Seeking The Companionship of The Conversations We Have with Ourselves & Overdosing on Overthinking

Isn’t it peculiar when you find yourself waking up from living in a moment that doesn’t even exist yet? 

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An important note about why we overthink things.  Why we try to forecast the future, figure out what is going to happen next and play out the scenarios before they even happen.

We find comfort there.  It gives us power. It can be a good thing.

We find companionship within the constant conversation we have with ourselves. 

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The addicting mind chatter becomes even more distracting when we have a challenge we can’t solve or when we feel all alone. We wander behind enemy lines (inside our perturbed minds) and begin to overthink it all.

The path to more peace, is to sit with how things really are and examine all the ways you chase for comfort when feeling vulnerable, lonely, frightened and anxious.  We become addicts to unnecessary activity and addicted to the discursive thoughts in our mind. 

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These addictions we have come in all types of forms, some more healthy than others. We become addicted to work, exercise, food, adventure, meditation, yoga, anything to remove us (read: escape) from the painful truth of reality.

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Watch: How to Use Drugs by Alain de Bottom.

A drug can be anything that increases an expanded state of consciousness (that is the state or quality of awareness) in which the pain of immediate troubles is lessoned by euphoric recognition of nature and the cosmos.

 

 

Crucifying Ourselves & Rising From The Dread

Four weeks into The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and I am drowning deep in dark emotional pain. Ugggghhhhh, I have protected myself from this real work for way too long. I knew it would be hard, I have avoided facing the truth about what I really fear for a very long time. Looking for short cuts, life hacks. . .rushing through self-repair is never really possible. And damn it, I knew that.

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I raise my face to the sky, my mouth wide open, gasping for air. It feels like I am flailing about in the dark, deep cold water, like a helpless, frightened child that has yet learned how to swim confidently through life, exposed to the unwelcome and unknown that I have hidden from myself and the world around me. I do all I can do to avoid facing what is real,  my own dark unknown vulnerable mind.

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I don’t want to to do this real work. I don’t want to know that I am broken. I don’t care to admit that I am confused, anxious, uncertain, vulnerable, frightened and angry. That’s not who I want to represent me. I want to skip past these ugly emotions. Run from them, crucify them. So what do I do?  I strive too hard to heal. I don’t want to do the real digging, fear-facing work. I don’t want dig too deep into my truth to find a fearful young child who must let got and feel all of these unwanted emotions.

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Who the hell wants to do that? Yet, I am inspired by the possibilities, by the words of Albert Camus

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.”

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It’s not easy being real with myself. It doesn’t feel good to actually observe the thoughts that ruin my plans each day. To actually accept how much pain I feel and inflict on myself each morning, as I awake with feelings of lack, insecurity and an incredibly raw feeling of being very, very lost and uncertain about where my life is going. It hurts me and in turn, it hurts others. Some how, some way, I must bring these feelings along for the ride, learning to befriend the parts of me that I find undesirable.

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The key to reaching our potential while feeling less shut off and shut down is linked to the ability to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing. Going even beyond that, to the why we do what we do. What triggers our emotions and actions. What pain is behind the purpose.

It could possibly begin with opening up to the Five hard truths you need to accept about yourself.

Our inner critics negatively control the outcomes of our decisions. Our critical and suspicious thoughts place a black cloud and huge road blocks before our well-intentioned plans. We ruin the day before it begins when we don’t become honest with how we really feel and who we really think we are.

Underwater photography by Harry Fayt.

How to Elevate Your Everything

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This post is for me, but if you read something that resonates with you, please let me know. Comment below or send me a tweet @marketcouncil.   I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Way You Do Anything, is the Way You Do Everything

I’m thinking about why my successes are not more consistent.

Why my life seems so yo-yo-ee.   A bit up and down. 

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Why I haven’t achieved all that I want by now. Why I don’t have more time for wonder and wander. Why I work so damn much.

How come I still hold on to the last ten pounds of weight? Where is the additional savings in my account? How come I don’t laugh more, have more fun each day?

I’m thinking about how I can improve so that I can have deeper relationships with my friends and family, more sacred moments with less worry and more time for self-care.

I’m thinking about how I can execute for more excellence in my life. How I can improve my life in ways that really matter. 

Perhaps I need to raise my personal standard of performance.

I am inspired by Bill Walsh’s tenets of mental toughness. His dedication to focusing on what should be one, how it should be done and when it should be done.

It’s the deceptively small things that when done every day, make transformation happen.

The counting of each calorie, taking advantage of promotions when shopping, putting aside a few dollars a day to build up our savings, dressing the part for a big meeting or interview, taking a moment to breathe, going to the gym instead of sleeping another thirty minutes and planning the night before to get closer to completing a project I am about to launch.

It’s about making the call, sending the text, holding on to that hug. It’s about realizing that life is so fleeting. Make the time to smile, breathe and enjoy – in-between all the work.

It’s a commitment to never slack off, to maintain the effort each day and to return and perhaps raise the standards that initially fueled my success. To push past my self-imposed limits and test my endurance and performance each day.

