When Everything Slows Down

Who Am I 5-1

It’s been hard to motivate myself since the pandemic created a massive change in everyone’s lives. It’s slowed down my already diminished “have to do” list. My routine has become, I wake, shower, meditate, eat, clean dishes, call family and friends, check the news, eat, clean dishes, watch movies on Netflix, sleep.

In between I procrastinate with reading what’s new during the pandemic—what changes are being made and when and how we will be able to move freely again. I am also lured into watching movies Netflix is adding to its site.

Eager to write for my blog again after taking time off to finish a book I’d written. I vowed that I’d write every day so I could post every week. But that’s not happening.

I confess to not having been a responsible blogger in the past. I didn’t always post fresh material each week.

But now it’s worse. I don’t feel the inclination to write about what I wrote before. That never stopped me from sitting at my computer until an idea propelled me on to write.

It’s possible that having slowed everything down to essentials in my life has resulted in not feeling any urgency to get my work done. My reaction to the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic was to double down on meditation and walk to commune with nature every day. I watch only movies and read books that are funny and/or uplifting. It’s my carefully calculated way of keeping myself from becoming depressed.

Knowing this is not who I am, I wonder how I can keep myself from feeling distracted each time I sit down to write. Having become so calm has turned into a problem.

My research brought up the fact that procrastination is because of discomfort, but at first that made little sense to me. Feeling discomfort writing before didn’t stop me from writing. It was a little anxiety that helped me to begin writing before.

We motivate ourselves to work with something outside ourselves. When our work is something we love to do, the work itself motivates us. Because I no longer had a routine, I needed to find extra motivation to work despite having lost what had motivated me before the pandemic.

Celebrated author Nir Eyal shares powerful insights on the science and psychology of procrastination in a podcast on Mindvalley. He says that everything we do is to escape discomfort. We need to learn how to control and manage our discomfort to take action.

In my case, needing to learn a novel way to manage my discomfort became my goal. First, I needed to acknowledge that involving myself with something other than what I planned to do was due to discomfort. By naming what it was, I realized whatever had my attention was procrastination, not anything else.

Nir Eyal offers two ways to do this. The first step is the 10 minute rule. You say to yourself, “I don’t crave distraction anymore. I can get past this distraction in 10 minutes”.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. You can either return to the task you wanted to do or sit with the discomforting sensations of either blame or shame.

Blamers criticize other people. “It’s So and So’s fault for keeping me from being able to work.“ Shamers condemn themselves. “If I had any guts, I wouldn’t be tempted with stuff that doesn’t serve me.“

Be present with the urge to blame or shame until it stops. Allow the thoughts to play out until they lose their strength.

The second step is for when you feel guilty about making time for entertainment. If you want to watch something on Netflix, instead of feeling guilty, if you intend when you want to do this, you are changing how you’re approaching what you think of distraction.

By determining the details first, getting the information, then defining by scheduling the time, you do it without feeling you’re procrastinating.

Another suggestion from Eyal is that if you set a period of time you will lock out on your calendar to work without distraction, you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of feeling pulled away from working to procrastinate.

These suggestions helped to help me overcome the fears that came up when I tried to write. Telling the truth to myself helped me define what was happening. Rather than judge my response, I could distinguish what action to take.

The best that’s come from facing the truth is I don’t crave distraction anymore. It’s so much more satisfying to feel good about a job well done.

Besides, now that procrastination is all right when I plan for it, I can still enjoy it.

 

 

 

How to Eliminate Irritating Negative Thoughts.

 

 The way to eliminate negative thoughts is to change them to positive thoughts. Sure, but how do we?

I’m sure you’ve heard of the inspirational best-seller-of-all-time, The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale. It was first published in 1953.

Besides the colossal success of Peale’s book, successful Happiness Courses are being taught at Harvard, Yale and other institutions. There have been many other books written about happiness, even Happiness songs. And achieving happiness has been the subject of many movies.

So why aren’t more Americans getting any happier? Only one in three Americans say they’re very happy, according to a recent Harris Poll.

I think this is why. I contend that our thoughts determine our feelings, and most of those thoughts are fearful, worrisome, or they’re scary.

