Monday, 9 May 2016

How Can You Come to Know Who You Are?

So today I have had two emails about how we can know who we are and how we can come to know who we are and I wanted to look at the connection between not knowing our true nature and depression, stress and anxiety. 

What is our true nature and why is it integral to our wellbeing? 

I think that we know at heart what the core of our nature is about. It is what we are drawn to most, what we are drawn towards even when we are far away from our true nature, what binds us together, what all pleasant feelings emanate from. I think and there is plenty of evidence to support this...that at the core of all of us is Love. It is what we seek in our connections, it is what we seek to have for ourselves, it is what we crave, it is what we feel most deeply when it is lost.

So if our true nature is love, how is this connected to feelings of stress, anxiety or depression? 

Because the flip side of the love coin is fear. Whenever we feel fear we are deciding to move away from our true nature and it doesn't feel good.

Examine any situation in which you have felt uncomfortable recently and look closely at what your actions were, what words you used to describe it, how you felt...somewhere in there, perhaps disguised as anger, or as hatred or as irritation there will be a fear at the core, a need that is not being met, a movement away from love.

It can be hard at first to see that fear may be at the heart of any uncomfortable feeling - we don't really like to acknowledge fear, far more agreeable to the ego is the idea that we are not afraid we are just really pissed off, we are not afraid we just really dislike someone...but the ego is just protecting us from the fact that actually - we feel fear.

Don't believe me? 

Have a go at this exercise below and see where it leads you:

1) Write down in brief a situation where you felt uncomfortable for any reason

2) Name the emotions that you connect to this situation and write them down

3) Take each of those emotions and look at what fear could be connected to it - some of our biggest underlying fears are fear of death, fear of failure, fear of change, fear that everything will stay the same, fear of loss of identity...however there are hundreds more! Which might have been the underlying fear for you, even if you did not experience the emotion of fear at the time?

Here is an example: 

I was deeply annoyed by a lady who cut me up in traffic the other day, she wasn't looking, she pulled straight out and didn't even acknowledge what she had done. I was pretty damn angry! When I look at this more deeply though I can see that my anger was born out of fear that I could have been harmed. I was afraid that I was not important enough for her to care about cutting me up and potentially hurting me, I was afraid that I would want to retaliate...there were actually lots of fears tied up in this one simple experience!!

So if everything we are comes down to choosing to either love or to fear in every situation how can we come to know more easily that love is the choice we really want to take deep down? How can we move out of fear without leaving ourselves more open to being hurt by our vulnerability? How can we learn to experience ourselves without fear? 

The following exercise can be very useful:

1) Remember a time when you felt incredibly loved, when you felt love for another with a purity that meant that there was no other emotion in your mind or body other than love.

2) When this feeling is really strong inside you stand up and hold that feeling throughout your whole body, give it a colour or an image and spread that colour or image throughout every part of you.

3) Imagine another version of yourself standing right in front of you. Imagine that this you is the most loving version of you could ever envisage. This is far from you being a walk over, this is you being so loving to yourself as well as others that you know that there is no other possible outcome for this version of you than to feel the power of being loved and so secure in that love that you know you can give it to every single person and situation without being harmed.

4) When this image is really strong, literally step forward into this version of yourself and see how great it feels.

There are a thousand ways to come to know who you are, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude....the idea behind all of them is that we choose love over fear...the only thing you really need to do is make a conscious choice every time as to which it is that you want to express in every moment.

Just a small snippet of how many great things can come from your life when you learn to heal the gap between love and fear...and begin to overcome depression, stress and anxiety. If you want to learn more have a look at my website or join my Facebook Group Positive Potential and get Coaching and Advice from some amazing people for free.

Love Nova xxx

Thursday, 5 May 2016

How do you Bring on Depression?

Hang on a minute...did you say how do I, bring on depression?? I don't bring it on! It just arrives! I don't choose it! 

I can hear you...I know that some of you will be thinking this when you read the title...but yes, I really do want to talk about how YOU create your own depressive state - and this is a good thing because if it is true that you bring it about then it also means that YOU are in charge of your state and can therefore change it.