Bill’s Tenent’s of Mental Toughness

  • Maintain a ferocious and intelligently applied mindset directed at continual improvement.
  • Demonstrate respect for everyone you meet. Everyone is your teacher.
  • Be deeply committed to learning and practicing what you learn.
  • Be fair and honest with yourself and others.
  • Demonstrate good character.
  • Honor the direct connection between details and improvement, relentlessly seek the latter.
  • Show composure and self-control, especially under pressure.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to your core values and beliefs.
  • Use positive language and have a positive attitude.
  • Be willing to go the extra distance for what you know is important.
  • Deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation.
  • Promote internal communication that is both open and substantive.
  • Seek poise in yourself and those you lead.
  • Put other’s welfare and priorities ahead of your own.
  • Maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high.
  • Make sacrifice and commitment your trademark.

And may I add –

Be soft, gentle, curious and flexible and feel the freedom of racing like a Mustang.

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The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us as we live.

The Importance of Self-Reliance & Taking Responsibility

This post is about taking responsibility.  Responsibility requires constant readjustment combined with increased clarity and purpose.

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Real improvements never happen without changing your behaviors. A change in outcome is a benefit of changing habits, attitudes and skills you acquire.

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True success, steady ongoing, sustaining success, is systematic. It’s made of incremental improvements in the way things are done.  It is a (daily) relentless attempt to eliminate the unnecessary activities, delay and waste.

Where we decide to put our energy decides what we will actually accomplish.

 

For me, it begins with identifying the obstacles and problems; tackling the issues I have been ignoring.

I commit to trying to get to the root of the problem.

Asking Why????

  1. Write down your specific problem clearly and completely. A good statement of the problem often points to its own solution.
  2. Ask “why” the problem happens and write your answer.
  3. Continue asking “why” to the previous answer until you or others agree that the problem’s root cause has been identified.

I will use today as an opportunity to do what I have needed to do.

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Elevating My Everything

  • Triple check my work for errors before publishing, sending or presenting.
  • Be more considerate of everyone’s time and attention.
  • Review my priorities and ask myself, is this really necessary? What tasks can I eliminate?
  • Review and measure the outcomes of each day.
  • Give credit to those who have contributed to my success.
  • Thank others for their help.
  • Look and ask for feedback and follow up when that feedback makes my performance stronger.
  • Don’t react to every little thing that happens.
  • Make note of the important tasks at hand and the follow up that must be done.
  • Watch for signs along the way and know how to read them.
  • Stay calm, composed and true to my mission of self-improvement.
  • Never stop and never get lazy.
  • Pay attention, focus deeply and never get distracted.
  • Try not to get side-tracked.
  • Seek to work with the very best.
  • Raise the standards around me, including my environment.
  • Practice what I preach.
  • Attempt to decipher the urgent from the important. Do the important first.
  • Refrain from enticing short-cuts.
  • Respect others, especially when I know they are giving 100%
  • Continue to do what really worked in the past.
  • Learn new ways of doing what I have always done but also sticking to what really works.
  • Devote myself to a daily discipline of focused work.
  • Be extremely patient.
  • Learn to utilize what is around me.
  • Work with a mix of humility, acceptance and strength.
  • Face my biggest problems head on.

Ego is the Enemy

Do not wait to elevate your everything. Raise your standard of performance, make everything you do better and better.

From Emerson’s Essay on Illusions. . .

`Set me some great task, ye gods! and I will show my spirit.’ `Not so,’ says the good Heaven; `plod and plough, vamp your old coats and hats, weave a shoestring; great affairs and the best wine by and by.’ Well, ’tis all phantasm; and if we weave a yard of tape in all humility, and as well as we can, long hereafter we shall see it was no cotton tape at all, but some galaxy which we braided, and that the threads were Time and Nature.

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays

Feature illustrations Lion-Comp & Bubbles the Snow Leopard from Daryl at Cargo Collective.

 

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What Moves You Forward?

I wonder why you do what you do. What drives you through your day?

Why I do what I do.

Why do I desire deeper connections with people I love and admire? Because life would seem vacuous with anything less.

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It is important for me to feel connected, relevant, needed and valuable.

Why am I  driven to understand where the world is headed? Because standing in the dark seems like such a frightening place to hide.

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It seems to me that learning, knowing and growing gives me a feeling  of security. It frees up my time to focus on my why(s).

Why do I attempt to live a life of daily adventure, filled with no regrets? Because it feels like something that would be great to bring to the grave. I don’t want to waste this precious gift.

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Knowing the truth about everything around me brings clarity and an easier way to navigate through the twisted turns.

Focusing on what is most important and essential to being human feels like a good way to grow. It’s enlightening.

Living to my full potential and co-creating with the universe and God together as one, seems like a way to live a life filled with higher purpose.