Hardly conducive to a sunny disposition.

These negative feelings play havoc with our ability to see options. They impede feeling happy. They cloud our mind so we don’t perform in the most focused way.

The thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. They can come from an incident in the past. Sometimes they come after we begin something new, doubting our capabilities of succeeding. Or we may have a habitual thought come up repeatedly in the present.

All the feelings born of negative thoughts, if not questioned, become buried again until something else triggers them. Questioning the thought is the first step in preventing unwanted thoughts to crop up.

All the suffering that goes on inside our minds is not reality, says Byron Katie. It’s just a story we torture ourselves with.

To question a thought, you can use Byron Katie’s technique. Ask yourself;

Is it true?

If it still seems likely, ask yourself, “Can you absolutely know it’s true?”

How do I react – what happens – when I believe that thought?

Who would I be without the thought?

There’s a lot more you can learn about the questioning. Check out her website for more information: http://thework.com 

The common denominator of most thoughts that pop up is that they’re negative thoughts.

When we don’t question whether the thought is true, we may end up anxious, overwhelmed with doubt and uncertainty. We feel stressed.

Sometimes we feel like a victim, unable to see any other option but live with what we wish wasn’t happening.

Our thoughts and feelings have a huge impact on our body. This is because of the mind-body connection. Most of the time we act because of habit, without thinking, and let our negative emotions rule us. This can cause distress.

It’s hard to remain happy when we’re not feeling the higher vibrations of love, joy, and gratitude, and hope.

The way to remain happy is by developing the skill of having these positive emotions most of the time. Positive emotions broaden your sense of possibilities and open your mind. Thinking about remaining positive each time you feel negative emotions like sadness, fear, doubt, and guilt helps build new skills and resources that provide value in many areas of your life.

How can we build positive thinking in our lives?

In my last post, I described how to get over negative feelings. Anything that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love will work. Taking a walk, calling someone I love or cooking a favorite food to eat do the trick for me.

There are the three ways James Clear at JamesClear.com has found to increase positive thinking:

  1. Meditation – Recent research by Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, revealed that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions than those who do not. Some positive aspects I have experienced are stronger self-confidence, reduced stress, tension, and states of deep relaxation. I have a general feeling of wellbeing. It has lowered my blood pressure readings, and I’m able to concentrate and focus better than before.

I know some of you may be thinking, “No, not meditation again.” I used to feel that way. But with all wonderful new ways to meditate now, and with a little research, I’m confident you’ll find one you love and can’t wait to start your day.

2. Writing – James Clear, in his blog, The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work, tells about a study, published in the Journal of Research in Personality that the students who wrote about positive experiences had better mood levels, fewer visits to the health center, and experienced fewer illnesses than the group who wrote about a control topic.

I’ve been writing in a journal for eight years and writing posts on my blog for three years. I loved my journal from the start because writing my thoughts helped me discover ways to solve problems. The more positive outcomes I experienced, the more I became addicted to feeling positive. I began to look forward to each new positive experience I could write about.

Another way to feel more positive is to use your journal every day to write what you’re grateful for. Gratitude provides a cumulative effect of positivity.

3. Play is another way to feel positive. Schedule time each day or at least weekly to do something that makes you feel happy. You might hike up a mountain or pursue some adventure. Maybe it’s spending time with a certain person or finding a hobby you love.

When we are ready to make positive changes in our lives, we attract whatever we need to help us.” Louise Hay

Facing a new challenge can feel daunting at first but if you persevere, you’ll find it getting easier. Each time a new experience affirms you’ve progressed, trust me, you will be happier.

Bonus; Esther Hicks, inspired by Abraham, generously provides videos of her answers to questions from people in her many workshops in over 50 cities in the United States. The videos are uplifting and filled with positive vibes. I used to watch these as I was learning to think positively. I still do from time to time.

Check out the videos at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Abraham-Hicks-Daily

http://www.thesecret-lawofattraction.net/abraham-hicks-youtube

Or go to her main website for more information at:

https://www.abraham-hicks.com/

For more on how your thoughts affect you, go to:

https://dorettab.com/warning-your-thoughts-are-your-worst-enemy/

Warning/ Your Thoughts Are Your Worst Enemy

We know thoughts crop up out of nowhere. Some are a nuisance, scaring us do something we planned or causing guilt over something we did long ago. We put up with them, but maybe they’re not just a nuisance. Maybe they are detrimental to our well-being.

