Many people are so focused on their feelings and thoughts that they neglect to actually live…
A lot of people are plagued by unwanted thoughts and feelings.
Happiness requires you to balance your inner world and the outer world
Why does this have to happen to me? Why is the world so horrible, terrible and unfair? Why this so much suffering? Why can’t I be like everyone else? I suffered so much already!
Many of my clients complain about these and similar things. They are utterly unhappy and desolate. They wake up in the morning and immediately start feeling anxious and worried, sad and hopeless or angry, very angry. They can find no meaning to things and consider life to be terribly hard. What is the sense of all this?
Something I discovered when working with people who feel like this is that they all share a habit of spending many hours in their heads. They devote A LOT of their days to thinking, musing, worrying, planning and much less to doing, experiencing, sharing and actually living. They are seldom fully present in their immediate reality but inside their thoughts. That disconnection from reality and their keen interest in their own beings often results in profoundly self-centered beings who neglect to live in favor of thinking.
And then they ask professionals for advice: therapists, doctors, psychologists, coaches and the like. Many of them recommend them to meditate, practice mindfulness and focus on their feelings and thoughts. Really?!? That’s exactly what these people are doing all day long! The more time they spend introspecting and analyzing what they feel and think, the deeper they will be inside their heads and minds and the less connected to the outside world. Sorry, I fully, totally disagree with that approach! What these people need is just the opposite: they need to feel alive and connected; they need to be busy with something that is not themselves. And they need to be busy with something that focuses their minds on something that is not them!
Not thinking about themselves will help them lower their level of anxiety or guilt. The more they feel anxious, guilty, sad, and so on, the stronger and more established the feeling becomes. Having some periods of time in the day in which they are NOT thinking about their misery will then lower their level of negative thoughts and feelings. As a result, they will slowly also start more in control and happier with themselves.
If you are one of those people in constant pain, why don’t you try a different approach? After all, what else can you lose?
If you are finding your suffering overwhelming try the following for the following week:
- Decide you’ve had enough: Unless you decide it’s time to change and want to really give it a try, it won’t work. This will require a little effort from you. If you really are tired of your life experience, if you really want to stop feeling bad, if you really want to start living a different way, the first, fundamental step is to decide to change; to decide to devote your energy and effort to change what is causing your pain. Then do ALL of the following…
- Be busy: Idleness gives you too much time to think, muse and daydream, all of which can be negative for you when you already feel overwhelmed. You need to keep your mind entertained and focused on other things that you enjoy. Divide your days into chunks of time and fill those with different activities. Apart from work and sleep, try to not devote more than 2 hours to anyone activity each day. When doing those things, make sure to be focused on them.
- Bring variety into your life: Repetitive, boring, easy tasks allow you to focus on your thoughts and feelings while doing them. I’ve had clients working in their office, repeating the same tasks over and over again, while being completely detached and focused on their sad thoughts. Seek variety. Look for and start doing a lot of different things. Go from one to the next while changing environments, surroundings, actions and people. The busier and more entertained you are, the better for your mental and spiritual health.
- Help somebody who’s not you: Yes, look for a charity, a friend, a relative or a neighbour who needs help and devote one or two hours a week or a day to helping them. Your help should imply effort. If your help is too easy or if you find yourself helping them but still focused on your thoughts and feelings, the help you’re offering them is too easy and repetitive. Look for something else you can do to help that is a bit more demanding.
- Move: Choose some kind of physical activity that requires your concentration. Dance, run, work in somebody’s garden, help at a farm, take a self-defence course or go to the gym with a friend. Do something that really tires you and forces you to focus on the task.
- Remind yourself: When people are inside their mind, it’s very difficult for them to keep connected to the outside world. It can be difficult for them to remember to get out of their head and remain present. Place small reminders in your home and at work; maybe small notes saying things such as: ‘look around and connect,’ ‘get out of your mind now,’ ‘stand up and go talk to somebody,’ ‘stand up and do something different,’ ‘look around now and discover something you hadn’t seen before,’ and the like. You can also ask those living or working with you to give you a hand and remind you to leave your thoughts and feelings whenever they see you withdrawn.
- Celebrate. Whenever you manage to focus on something that is not your thoughts or feelings or whenever you enjoy doing something, celebrate it. Jump up, twirl, kiss your cheeks, do a little dance, laugh aloud… whatever you choose, but celebrate it somehow. That will tell your brain that you did right and will start creating a new brain pathway in you.
Once you try this for a week, observe yourself again. Are you feeling better? Remember, you need to be constant and persistent. You have the power to change your life for the better.
Enjoy your life… ALL of it.
Jessica J. Lockhart at Humanology. See jessicajlockhart.com
For further reading, you may also enjoy Unlearning Unlove.