Life is a series of experiences. Some make us feel good, others make us feel less good. Our brains are hardwired to remember the less

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Reflect on your progress to improve your mindset

Life is a series of experiences. Some make us feel good, others make us feel less good. Our brains are hardwired to remember the less good ones so we learn how to avoid them..

Don’t eat those berries, they killed Alex..

Be nice to that person or they might hate you and you’ll be ostracised..

If you go near that lion, it’s going to bite your other arm off..

Our brains learned to shortcut itself to make survival easier. It connects negative experiences straight to a known response so it doesn’t waste time thinking.

It’s a wonderful protection mechanism. You don’t want to be wasting time contemplating how to respond when your survival is on the line..

In the modern world, this shortcutting of our brain is less useful. There are far fewer life/death situations to worry about but our brains don’t really know this.. They’re still trying to protect us with this outdated way of doing things.

It’s like cutting a hole in your head every time you get a headache. Yeah there might be historic evidence of it helping but if we actually think about it, a painkiller would be a more useful approach to try first.

Treat yourself kindly

So if we look at our brain with some empathy, it’s really focusing on the potential pains up ahead to try to protect us from them.

Buuut in this here world, we can’t always control or affect the things that are up ahead. We’re often at the whim of factors we have zero control over.

And when our desire to have a certain outcome collides with the reality of not being able to affect the outcome, our brain’s defence mechanism can go into an overdrive loop..

We want to control the outcome but we feel helpless to do anything but we want to do something but we can’t do anything but we want it but don’t know what to do and feel worthless for not being able to do anything..

Does that sound familiar..?

The mechanism that was developed to save your life is unable to cope with comparatively complex situations. In some situations it can overload, take over your thoughts and stop you getting on with your life.

In that situation, your tendency may be to fight it. To try to wrestle with your mind to bring it to heel. Take control again..

In my experience, that doesn’t do much good. I’ve wasted many a day trying to fight with myself to force myself to feel better. It 👏 Don’t 👏 Work 👏

What’s been more useful, is a bit of self kindness. Acceptance of who I am and where I’m at. Allowing myself to feeeeeeel how I feel without judgement or favour. And then taking the time to reflect and acknowledge that whatever is causing the stress, whatever my brain is attempting to protect me from, that I still have so much to be positive about..

Now this is easy to say, so I have a practice for you to.. well.. practice to help show your mind that should it’s greatest fears come true, that life is still something you can affect for the better.

Something to try

This is all about reflection. So put yourself in a quiet spot, get comfy and let’s reflect..

What were you doing this time last year?

Where were you at in life? What were you working towards?

Stop for a moment and remind yourself of how it felt to be there…

How does it feel?

Did you have everything you wanted?

Write a short paragraph describing what was going on in life. The things you were happy about, the things you were less happy about, the goals you were working towards. I’ve started it for you below..

This time last year I was…

So how was life?

Was it perfect? Was it everything you’ve ever wanted? Did you feel different from how you feel now?

Now, think about the last year.

How has life changed?

Think about what the you from last year wanted in their life..

Write down five things you’ve done in the last year that that version of you would be excited about! It can be any five things, big or small 🙂

In the course of doing those five things, were there challenges? Were there things you thought you might not overcome? Were there things you wanted to achieve but didn’t or couldn’t for reasons outside your control?

Have you ever given yourself credit for this awesome stuff you’ve done in the last year?

Generally life isn’t a smooth ride. There are calm moments but we’re often facing challenges of one kind or another. What we humans are most adept at is carrying on despite the challenges. Pushing forward through the pain because we hope (damn do we hope) for better days.

But as you’ve just shown yourself, last year you hoped for better days and you’ve worked to give yourself things you wanted. That shows you can work through adversity to make life even a little bit better.

Even if there were things that, for whatever reason, didn’t go your way you’ve carried on. That’s incredible in itself!

So one last question..

If you could offer the you from last year the life you had now, knowing the difficulties you’re currently facing, would you take it?

If you would, then it would seem, despite the challenges you face, you’re making your life better. So in a year’s time, that thing your brain is focusing on right now will just be another thing to add to the list of challenges you’ve overcome.

Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the compassion you’d give to a close friend. And give yourself the credit you deserve for how you navigate this life 😊

💡Top tips

Be kind to your mind – Your brain is only trying to help. Yeah it might be messing it up but punishing yourself for trying to help yourself is counterproductive.

See the whole picture – In times of stress we focus on the negative and it can become overwhelming. Step back from the moment and reflect on where you’re at. That huge challenge will seem much smaller when you see the great stuff you’re constantly doing for yourself.

Practice being good to yourself – We’re never taught how to deal with ourselves. So when we try to get out of auto-pilot it can feel strange and difficult. But being good to yourself isn’t a destination, it’s a tool for the journey. So keep practicing and see how it helps.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

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