ saying to me, “Enjoy your childhood. It will go by too fast. Soon enough you will be a grown up and with that comes responsibilities. Enjoy your fun now because life won’t be like that when you are older.”
Did you hear that kind of message when you were a child?
As a NLP Practitioner & Hypnotherapist I understand the affect these seemingly innocent words can have upon us in our formative years. They establish patterns in our thinking that ultimately result in how we think and more importantly, how we feel about ourselves later on in life. I’m certain there was no ill will when my mother said such words to me. I am certain that it was from a place of love. What she was really saying was ‘enjoy being a kid’ and I did. Unfortunately, I also heard, ‘life isn’t fun when you become an adult.’ And so innocently enough, a thinking pattern was formed.
Words have power. Be careful how you use them.
Essentially what I heard was, “You will have fun when you are a child but when you grow up life will stop being fun. And you know what, for a lot of us this does happen. I don’t play in the fog anymore but I do make snow angels.
I had tea with a woman today who said to me, “I can’t say that I every really enjoy…” She like so many other grown-ups are too busy worrying. And worrying, is definitely a learned behaviour that we can all do without. Worrying is using our mind to create something that we don’t want, namely anxiety and stress.
I don’t know of anyone who has ever said to me, “That’s what I want – more anxiety and stress.” Rather, what we all want is to be happy. For me the word is joy. Probably because when I was little, our next-door neighbour planted tulips in a pattern that spelled out ‘J O Y ‘ in their garden. His wife’s name was Joy and when she looked at those tulips in bloom, she felt joy. I could see it in her eyes and the way she looked at her husband. That was such a wonderful gesture of love on his part. Right there, I said to myself – that’s something I want a lot of in my life. Joy. A romantic was born.
And so I suggested to this lovely woman to take just one day out of her year and do all the things she loves to do so her entire day will be one that she enjoys. Just one day out of 365 for ‘enjoyment’. Happily, she told me that tomorrow is going to be the day she does this. Good for her. She is starting a new pattern that I hope will lead to many more days of JOY.
Happy is a natural state for those whose basic needs are met. Anxiety and stress are not. We can nip negative thinking in the bud by using our intelligence. As Richard Bandler, one of the co-creators of Neuro Linguistic Programming says, “Use your brain for a change.”
When we find ourselves about to go into a spiral of negative thought and worry; this is the time to utilize our intelligence. Catch yourself having that thought, then pause. Then choose to interrupt the pattern and do something else.
When we play sports we do this all the time. We pause and think about where we want the tennis ball, the baseball, and the rugby ball to go and then develop a strategy to get the ball there. When we are at the top of a ski run, we pause, look at the terrain and devise a strategy to navigate down the slope. When we are in a bowling alley we don’t simply throw the bowling ball here, there and everywhere. We pause and consider how best to get the ball from Point A to Point B.
The same applies to the game of life. We have a choice about what we think. I choose to think about things that make me feel good. When I catch myself having thoughts that aren’t feeling good, I pause, regroup and change my thoughts. And so through training my brain, I can easily clear my thoughts from the conditioned murk of the mind and choose another thought.
Pause; Interrupt the Negative Momentum of Worry and Choose Another Thought. You are not your thoughts. You think what you think based on your past conditioning.
The key is to catch that negative thought before giving it momentum. Once it has momentum it’s not so easy to interrupt. And if you’ve had that ‘worry’ for years, then it’s going to take some practice to detangle your thought-knot. And that’s a great way to use time, especially when you think about the alternative. Having said that, I know of a lot of people who love their drama. And that’s okay. All of our journeys are different. It’s my choice to work with people who are ready to move beyond their drama.
Having confidence and clarity of our true self = relief from anxiety and stress.
Your calm doesn’t have to become a storm and you can play in the fog or make snow angels at any age.