What I want you to do is to really notice, really consciously notice what happens when you feel depressed. I want you to note what thoughts come to you JUST BEFORE the state of feeling depressed arrives, I want you to notice how you hold your body, what your breath does, what your face does, where your thoughts go next. I want you to keep noticing this and to keep writing it down somewhere until you see clearly how you are able to 'go to' depression and also how you are able to 'go away from' depression by countering the actions that led you there in the first place.

I use this method with my clients and it is incredibly empowering (for want of a better word, I feel that one is a bit overused)...go through the steps below and write down everything for at least a week, preferably for a month. 

1) Notice when you are feeling depressed and rate your depth of feeling from 0-10 0 being not depressed at all and 10 being the most depressed you have ever felt.

2) Notice how you are holding your body in that moment, have you hunched your shoulders, started to look towards the floor, moved your body closer together so it is less open...what does your body language look like when you are feeling depressed? Write it down.

3) Notice what is happening to your breath when you are feeling depressed, has it got shallower, has it become harder to breath? Does your breathing seem different in any way to normal? Write what you observe down.

4) Notice what you thought right before you felt depressed - was it a small fleeting thought? Did you think of a person? Did you think of a worry you have about the future? Did you feel sorry for yourself? Write down the thought you had no matter how vague that was.

5) Notice the predominant feeling that you have when you are depressed - use a different word other than simply to state that you feel 'depressed', look on a deeper level at it, are you worried, afraid, do you feel loss, anger, emotionless...write down the words that come to mind and pick out the one that was the predominant one in that moment.

6) Notice where you are - are you alone? With people? At a social gathering? At home? In a cafe? Write down your location when the feeling was strong.

7) Notice the time of day - write down the time of day or night that it was when you felt that way.

  • Then I ask clients to keep a track of all these things for at least a week so that we can pick out patterns together and understand the picture that makes up their Depression Data. This data is then used to create the opposite effect. 
  • Look at your data after a week or more and see where you can immediately alter your body language when you start to feel depressed - fling your arms open wide if you are normally closed, deepen your breath, lift your head up.
  • Look at the thoughts you had to see where the real issue lay and get to work on that issue so that the root of the problem can be brought to light.
  • Look at which settings can be triggers for you and get into a positive state before you enter them again and use different body language when you are there.

This is just a very quick overview of a more complex procedure, but it is a window into the room where we know and understand that we can alter our state very quickly and purposefully if we know what happens when our state is depression - all we need to do is change from following one pattern to creating a new one. We have the power to do that.

For more support and to ask me questions and get answers for free, I would like to invite you to join the intimate Facebook Group called Positive Potential where you can share in confidence with people who understand and who are there to support one another in their path to a more positive way of life. I look forward to meeting you there.

Love Nova xxx

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Looking into the Mirror of Depression

Life is very sends us information all the time about what is going on for us and one of the quickest and clearest ways to understand that information is to look at what is going on externally in order to also understand our internal world.

This means that if you are struggling to understand why you are feeling depressed or what factors are keeping you in a state of depression you can look to your outside experiences for clues.

This is such a useful tool that I recommend it more than any other to my clients - if you want to understand yourself or your state of mind better, look to the outside world as a reflection of the inside and you will see the areas that are causing you pain. Once you know this you can choose to work on them or to change them - that is, to work on you and to change you.

Imagine your life as a huge mirror, imagine that every part of your life is a reflection of a part of you, that every interaction, every event, every person and everything you notice is in some way telling you something about yourself and examine it.

This is not as crazy as it sounds and it can be incredibly insightful for you if you are willing to use it as a tool.

Let me give you an example: 

You know that you are having the experience of depression and you are ready to move out of that and into another state of mind - perhaps this desire is reflected in your life by you wanting to move house, to change relationships, to explore another country or to take a weekend away. You are literally wanting to change state (i.e location) and your mind is telling you this through your desire to remove yourself from a situation you are in. It is, in reality yourself that you want to change but if you are unaware of this you can instead create the desire for change in another more recognisable way, by having the thoughts of 'I need to get away', 'I need space from this', 'I need a fresh start'.