 

 

Real but not True – a Mindset for Success

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If you suffer from even just an occasional attack of anxiety, worry or ruminating thoughts, this post has some very useful tips on how to stop the spin cycle of subcortical looping, ie. excessive, repeating thoughts of worry and fear. These are therapies and tips that I have been researching and trying on myself. They are not to replace professional medical guidance.

First, a few book quotes from  Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness

Worrying as a Way of Controlling the Future

The thoughts spinning around and around in our minds can be very convincing. We build elaborate scenarios of failure and chaos and believe them to be true. This may be very creative, but not conducive to happiness! Worry is a very real kind of mental suffering. I know because I come from a lineage of worriers myself. My mother used to joke that when she couldn’t think of anything to worry about, she’d really get worried. “It was my way of making sure I was taking care of things,” she says.

These are the thoughts that hold us back from doing the things that will bring us success. 

Phantom Problems

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Our minds can get stuck in worrying about phantom problems that we convince ourselves are real. As Mark Twain put it, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

Reasonable planning for the future can give us direction, but obsessing about what might go wrong puts us in a perpetual state of stress and rarely brings about positive results. 

The Problem with Chronic Worry is that it Solves Nothing and Causes Stress

“New solutions and fresh ways of seeing a problem do not typically come from worrying, especially chronic worry. Instead of coming up with solutions to these potential problems, worriers typically simply ruminate on the danger itself, immersing themselves in a low-key way in the dread associated with it while staying in the same rut of thought.” – Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence.

Read more Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ

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Health Problems Associated with Obsessive Worry

Not only does worrying drain your energy, chronic worrying will eventually manifest into insomnia, sleep disorders, stomach problems, heart issues, binge eating, headaches, anxiety and depression. I personally have suffered through IBS and severe panic attacks and have been seeking guidance and help my whole life. However, I no longer want to feel this way.

Your Worry and Thoughts are Real, but Not True

So how do we wake ourselves up from the suffering of obsessive worry and anxiety?  Tara Brach, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC (IMCW) suggests you shine some light on the worry by asking yourself a series of questions that begin with – What am I believing right now? Are you believing you will fail at something in the future? That something is wrong with you? That doom and gloom is right around the corner?

While the beliefs you have and those ruminating thoughts running your mind may feel very real they not necessarily true and they may be causing a very real physical effect on your body – like tightness, anxiety and fear.

Illusion exists because it’s not investigated.

As soon as you start questioning these thoughts and beliefs and shine a light of investigation on your fear-based loops you can begin to wake up out of their grip.

Question Your Beliefs

Shining the light of awareness on our worry really helps.  Byron Katie the founder of Byron Katie International (BKI), an organization that includes The School for the Work and Turnaround House in Ojai, California recommends we ask ourselves some powerful questions as we investigate the validity of our worry.

Take a moment to answer these questions. (Note, this is not a one time quick fix, in order to really do the work, these questions should be asked over and over again, it’s a practice.)

What am I believing right now?

Is it true? Do I really know that this is true?

What is it like to be living with this belief?  What does it feel like? Do I feel small? Contracted? Sad? Defeated?

How has this affected my life to be believing this?

How would I be if I didn’t believe this to be true?

These questions and post was inspired today by this amazing talk by Tara Brach. Click here to listen to more Releasing Limiting Beliefs   

Suggested Reading: True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart

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Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

I am researching and studying the benefits of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program. Here are a few tips I have picked up a long the way. They have certainly helped me lighten up from the weighted suffering of worry.

Pause and Breathe

Mindfulness interrupts the tape loop by bringing us back to the moment so we can respond to what is actually happening right now. Mindfulness meditation shifts the mode adopted in response to thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness meditation involves a particular kind of attention and mental stance: deliberately, intentionally and non-judgementally paying attention to the present moment. Just one minute of mindful awareness can break the sub-cortical looping and rumination. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Just focus on that breath moving in and out of your body.

Look for Triggers

Triggers are warning signs and triggers for rumination include tiredness, inactivity and irritability. It is important to watch your mind and become aware of any of these emotions, which can lead to bouts of anxiety and obsessive worry. These can be counteracted by taking better care of yourself ie. plenty of rest, exercise and nutrition.

Get up and Move and maybe Join a Team

Cognitive behavior therapy has found that exercise and sports that are action focused and have us directly engaged in an experience can help release worry and rumination. Think yoga, tabata, tennis, skiing and team sports. Participating in sports that require your attention and engagement may really help you immerse in a sensory experience which will help you break the pattern of fear and worry.

Start a New Project

Shifting your activities from routine chores and obligations towards more self-fulfilling and absorbing activities will help you refocus your mind on something new. So will taking a more mindful approach to cleaning the house, running errands and folding the laundry.

Slow Down and Reduce the Rush

CBT therapists will encourage patients to slow things down while only focusing on one thing at a time. They will ask their patients to pace their activities without taking on too much which also may help  reduces the sense of “rushing around” and “being under pressure”.

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When we lighten up and let go of real but not true thoughts, we make room for more in our lives.

What have you tried that has helped? I’d love to learn more.