Self-doubt, self-blame, self-criticism are normal and healthy parts of being human. They keep us in check. But for many of us, they get out of hand. Our protective parts become 'panicked protectors' and therefore sabotage our plans. When this happens we need to step back, calm the nervous system and practise some mindful reflection. One of the simplest things we can practice is appreciation. This is subtly different from gratitude. Appreciation is to recognise the value of what is present. In this blog, I'll explain why and how to do this.
Sometimes the process of therapy, self-development and working on our goals can feel endless, fruitless, pointless and downright exhausting. In these moments we can get filled up with self-doubt.
Negative thinking is normal
This is the beginning of negative and catastrophic thinking, an old friend of mine. It will always be a companion because our brains evolved to seek problems, even when we are OK. In fact ESPECIALLY when we are doing OK. It protects us from becoming complacent and it is millions of years old. It's primal. You can't outsmart it. You can work with it though.
It basically wants to know that we are OK. So here is what I do:
1. Appreciate your challenging situation - Investigate the situation and your worries in the WORST case - what would you do if all your worries came to pass?
2. Appreciating your struggles as achievements - especially considering your past personal challenges
Appreciate your challenging situation
I came up with this tool a while ago and I still use it today. It was a realisation I had when I was trying too hard to 'think positively' and was just finding myself exhausted and miserable. Then I remembered the backwards law:
'Needing' a positive experience is itself a negative experience; Appreciating a negative experience is a positive experience"
When I pause and do this I often feel so much better and I have an action to move myself forwards, appreciating the negatives are actually OK. So what about a deeper level of appreciation?
Appreciating your struggles as achievements
Even when we are having a crappy time we can pause and reflect on how the struggle is part of the success. We often forget this. We think it's hopeless because we don't take the time to remember our context and just how challenging life is and therefore how well we are doing. This morning I took a moment from my self-critical mind and remembered to celebrate my achievements and milestones more
This week I:
Living life with purpose can be a weekly or daily occurrence. I like to set a mostly intention and track it each day, particularly in bed before sleeping. I ask myself how I did with this today. It accelerates my progress so much to celebrate small victories. In the past I have got better at so many things with this technique including:
My current intention is 'loving self-discipline and I'm tracking this very simple as you'll see by the image below. So I'll leave you with the question - how can you pause and appreciate your challenging situation and your achievements today? Would you like to begin by setting an intention for a small change? What would that be?
Good luck and warm wishes.
Neil Morbey, Mindfulness Coach
Neil Morbey is a meditation teacher, group facilitator and inspiration guide for Positively-Mindful.com