Another example might be: 

You are experiencing a lot of conflict in your life with other people, it seems that wherever you go you are finding disagreement, separateness and isolation. This is more often than not an indication of an internal conflict in you, perhaps you are conflicted because you are feeling one thing and doing another or that you are not expressing yourself authentically - you are not being you.

Perhaps there is a sense of isolation because you are internally isolating a part of you that you do not like and ignoring it - that part of you that you don't like will also be reflected in the people you meet that you do not like - what you dislike in them is likely to be the same thing that you dislike about yourself and are ignoring or failing to deal with.

How are you experiencing those closest to you? 

Are those close to you acting distant or as though they don't care or that they are not listening to you anymore? Where are you not listening to yourself or others? Where are you not caring about yourself? What part of you have you become distant from?

What feels uncomfortable? 

When we are affected by the behaviour of another we are being shown a behaviour that we are uncomfortable with in ourselves. When we find someones behaviour unacceptable it is often because we are being shown where we need to step up - if someone is bullying you, where have you become the victim? Where are you the bully of your own life? When someone is confusing you with their 'now I love you, now I don't' behaviour where are you not being consistent in your own life and behaviours? When someone is not committed to you, where are you not committed to yourself?

Our lives are reflections of our thoughts and behaviours - what is being reflected to you? What does your mirror tell you about what might be going on on the inside? 

Try this Exercise and See what it can reveal to you!:

I like to get clients to pull a big sheet of paper and to draw a big mirror shape - then outside the mirror I ask them to write all the things that they have been annoyed by recently, all the things that have upset them, the people who they have not got on with, the events that have not gone to plan, the things they want to change etc. 

Then inside the mirror shape they take each of the statements on the outside and examine them again as though they were a reflection of themselves and ask that they consider what all the possibilities are for how this could be reflecting what is going on inside them. Even the things that at the moment they don't think are relevant. We then work together on building up a picture that shows them all that they needed to is a very powerful process and results in a large number of 'lightbulb' moments! 

Worth a thought? 

For more support and insights into life, love and everything come and find your Positive Potential in the Facebook Group where you will find like minded people and where you can get lots of coaching and support for free by asking your questions to me! Come and join us now!

Love Nova xxx

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Can we Ever Really Forgive and Forget Trauma - and Should We?

Our past is no longer there, it doesn't exist...but it is remembered. If our past's have been filled with memories that we struggle to comprehend or forgive, it can have a huge impact on our present and our projected ideas about the future.

What can we do when we are carrying around a bag full of memories that feel heavy and weigh us down to the extent that we are trapped in the belief that our past is so painful that we cannot let it go and it still harms us even now? Is there a way out? 

Yes, there is. The simple answer is that we have to be prepared to put the bag down, rifle through the memories it contains and decide which ones we want to keep because they are helpful (maybe because they taught us something very valuable about who we are and what we want) and which we want to leave behind. We need to stop reliving those memories, stop giving them power over us and put them firmly in their place - which is literally and metaphorically, behind us.

So why doesn't it feel this easy? 

Because even when something is behind us, we can still turn and look at it and if what we see is compelling enough we stop and stare, we keep staring and keep thinking because it is STILL THERE.

Short of finding a technique where our past is erased completely - and our minds do have such a function which is why trauma is sometimes deeply buried and 'forgotten', the most successful way of working with your past is to look at it and deal with it in a different way.

Sometimes though we don't want to look at it in a different way - we can have thoughts around whether 'forgiving and forgetting' is somehow 'allowing' an experience and making it 'right' which feels uncomfortable.

The first thing to know is that if you are finding it hard to let go of past memories or trauma or don't even want to, that's ok. I read things all the time - little well meaning quotes that say 'hey, just let the past go' but this can only be achieved if you truly want to do this and there are many reasons why a person may not want to - that's ok until it is not ok with YOU - it doesn't matter how many other people cannot understand why you are still haunted by the trauma, it is irrelevant. When YOU are ready or willing to take steps towards forgiveness (and maybe you never will want to) that is the time when the work can start.

So why might we feel like we never want to forgive or 'forget' a past experience that affects our life today even though the experience itself was long ago? 

Perhaps this example might help to explain it: Would it be 'right' for us to forgive and forget the Holocaust?

