I have learned behaviour from childhood where I can over analyse everything, worrying over the smallest thing. That’s why I love mindfulness. Now if someone says something where I automatically go into panic mode I know I can think “it’s just my thoughts”, and everyone’s thoughts create their own realities.
If you observe your thoughts while being mindful you notice they are mainly negative. I used to panic just seeing a bill arrive in the post, even though I had enough money in the bank to pay for it. Now I pay most of my bills by direct debit.
We are so good at thinking the worse. I know I did. If I was invited to a party I wouldn’t think “great, an opportunity to meet new people”, I’d instead think “argh, new people. I won’t know what to say and people might think I’m stupid!”
The same goes for body image. We are bombarded by social media how we should look, how thin we should be, how much cellulite we should have. And before social media, there were magazines telling us the same. The unachievable body that you always try to attain.
I am a mother, and carer to my youngest son who has learning difficulties. I used to feel guilty, even though my time was taken up, because the media makes out that you’re only a real woman if you have a career. So I felt that being a carer and homemaker, I wasn’t pursuing a career. I was letting the family down because we were living off carers allowance and my husband’s wage. We had the odd holiday here and there – but not every year, and when our latest car broke we made the choice not to replace it as we couldn’t afford to.
It’s easy to compare yourself to others, but that doesn’t make you happy. Everyone has their own idea of what makes them happy.
Yes, a car would be nice. I could visit different parks and woodlands at the weekend with the dogs. But my local one will suffice. Holidays are great, but we can still do day trips. Besides, who doesn’t like an afternoon in the garden when it’s sunny for an impromptu BBQ?! I feel I am lucky because I was able to raise my children, whereas some mother’s would love to have been stay at home moms but were forced into work for the money, and possibly felt guilty too.
I treat my thoughts as if it is a conversation with a friend. If I think to myself “huh, I washed up last night and everyone has eaten snacks since and left me more washing this morning,” I first think, “it’s just a thought”. Then I will look at the thought as if I’m chatting with a friend. And I’ll say back, “well you could calmly point out to everyone that you’d really appreciate if they tidied up after themselves in the evening.” Then I would say that for that morning you could wash up. It would take 5 minutes and you could practice mindfulness while doing it. I would explain that nobody in the house would realise they were being rude leaving their dirty dishes and pots, that it wasn’t a personal attack.
And from that I would see that reality. That my family loves me and weren’t out to ruin my day by leaving just a few dirty items. Everyone has their own reality, they imagine each others points of view differently. And with this example I can tackle any subject rationally.
If someone was in a bad mood, well I used to take it personally and become very defensive. My mood would lower and either I’d spend the day feeling I was rubbish at doing something or I’d think of all the things that person did that annoyed me. And all the things they did a year ago that annoyed me. Dragging up old arguments, etc. Now if someone is feeling grumpy, I leave them to their bad mood. I can rationalise it’s not personally aimed at me, and by leaving them alone, or refusing to be sucked into an argument, they will soon return to a happier way of being. And if there’s a problem we can discuss it rationally, once they are calm and everyone is level headed.
Everything is so much easier once you’re mindful, and you find you judge yourself and others far less. You realise you’re not in a competition with the rest of the world. It’s just you. Right here. Right now.