When I was younger, I wasn’t able to visualize myself getting any older than 45 years of age. That was the age I had set a goal to have a one-woman show of my artwork in New York City. 

The future was beyond my imagination.

My artwork was the only reason I had to feel worthy and enjoy living. I was unhappy in my marriage and struggling to find contentment. I cried every night to release pain and sorrow.

Finally, without a reason to go on living, I let go of holding on to my dilemma and sought help. My husband told me we couldn’t afford a psychologist, but I surprised myself by responding, “I can’t afford not to go.” It was the first time I had felt the confidence to stand up to his controlling tendency.

I was ready for a new beginning.

Thus began a journey into my mind. Volumes of hidden anger—somewhere I had learned it wasn’t proper for a woman to express her indignation—and an inability to perceive that I might have options, were among the many glaring traits I discovered.

The resentment raging from deep inside me at my first meeting with the psychologist surprised me, but the relief of finally being able to let go of the rage felt freeing. I went on for over an hour before I could stop ranting.

I didn’t realize I had set in motion a huge change in my life. I had instinctively taken the action I needed to discover why I had become so unhappy, and I opened possibilities that blew my mind.

I observed the thoughts in my mind. I realized the thoughts were creating the feelings I was experiencing. For instance, for whatever reason, I noticed that I was telling myself, “I feel sad,” right before a shower.  But the moment I realized what I was thinking wasn’t true—wasn’t what I was feeling—I knew for sure my thoughts had created the feeling.

Why do negative thoughts pop up in our minds?

Barry Gordon, professor of neurology and cognitive science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, replies: We are aware of a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious thoughts. The majority of our thinking goes on subconsciously. Only one or two of these thoughts are likely to breach into consciousness at a time. Slips of the tongue and accidental actions offer glimpses of our unfiltered subconscious mental life.

How do unconscious thoughts influence our behavior?

Researchers have long known negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. It’s the fight-or-flight response to danger. It’s the ego’s way of helping you stay safe. But constant negativity can also impede happiness, add to our stress and worry level, and ultimately damage our health.

When you’re in the fight-or-flight response mode, your emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When you’re facing danger, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. Your brain ignores any option that isn’t focused on the immediate action you must take to avoid a calamity. 

This is useful when you’re trying to save yourself from getting hurt, but in most cases unnecessary. The problem is that your brain is programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way—by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.

This takes us back to my story of waking up to the fact that thoughts create feelings. One of the most striking traits in myself when I noticed my negative thoughts were my being unaware of my options.

My Aha! moment happened while sharing a story with my psychologist. Our maid was off every Sunday. I would ask my husband to take me and our four children to dinner on those nights. Getting four young children ready was almost as hard as preparing dinner and cleaning up afterward, but I liked being able to get out of the house one night a week. 

Often, at the last-minute, all of us ready to go, my husband would decide that he’d rather eat at home. He’d go to the grocery store for TV dinners, and, frustrated, I’d cry. “Why didn’t you go out without him?”, my psychologist asked me.

It was as if a light bulb lit up inside my mind. I hadn’t fathomed I had options. I must have believed I had to do as told.

“If you realized just how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” Anonymous

 It takes time, but little by little, by questioning the unwanted thoughts flitting through my mind, I discovered that changing my thoughts to more positive ones—ones that weren’t out of the realm of believing—I noticed myself able to work at an ideal level. I was feeling more optimistic, feeling more freedom, and feeling happier. 

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

In my follow-up to this post, I will share with you how to stop negative thoughts. In the meantime, try the first step to stopping them. Don’t try to stop them by telling yourself you have to stop thinking about the obsessive thought. Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts. Instead, notice you’re in a negative cycle and own it. 

Question if the thought is true. If it isn’t true, try something that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love. It could be your favorite music, a walk in the park, or talking to a friend. We’ll begin work on ending the annoying thoughts in my next post.

If you have questions or want me to discuss any issue about your thoughts, please comment below.