The pain of this event as a global society had to move forward in some way otherwise the generations of those involved that followed would forever more be punished for the sins of the fathers and this is not right either. However could we ever really allow ourselves to 'forget' or to find a positive in this experience and still feel comfortable with our own moral compass?

On the other hand....

Would you stop someone who had actually been through a trauma from moving on? Should the holocaust survivors not be allowed to move on or to reframe their experience incase this was taken as a sign towards their captures that what they did was ok? Viktor Frankl who I mentioned in my last post managed to draw a very important conclusion from his time in a concentration camp that no one is able to take away your freedom of thought - would we want him to only acknowledge the bad and see his book as a terrible sign that captures and torturers should be forgiven?

Perhaps the question then is not 'can I forget' but 'can I find a way to help myself feel better so I can still thrive and enjoy my life whilst also knowing that what happened to me was not ok'. 

Looking at the same issue of the holocaust... as a society, we are holding onto this experience as a great learning tool of how deep humanity can sink into behaviour that we are later deeply ashamed of - it pays to hold onto this experience because we want humanity to know that this will never be allowed to happen again.

Does it pay to hold onto this experience as an individual though? 

To judge the morality of forgiving and forgetting look at it as you would look upon the situation of someone you love. If your child/partner/mother/father etc went through a traumatic experience would you want them to feel that pain forever? No, of course not. If they were able to find something within the experience that helped them to feel better would you want to take that away from them and say 'hang on a minute, if you are planning on finding the good in this situation, don't you think that makes what happened ok?' Unlikely...You would probably feel that they had actually managed to achieve something very important - they had felt ok again despite what happened and that is something to celebrate and be happy about.

We need to have the same kind of compassion for ourselves. It is ok to let it go, it is a sign to yourself and an example to society as a whole that we do not have to accept being continually punished by an event or by behaviour that is no longer present. Even if it was YOUR behaviour that was traumatic to another forgiveness is an important step in ensuring the behaviour ends.

I realise that this presents another moral dilemma - should we be allowing those who are the perpetrators of traumatic events to forgive themselves? Do we want rapists and murderers to forgive themselves their behaviour and go on to lead happy lives? You'll have to examine that for yourself and come up with your own answers but for me I have to say that on one level at least, it is probably the only way that their behaviour might change...if they never get to a point where they examine themselves fully enough to put their damaging behaviour into the past and move into a new more positive behaviour and actually forgive themselves fully enough to let go of the anger or fear or hatred that began their damaging behaviour then doesn't that mean they will carry on doing the same thing?

So why might we decide to hold onto a past trauma and stay in that possibly extremely painful place for any longer than was absolutely necessary?  because we are afraid that if we forgive and forget we become vulnerable and it will happened is a protection mechanism, we stay alert, we daren't make it seem less than it was or to look at the positives incase that increases our risk of inviting the same thing to happen again. 

What we need to analyse in order to stop trauma continually hurting us is whether moving forward or staying where we are will be the most beneficial overall - really examine the possible outcomes.

To move on from trauma we ask ourselves these questions as a starting point:

  • If you forgive the event is it the same as forgiving the behaviour?
  • What would forgiving mean for you?
  • What would you have to DO in order to forgive?
  • Which harms you more, to hold onto the trauma or to move through it?
  • Which feels better - to stay where you are or to try another thought about what happened?
  • Has the trauma shown you anything about yourself that feels really good? Did you become stronger for example, more determined?
  • Have you closed down as  result of the trauma or has it allowed you to open up? What would you like it to have done?
  • What would you say to others who are experiencing a similar trauma or who have done? What hope could you give to them?
  • If you never experienced the trauma what would be different for you today do you think? The good and the bad.
  • If you had your time again what would you do differently that might have affected the outcome? 
  • What could you do right now that would be a step towards healing?
  • Would you want to forget what happened? Why?
  • What would forgiving give to you and what would it take away? Which is the better choice for you in terms of creating a happier life?

Can we ever really forgive and forget? Yes we can. Should we? That is up to you...which allows the best outcome for you? Will your life become 'better' or 'worse' if you forgive? Always move into the space which feels 'better', then keep moving into the next space that feels 'even better' than that...continual movement 'upwards' is the key. What does the best life for you look like? Move towards that.

