The one thing we all have in times of stress, sadness, guilt, frustration and anger, is the power to change our mindset. It might seem like emotions of this nature are uncontrollable, and that negative events happen to us, but the reality is, no person and no activity can make us feel a certain way. We create our own thoughts based on intrinsic beliefs and expectations, which influence our emotions.
As a counsellor, I can’t change the people you work with, the lack of communication from your spouse, the death of a loved one or the sexual abuse you experienced as a child. Every one of these can contribute to anxiety, anger or grief, but what makes someone stay living in this state, and others speak out, start a foundation, write a book? The difference is ownership of mindset and deciding to not let negative energy control future actions – or inactions.
Where energy goes, energy flows
One notion that guides counsellors and coaches alike is the theory that’s where energy goes, energy flows. This means that if you focus on the negative, pretty soon everything around you will feel hard, wrong or challenging. On the flip side, if you choose to find things to be grateful for or see learnings in, positive energy flows into the world around you.
A loved one might pass away and no one can change the impact their loss has on your life, but choosing to be thankful for the memories, the good times, the lessons they taught you and the hope that they can continue to influence your life can mean you stop and smile at the butterfly on the windowsill, seek out volunteering work to carry on their legacy and give back to the community or empower you to make bold decisions knowing that life is short.
It’s your mindset that creates the world around you, not the physical environment
You could be in the exact same environment as another person, and you may both have a very different take away from it. In times of utter devastation, such as intense trauma or grave illnesses or injury, why is it that not all those exposed to the catastrophe fall to pieces? Why do some go on to thrive, become speakers or cause-related advocates, travel and simply make the most of their life, and others find reasons to place blame or justify shrinking away? Because each of us go where our minds take us. When it takes more muscles and energy to frown than it does to smile, and when stress, anxiety and worry can infiltrate on everyday life, why choose this path over happiness, hope and a healthy mindset?
I’m not saying we should never feel these emotions – indeed it’s through feeling low that we can appreciate the benefits of positive emotions. It’s also our body’s way of telling us we need to address the issue so that we can move forward. But how long we experience and what we do with these emotions is something that is within our control.
Have a think about what’s bothering you most right now. Try considering:
- how can you look at the situation from another perspective?
- what can you be grateful for as a result of this situation?
- what would you tell a close friend who was thinking or feeling what you are?
These exercises are just a few exercises you can do at home, but there is a whole range of strategies we introduce in counselling, to help you move past the sticking point that holds you back, so that you can move forward without such a weight on your shoulders.
Get in touch if you want to finally lay to rest past or reoccurring beliefs that are holding you back.