Here’s what we explored:
- there’s a LOT going on in the world and at some level, we’re using up mental energy just trying to make sense of a world that is changing fast
- acknowledging that our capacity may seem diminished is a good first step
- we may all be carrying more stress under the surface than we realise
- noticing you’re more reactive is a sign that we’re running more stressful thinking than we may realise
- giving ourselves a break and giving others a break can be really helpful just now
- our brains tend to look for safety and so we can be running a lot of thinking about safety and security in the face of all the unrest we perceive. The brain likes what’s familiar because it can conserve energy and not work so hard. It doesn’t like uncertainty.
- there’s information in the fact of feeling stressed but it may not be the information we think
- we tend to want to think we have to wade in and try to fix all our problems which often look huge and difficult
- yet we begin to see we’re not very well equipped to deal with those so-called problems when we’re stressed, we tend to lack clarity, access to common sense and perspective. But we know that, right?
- being more reactive than usual suggests we’re experiencing stressful thinking and that can be a little alarm call that the system needs a tune-up like an engine that’s running at too fast an idle speed (which also wears out the engine)
- when you’re at the effect of stressful thinking, anxious thinking, or some other state that feels tense, you can acknowledge it, even give a sentence or two about it
- but you can’t focus on the problem and the solution at the same time, for example, if your car breaks down when you have to get to the airport. So if we go into catastrophizing about what will happen now e.g. missing the flight, then there is no space for solutions to arise e.g. get a taxi, call a neighbour
- when the engine idle speed is too fast, it’s like having your foot on the gas in neutral. To slow the engine down all we need to do is take our foot off the gas
- our psychological system wants to come back into equilibrium just as our physical body rallies to heal if we get e.g. a minor cut. It will do that if we get out of the way.
- Carla notices her own thinking has settled down during this podcast
- exponential thinking is when we pile on more and more negative thinking on top of the basic fact e.g the car won’t start, then we add all this meaning: why is this happening? it always happens to me. That comes from the past or catastrophizing into the future.
- when we wake up to how we can pile things on and stress ourselves out it helps us ‘take our foot off the gas’
- accessing fresh ideas and clarity is difficult when we’re really steamed up or agitated.
- when you have a lot on your mind, reactivity is likely. With a very full cup, if you pour more water in, it’s going to overflow.
- realizing this is what is going on, can help us give more grace to ourselves and others
- when you’re in a state of distress, the first and only thing to pay attention to is letting your mind come down to a more settled state
- on the other side of the reactivity when you’re more settled is where the helpful stuff can arise
- for example: in the middle of frustration it’s going to be really hard to find solutions eg for Carla with her Instagram account, but when the frustration calms down, new thinking will arise
- what about situations that feel more urgent, or important, is there a way to take your foot off the gas and settle your thinking?
- box breathing is a technique, breathing into the count of four, holding to the count of four and breathing out to the count of four and holding to the count of four can be helpful at times
- curiously in a ‘real’ crisis, people often find clarity and they know exactly what to do, they could deal with it and cope with it. Conversely, when there wasn’t big stuff going on they could find they experienced more anxiety and less clarity
- people in conflict zones or emergency rooms often have immense clarity and simply act, doing what they see to do. That is because they have don’t have a lot of thinking on their minds.
- whereas when we have a lot of thinking on our minds, we can have a lot of commentary, self-criticism which clouds our mind, as if that self-conscious part of ourselves, our little self or the persona or ego wants to run things
- so it looks as if we can really trust ourselves, there is something bigger than us, that is living us and even when that ego gets into the driving seat and we can suffer, we mostly still find our way
- a shift in thought, can give us a new perspective at any time, even something as simple, as, “I’ll leave this alone and do something else for now”, can be the perfect solution for that moment.
- Elizabeth Gilbert talks about welcoming the voice of fear, the ego but making sure it gets in the back seat, not getting too identified with it.
- when you focus on the problem, that’s all you see: it’s the same with our ego, when we give that a lot of oxygen, when we over-identify with it, then it gets louder. Even then we can find our way through. All of it is ALL made of thought
- who we think we are is not fixed, it changes all the time – and what does that tell us?
- making peace with what’s happening AND with our overactive ego
- it’s comical to see how the flavours of reactivity are very similar: irritable, mean, short-tempered, withdrawing, snappy, grumpy – we’re all the same with a few variations
- when you get a bunch of stressed and reactive people together and it goes BOOM. If just one person sees what’s going on, it can lead to that settling, that moment of clarity and something different might occur: even just keeping our mouths shut
- this is the human condition and to pretend it isn’t is a type of spiritual bypassing
- that persona/ego can be loud and obnoxious and it just wants to be heard
- taking our foot off the gas and allowing curiosity to arise to find what treasure and gift might be there
- one way of talking about what the Three Principles is pointing at is simply love and understanding and there is no place of reactivity where love and understanding wouldn’t help. If we can’t extend love and understanding to ourselves; it is hard to find it for others
- love and compassion is closer than we think, just take our foot off the gas pedal
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
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Carla is a mindset & performance coach working with high achieving, high-performance entrepreneurs who are dealing quietly with anxiety.
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Poet & 3 Principles facilitator, Juliet loves exploring and pointing towards freedom of mind for those curious to engage more fully with all aspects of their life.
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