  • For continued support please join my facebook group Positive Potential here
  • If you would like to have a free half an hour with me to talk more about anything that you are finding it hard to move on from please click here 
  • My programme Positive Potential is designed to move your life forwards when you have become stuck in feelings of stress, anxiety or depression and you can find out more about it here

Love Nova xxx

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Powerful Exercise to Unleash the Secrets of your Subconscious Inner Circle

Isolation and Loneliness are two major players in the world of mental well being. They can lead to depression without you even noticing sometimes. How can you combat this in a world where we spend a huge amount of time online and in front of a computer? 

The first thing you can do is to bring to the surface your thoughts and feelings about your Inner Circle and then making changes that will support you in your connections and relationships.

Who is in your inner circle and are you nurturing those relationships? 

Here is a simple and peaceful exercise to do to discover who is in your inner circle and what you are feeling about those relationships:

  • Make a list of all the people who are in your life currently that you care about. This might be the best friend you only see twice a year but who is still on the end of the phone when you need them, it could be your family members, the person you have never met but who inspires you with their wisdom and their way of being...anyone who is a feature in your life..the good and the bad!

  • Go outside and choose a stone, a leaf, a twig....anything you like from nature that you feel in some way represents a person in your inner circle. Think carefully about your choices but don't analyse them at this stage.
  • Choose a representation of YOU - a stone that somehow calls to you, a shell, a seed, a flower...whatever  you like. 
  • Once you have collected all your representations bring them back inside. Place the representation of you in the centre of an imaginary circle.
  • Place all the other 'people' around you wherever you feel is right to put them without thinking too much about it.
Now take a really good look at what you see in front of you. Take each 'person' in turn and note down why you choose that stone/leaf etc to represent them. Is it a dark coloured sharp stone? What does that tell you about the person? Is it a soft, delicate leaf? Why might you have chosen that?

Write down all your observations under their name on a piece of paper.

Now take a look at 'you', examine your representation of yourself in the same way and note down your observations.

Lastly, examine where you have chosen to place each item in relation to you and in relation to each other. What do you notice? Have you placed some very close to you and others further away? Is one object blocking the path of another? What might that mean? Are there some who were placed further away than you consciously might have expected? Are some closer to one another than they are to you?

Really LOOK, really examine what you have represented here because it will tell you a lot about how you are feeling about your inner circle.

Did you discover that you have more people close to you than you thought?
Who would you like to bring closer to you?
Who is so close that they are suffocating?
Who is missing from the inner circle that you would like to be there?

Move things around and see how it feels...bring certain 'people' closer and move others further away. How does it feel now? Better? Less comfortable than you expected? Write down all your observations.

Move everyone into the places that feel the most comfortable to you, the inner circle that you really desire to have. Bring in more objects to represent people you haven't even met yet and place them where you would like them to be.

This is your Inner Circle Goal. Take a photo of it and make a note of the changes that you would like to bring about.

Once you have played with this idea for a while start to think of ways that you can achieve your ideal inner circle by writing down all the actions that would bring you closer to many as you can...make a huge list of ideas!

Each day try to take an action that will bring your ideal inner circle to life.

This is a really powerful exercise and I use this and more in my Positive Potential 10 week programme. If you would like a FREE 30 min session with me to discover more about yourself and how to free yourself from stressful thoughts and feelings please book a time to have your session here

Love Nova xxx

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

How Much Choice Do We Have Over How We Feel?

More than you might imagine! 

It is the greatest freedom we have as humans, to choose how to feel. It is the freedom that Viktor Frankl talks about in his book 'Man's Search for Meaning' an account of what he learned from his time in a Nazi Concentration Camp.

My favourite quote from the book is:

 'A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom of so many thinkers. The truth - that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.' 

 The salvation of man is through love and in love - that's a bold statement to make isn't it? How do you feel about that? Is it true? Can love save us all from everything?

As a Psychotherapist I have a view that love, in the end, is actually all we should be concerned with - however it HAS to include the love of self - a cliche right? No one can love you until you love yourself is just one of those overused things that we all say 'yeah I know' to in a bored sort of a way.

