A wonderful video to explain how to detach from difficult or unhelpful thoughts.
Sometimes saying ‘no’ feels worse than saying ‘yes’.
Just the thought of saying no to someone makes me anxious. I think I have been programmed to say yes to helping anyone who asks and feel an immense sense of guilt for even contemplating the idea that a ‘no’ is even in the realms of possibility. Recently, I have come to realise that for my own peace of mind, I am going to have to learn to say no and not feel anxious or guilty about it. Quite often, I do give a lot of myself away – and don’t get me wrong – I like to help if I can, but I am coming round to the realization that if it isn’t family that’s asking, and I don’t have the time or ability to do it, then I am going to have to turn that idea, project, work down because I will hit the overwhelm button if I do.
Great… so that’s the new plan. Turning things down. Saying no to someone. I can do this…
Well, yes I can, but what happens is that my stomach gets into knots, my chest feels tight because the guilt and anxiety are taking over. I want to know that the person I have said no to will be ok with my decision. I feel worried that by saying no, I have let things in the relationship down. So what do I do?
Well, I am a mindfulness practitioner and I am learning to deal with these times by using my practice. What does that involve exactly?
Just sit and be with the emotion
Dr Dan Siegel coined the phrase “Name it to tame it”. So I do exactly that. What is the name of the emotion that I am feeling? I need to be clear on this. For me, this means sitting and just thinking about what I am feeling. Labelling the emotion gives it space.
Describe how it physically feels
This has become easier by practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, but it all starts with a body scan. Gently close your eyes and scan your body from head to toe. Notice the areas that feel comfortable or uncomfortable. Once I have isolated the parts that are uncomfortable, I focus on the physical sensations. I describe to myself (in my head and silently of course), how guilty feels or how anxiety feels. One is in my stomach and the other in my chest. I get specific. Is it tight? Is it like a weight? Is it warm or hot? Is it like butterflies? Is it intense? Get to know how the emotion physically manifests itself in your body.
I then spend the next few minutes just breathing in and out and focusing on that area. I allow myself to feel the anxiety and the guilt. I give myself permission to have those emotions. I don’t distract myself from them or bury my head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist. I give the emotions an opportunity to get my full and undivided attention.
And once it does…. It doesn’t need to keep getting bigger and I feel the weight in my chest or the knots in my stomach just slowly disappear.
Worth a try…. See if it helps!
Mallika Kripalani was interviewed on how mindfulness impacts children in school and the benefits of starting a practice.
Helping children cope with stress: Meditate…and breathe
These days people are much more aware of what mindfulness is, or at least what they believe mindfulness to be.
If we look at secular mindfulness, then I feel that the definition becomes about ‘open awareness, curiosity and staying in the present moment, without judgement, as much as we can. This combines the definitions of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn and Dr Russ Harris. It is this combination of mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT) that, I believe, has the power to change how we approach life.
Life is full of wonderful moments but also about difficulties and challenges. To be honest, if it wasn’t about some of the negatives, I’m not sure it would be as meaningful! Am I saying we should court stressful moments – no, of course not! I’m saying that we should be learning strategies to deal with these tough times and drop the struggle with them. Learning to accept all our emotions – positive or negative – is the key to mindful acceptance and prevents us from the constant struggle that some of us are embroiled in.
That’s a nice idea, you say…. but, how do you do this? Learning how to connect with your values – to who you want to be in relation to yourself, to the people around you and the world helps us understand what actions and behaviors we need to have in order to live our lives to the best of our ability.
In ACT, this is known as psychological flexibility. This is defined by
‘….the ability to contact the present moment more fully as a conscious human being, and to change or persist in behavior when doing so serves valued ends. Psychological flexibility is established through six core ACT processes. Each of these areas are conceptualized as a positive psychological skill…’*
So what are these 6 core processes and what does that mean?
The 6 core processes in ACT are :
Contacting the Present moment
What you would essentially called mindfulness but not just in a formal way, but an informal one too
Understanding that experiences happen – both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and that we need to learn strategies to accept them rather than avoid them
Who do you want to be? Who do you want to stand for? Clarifying these is key in understanding how to deal with life and its challenges.
Making realistic goals for living the life you want once you clarify your values
The noticing self or the observing self. Being able to step back a little and notice what’s going on
Unhooking from the thoughts and feelings that grab you.
Understanding and applying these processes in our lives can be transformative. A real game changer in the way we live.
For more information, please do get in touch so I can discuss these with you personally.
* (Ref: )
This video explains mindfulness in a nutshell.