4: With your trusted person, and with the spirit of kindness to yourself, look carefully at your past and present behaviours. We need to recognise that we cannot control the behaviour of others. What we can do is to plan to find ways to deal with our own emotions and behaviour so that we can enjoy the rest of our lives as well as we can. We have this choice.
Everyone is different and will want to explore different ideas, but some things to be looking out for could be,
- Ruminating and replaying events and conversations.
- Jealousy over relationships and situations.
- Spending more time mentally in the past than in the present.
- Excessive behaviours: eating, drinking, shopping, smoking, internet use, (insert your own) beyond what feels ok.
- Telling your story to more others than feels ok, looking for people to be on your side.
- Not giving others the benefit of the doubt, being negative.
- Not taking your share of the responsibility, blaming others. Not seeing any shades of grey.
Some of these are coping strategies, some are habits, we need to think about how well they serve us and if we want to let go of them. Just noticing them is good, as once we know about them and where they come from, we have more chance of making changes.
What do you think of these ideas to keep our minds in the present moment, from Mindfulness Based CBT?
Our minds are like puppies: they will go their own way and examine whatever takes their fancy, healthy or not, because that is what minds and puppies do! We can treat our own minds with kindness and understanding and lead them gently back on track as we would an innocent puppy. If our thoughts are going off in directions we feel are unhealthy for us, we can lead them back to a different focus. It is helpful to keep this in mind with all the exercises below.
This helps us to keep an eye on our inner climate. Practicing it regularly is a bit like going to the gym: it builds up resilience and helps us prepare for emotional marathons we may need to complete in the future. Like going to the gym, it only works if you do it!
Find a time when you regularly have a few minutes to yourself to begin. After a while it will become a habit, you can do it anywhere you have found helpful, several times a day.
Take a long luxurious breath…
Observe what is going on in your mind and body without judgement, (puppy). What is your emotional weather like at present?
Proceed with what you were doing.
Mindful eating. Moving the focus of our thoughts to food.
Helps us to fully enjoy our food and gives the mind some focussing practice too. Before you even start to eat, switch off the TV, close down the computer and resolve to concentrate your attention on your meal alone. Observe the look and smell of your meal for a few seconds. Notice any bodily sensations which are aroused. Take a mouthful and avoid chewing for a moment or two, notice how this feels. Continue with your meal noticing feedback from your emotions, as well as all five senses.
This time the focus is your feet. If you are in a safe place to do so, slow your walking right down and feel the sensations in the muscles in your legs and feet as you move and notice the texture of the ground you are walking on. When your thoughts wander, return your attention to your feet.
Co-ordinate your breathing with your walking pace: for example, three steps for each in breath, and three steps for each out breath (or what is appropriate for you). Your focus then would be the breath; this is where your attention returns when stray thoughts creep in.
Or make your focus what is going on around you. Notice what each of your senses picks up from your surroundings.
Mindfulness in daily life.
There are many everyday tasks which can be used to give our minds a break from their constant chatter, bringing our attention to the present moment and using the task as a focus.
In a nutshell- Practice staying in the present moment, find ways to calm your busy mind to give yourself a break from its chatter.