So what has this got to do with choice over how we feel? 

We all have a choice over whether we will choose a loving thought or a damaging thought and we can start with ourselves here in a very practical way so that we can really examine whether it works or not to always employ love as our first thought.

As an aside 'love' can feel like a very loaded word to some people and you may find that it is uncomfortable to use it - in these cases I ask my clients to use the word 'life' or 'living' as a substitute. So you can ask (for example) 'am I bringing more life to my body/mind/soul?' instead.

So if we can save ourselves (as Frankl believes) through love, from depression, stress and anxiety we need to examine what that might actually look like.

Employing loving thoughts to see you through any difficult period of your life is unbelievably powerful and effective but it doesn't start and end with muttering 'I love myself' now and again in an attempt to fool your subconscious into feeling amazing all the time.

Employing loving thoughts to work for you covers EVERY area of your life:

Are you being loving (bringing more life) to your body? 

  • Do you give it food that helps it to perform at it's best? 
  • Do you ensure it has enough sleep (as often as you can)? 
  • Do you keep it moving and keep it challenged and keep it lean and strong?

 Are you being loving (bringing more life) to your mind? 

  • Do you treat it as you would treat another with respect and kindness? 
  • Do you forgive yourself when you have treated yourself badly and look to address it in the future? 
  • Do you look for the best of your thoughts and concentrate on those? 

Are you being loving (bringing more life) to your soul?

  • Do you give it time to rest? 
  • Do you give it space to rejuvenate? 
  • Do you give it time to enjoy the things that keep it nourished? 

Are you being loving (bringing more life) to your journey? 

  • Do you respect the past and know that it has got you here today?
  • Do you respect that your life is finite and that it must be lived whilst you have the chance?
  • Do you answer the call of your life to move forward and to express itself?

Are you being loving towards your relationships, your friends and family, your work, your hobbies and activities....EVERY single area of life can be looked at in terms of self love and how often and to what level you are choosing a loving thought. 

How often do you choose how you feel by opting for a loving thought about yourself or another instead of a damaging thought? Or are you living by default, not consciously choosing your thoughts about anything but letting them run riot and then having the fall out of the upsetting feelings that result? Most of us have done this for a large portion of our lives so don't feel bad about this or judged by it, just know that there IS a choice, no matter how little evidence of that you see currently.

Is it easy to choose how to feel? Yes and No. Yes, when you get the hang of it...but no it's not always that easy because it does take quite a lot of work and effort to continuously choose our thoughts in order to affect how we feel, the easy option is just to sink into feeling rubbish about ourselves or our lives or to let a train of thought take hold and drag us down until it feels like we have no control at all.

This is the subconscious way of living your life at the moment, it can change into a new subconscious way of being but it needs to become conscious first in order for that change to occur. Much like driving a car, you have to consciously learn the skill first and then you drive automatically without thinking about it much.

We are so used to that cycle of living life at a subconscious level where our thoughts are left unchecked that sometimes that we have forgotten that we have a choice...we can stop thinking that way and choose a more helpful thought, those thoughts will gather momentum in exactly the same way as a depressing or worried or stressed thought does and eventually we gather enough momentum to dramatically affect how we feel.

So in answer to the initial question of how much choice we have over how we feel, we have TOTAL choice. That is not to say that we shouldn't ever allow sadness, grief or worry into our lives, these are signs of love too...but what it does mean is that we never have to stay in sadness for longer than we are willing to, let the sadness live its purpose, let it indicate to you how deeply you feel and then, when you are ready, know that you can choose a new thought that helps you move forward towards happiness again.

To join my Facebook Group Positive Potential and get support and advice, time to share and celebrate and to generally meet some great people please click here.

To find out more about the 10 week Positive Potential programme to end Stress, Depression and Anxiety please go here.

To sign up to my newsletter and receive a FREE 30 PAGE WORKBOOK please go here

Love Nova xxx

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

10 Tips that will Quickly Move you OUT of Stressful Thinking

What is Stressful Thinking? How do we know when we are engaging in it and how can we move out of it quickly so that things don't get worse?!

