I read ages ago when I started this blog that when you’re writing, you should always have a person reading it in mind – it helps communicate better to what they care about and helps you tailor your message to this group / individual.
Tonight, from Belfast airport, on the way back from a Leadership program I was coaching on in London, I got a taxi home with a gentleman called Jimmy (changed for privacy). And now I know who I’m writing for today. Jimmy.
I wanted to summarise what we spoke about and help you see that you’re not on your own – and these things happen to so many people.
We got talking about general things initially. How’s Belfast been since I was here on Sunday. Busy night? Looking forward to the weekend etc. Then Jimmy told me he was feeling a little meh. Not great. Not enthusiastic. Not unwell, just not great.
He apologised for feeling like this and said he hoped this didn’t make me feel bad. I said it didn’t and told him what I was doing in London this week, how in coaching if you got emotionally involved with everyone in front of you – you’d be a basket case! You’d appear to be on a roller coaster depending on who came in front of you that day. Like him in the taxi, depending on who gets in – you could be up or down all in a couple of journeys!
Instead, you have to be aware of what the people around you are, or could be, making you feel, but monitor it so you can interrupt it if you want to feel different. In coaching, you have to learn to not get as involved emotionally with people’s stories, and instead coach the person underneath. At least that’s what I do!
And so I told Jimmy this and he told me that he struggles with dwelling on things. Stories in his head. Mistakes he’s made in the past. Things he could’ve done better, yesterday, 2 weeks ago, 6 months ago. And still dwells on them. It’s incredible how many people do this. He lies awake thinking of them, and driving around keeps thinking of these things.
I told him something to consider about this is that he was living in the past. Reliving it. Not changing the meaning, drawing a line and moving on.
I spoke about how to move away from this was to focus on the present moment. We spoke about a couple of things that he could do. I’ll list them first for a quick summary if you want a quick reminder and then talk about each further down.
- Focus on the present moment – breathing / mindfulness / meditation
- Journalling – brain dump or just stream of consciousness whatever comes out.
- Gratitude – write down what you appreciate in your life
- Write what you like about yourself – the good things about you – and love it
- Clean up the inputs you consciously / unconsciously come in contact with – news / media etc. and reprogram your brain with positivity
1. Focus on the present moment – breathing / mindfulness / meditation etc.
I asked him to focus completely on his breathing. Feel the chair underneath him. Feel his feet on the floor. And focus on the moment, rather than these stories. Look up mindfulness videos / apps like Headspace etc. and practice meditation. Sometimes it’s easier to do guided ones initially – so YouTube “guided meditations” and you’ll get some suggestions.
2. Journalling – brain dump or just stream of consciousness whatever comes out.
Another thing that helps is journalling. Jimmy told me he kept lying awake thinking of these things over and over again. I mentioned that when you write these things in your journal – which may make you appear crazy on paper so don’t judge it! – you get the thoughts out of your head, somewhere you won’t forget them – and you can view them a little more objectively rather than emotionally in your head depending on how you’re feeling at the time. Journalling and brain dumping are hugely beneficial. Stream of consciousness is just writing as you think whatever comes into your head and some people prefer this – similar to morning pages in “The Artist’s Way.”
3. Gratitude – write down what you appreciate in your life
I’ve heard it said that you can’t feel fear and gratitude at the same time. I think I believe it now but from experience realise the power of gratitude.
I think this living in the past and story re-telling is fear – fear of making a mistake, fear of not being good enough, fear of what you’ve done / didn’t do / could’ve done better etc. When you’re grateful, you’re focused on the good things that happen, the things you have in your life, the things you’ve experienced in the past and the people you’re lucky to have in your life. This can be done in your head, or in your journal. Write out 10 things you’re grateful for today, and every day. You’ll notice a shift…
4. Write the good things about you – what you like about yourself – and love it
Too often we beat ourselves up for the mistakes we’ve made, and go over this again and again. Imagine the alternative – and talk about / reflect on / journal about all the good things that you like about yourself, things you even love about yourself! What a concept. It’s insane how we focus on all the bad things, instead of the good about ourselves. What if we wrote down: “I like that I’m kind to people – or at least try my best to be kind,” or “I like that I make people smile,” or “I like that I journaled 3 times this week and stuck with what I committed to.” Not hard to do when you see it written down, but difficult because we’re bombarded with negative and problems about everything every time we speak to others, open the newspaper or watch the news. What if we spoke kindly about ourselves AND spoke kindly about each other?! Crazy talk, but necessary for increased happiness I think personally and for society.
5. Clean up the inputs you consciously / unconsciously come in contact with – news / media etc. and reprogram your brain with positivity
Like the last point about writing the good things down, and the point before about practicing gratitude – these things consciously help us to see that there’s good to us and our lives. It can be easy to think that there’s only bad things happening when we open the papers / turn on the news etc. and we take this information in consciously and unconsciously and never think to interrupt the flow or change the flow completely!
Turn off the news. Look up some comedians. Listen to some uplifting / motivating music. Listen to some positive podcasts. Talk to people who are trying to improve the world, rather than complaining about the problems with it. Bombard and brainwash your brain with positivity – you’ll thank yourself for it and so will everyone you come in contact with because there’ll be something different about you than other people. You’ll be a wolf among the sheep – standing above the crowds in a more positive way rather than allowing the negativity to keep you down.
Life is short – and it’s too short to spend it in the past, making your present not as good as it could be which stops you considering a brighter journey towards your future. You can do great things when you become aware of yourself, your thoughts, interrupt them, learn from them, change the meaning, focus on what you want rather than don’t want and do certain things that move you closer to that.
This is only a list of 5 – there’s other posts here about other things and I’ll be adding other posts about similar topics going forward because this seems to be a topic relevant to a lot of people.
Best of luck Jimmy – hope we share a journey again!