The equation to health and wellness consists of the following four aspects:
1. Emotional wellness
2. Nourishing eating habits
3. Movement (exercise or other activity like gardening)
4. Spiritual connection
During the next few Being Well posts I focus on the first aspect: Emotional wellness.
There are many aspects to emotional wellness. One of the most import aspects is our thoughts. Generally everything in our lives is affected by our thoughts:
- Work life
- Our ways of parenting
- Our relationship to our bodies
- Our energy
- Our physical health
In my experience as a psychologist and more important, my experience as a client in therapy, I’ve come to the realization that if we don’t address the type of thoughts that we allow to stay in our minds, there will always be something that can make us sad, mad or anxious. Or just simply have us disconnected from the present moment. It happens to me that I’ll space out while having a conversation with someone, or while I’m playing with Juno, and that is not fair for anyone.
For this reason I want to invite all of you to take a moment and bring some awareness to check if your thoughts are nourishing your life or harming it.
Sounds simple and obvious, but the truth is that it takes a lot of work and courage to step into our minds, look at what is happening, and then have the determination to change thinking patterns if needed.
Our thoughts, even when they get very negative are a comfort zone. Crazy but Yes! It is all too easy to let our minds go in the direction it wants and not do something about it – even if its hurting us.
Perhaps this occurs because we connect the action of changing negative thoughts with the idea of controlling our minds. And that alone, with out even trying, sounds exhausting. Believing that we can heal our thoughts by willpower alone is ultimately another way of harming our emotional wellness in the sense that it contributes to the vicious cycle of negative thinking. Changing thinking patterns takes a more loving approach that includes opening our hearts and having compassion towards us.
There are techniques that I will share with you in future posts. For today I want to focus on the first step: Bringing awareness to our thoughts. Opening our hearts to listen to our inner mind chatter is not only the first step but also the most important one.
Once we’ve identified negative thinking patterns, we have opened the door to work with them. Thus the most important thing that you need to do is to let these thoughts pass. Don’t avoid them, don’t ignore them, but also don’t hang on to them. Let them Go. Yes! Like the song in Frozen the movie (off topic, my daughter is driving me nuts singing that song. I’ve heard it a zillion times). Dwelling on negative thoughts can trigger a lot of anxiety that can also lead to feelings of depression.
Now be patient. This doesn’t mean that you need to feel bad or stressed about the fact that you have these thoughts. What I’m proposing is to observe without judgment. Notice what goes on in your mind without naming it good or bad. Just observe and let your thoughts go in and then let them out. If you struggle with this, start by trying out a breathing exercise, like the square breathing I shared on my post about going back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Once you’ve allowed negative thoughts to pass or once you’ve grounded yourself with breathing exercises, you can more easily understand they are just your thoughts. They are not necessarily the reality. If it is a negative thought connected to something that happened in real life, you can better connect with the present moment and understand that you are not in that situation anymore.
Achieving this non-judgment and releasing step is fundamental to moving forward. It takes some time and practice, and this is why it’s important to focus only on this part initially. If you can get to a place where you can really observe your thinking patterns without judging them, then you are ready to take the next step and open up space to start building more nourishing thoughts for your life.
Start here and let me know how it goes. I would really love to hear what has been your experience with this.
Much love and Let it Go ;)