Stressful thinking is basically any train of thought that is creating a feeling of unhappiness in your mind or body. Not to be confused with uncomfortable thoughts...uncomfortable thoughts are (often) those that challenge us or ask us to look at something in a different way - these are productive, useful and informative - but they can give way to stressful thinking if we get stuck in an uncomfortable thought that we don't know how to deal with.

How do we know when we are engaging with stressful thinking? 

  • Do you feel worried about something that you currently cannot change?
  • Are you overthinking something to the point where you are no longer able to take action because you are too caught up in the thought itself?
  • Are you caught up in past thinking or predicted future thinking?
  • Are you feeling anxious or upset by a thought every time it comes into your mind?

These are examples of Stressful Thinking and they are never helpful. That saying 'don't worry it might never happen' is particularly apt here! Stressful thinking triggers the fight or flight response which leaves you in a place where you are unable to make creative decisions - the type of decisions that may change things around for you if only you can relax enough to access them.

So how can you quickly move out of Stressful Thinking and into Creative Thinking?  Here are my tips to do just that!

1) As soon as you start to feel stressed about a concern, a situation, a worry or a person remind yourself that this is just a the moment it has no power over you...the thought can be changed which will change the is just a thought.

2) Give yourself a time when you will address this area of concern and put it in your diary, until that time keep telling yourself that you have this under control and do not need to engage in thinking about it until that time.

3) When you have the time sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write in the middle of the paper the thing that has resulted in you feeling stressed. Around this write down every thought that has come up for you, no matter how small, how huge, how ridiculous you may feel it is...write it down. Then go through every one of the thoughts and rate how likely it is to happen on a scale of 1-10. Take the thoughts that you have rated over a 6 and look at them in more detail - put an action next to them that you can take in the next day or so that will alleviate the stress that you associate with it. 

4) Imagine the best possible outcome for the stressful thought you have and imagine it happening in vivid detail - like a daydream, imagine how you will FEEL when this happens and hold onto this feeling so that it will eventually replace the stressful feeling when you imagine it.

5) Catch your stressful thought when it occurs and ask yourself (outloud if necessary...when you are alone!) 'What would be a slightly better thought than this?' Then think of how you can move your train of thought into a more productive and creative place. For example: if you were stressed about an upcoming house move and everytime you thought of the amount of work you have to do you came out in a sweat...catch the thought that you have prior to the feeling occurring. The thought might be something like 'oh no I've only got three days left and I have so much to do', consciously and deliberately tweak this thought to something that feels slightly better but also believable, it might change to 'three days left, I will start tonight by asking for some help', This changes it from a stressful thought to an uncomfortable is unhelpful, the other is productive and tells your mind that it can rest because you are taking action.

6) Tell someone - even the most stressful thoughts can be calmed by sharing them with someone. There is something about the act of getting thoughts out of your head and into the open that immediately changes them. You can do the same thing by journalling if you would prefer not to tell anyone (burn the paper afterwards if it is top secret - but still get the thought out of your head and into a different place). 

7) Laugh - not in a cruel or self berating way, but find something about the stressful thinking that is so over the top that you can laugh at it at relieve the stress and find a different way to look at it. 

8) Do a visualisation - when stressful thoughts come into my head I employ my imagination to create little happy people to locate the stressful thought and take it out...literally I imagine the happy people moving into my head and taking the thought (which I imagine as a slow moving, dark coloured lump of mush) and destroying it or transforming it into a lighter, less stressful colour, shape or image. As daft as it sounds it works! 

9) Be mindful - When stressful thinking starts just remind yourself that right here, right now you are fine. In this exact moment you are here and you are ok. Look at something in the room, study it, feel your feet on the floor, your body in the place that it is and notice that you are ok. Right here and right now is the only thing that actually exists...everything else has either already happened and cannot be changed or has not happened yet and therefore maybe never will or can still be changed.

10) Get physical - move your body, relax your shoulders, notice how the stressful thinking has affected your body and change it - we can change both the physical and the mental and because one affects the other you can start with either to effect a different feeling. Go for a walk, stretch, dance, get a massage, make a physical change that will enable your body and then your mind to relax. 

Love Nova xxx

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