What does peace of mind mean to you?
Maybe it’s something you haven’t thought about that much.
To be fair, why would you? It’s not top of our priority lists. We don’t drop our spoons while eating breakfast and suddenly think; I need to up my peace of mind!
I don’t remember it being taught at school – and getting more peace of mind isn’t something that fits into conversation with your mates.
But getting more peace of mind is your key to so many benefits. A lot less anxiety and stress. Enjoying the moment rather than dreading the future. Being able to relax without panic setting in. Feeling less angry and resentful. These are just a few of the benefits peace of mind will give you.
In other words, it’s well worth taking a second to think about how you can get more of it.
What is Peace of Mind?
Going back to my original question, ‘what does peace of mind mean to you?’, I can tell you what it means to me. Peace of mind is not being controlled by anxiety, worry and stress – and not letting these things destroy my life like they used to. It’s being able to enjoy doing things in life (even the basic things) without dreading doing them. At the very basic level, it’s being able to sit and close my mind off to all the BS life throws at us. It’s being able to feel the anger, hate and resentment that builds up in us all at times, but also being able to stop these emotions from destroying my day, week and year.
You might have a different answer. Everyone is different.
But we can all benefit from feeling better. I’m sure we can all agree with that. We can all benefit from less anxiety and stress, and more balance, control and joy.
Although peace of mind isn’t something you get overnight, it is something you can work towards getting more of. And you can start today.
The best time to plant a tree was forty years ago. The second-best time is today.
The reason I say more peace of mind is because, for most of us, absolute peace of mind is pretty difficult to achieve. It’s reserved for the monks and the Buddhists. Most of us have got these things that get in the way of our peace of mind called jobs, money and relationships.
Assuming you’re not planning to ditch these things and take a trip to the Tibetan mountains to rekindle with your inner spirit, here are some other everyday practices you can start implementing to get more peace of mind – available to us all.
Living in the Now
Living in the now (in the present moment) is a skill not to be overlooked.
Our anxiety and stress are caused by worrying about the future (what might happen) and the past (what has already happened). When we learn to live more in the present moment, it cuts the worry about the future and the past and, in turn, breaks the cycle of anxiety and stress. At the very least, it interrupts the anxiety and stress, giving you the break you need to sort your thoughts out.
The best book I’ve read on living in the now is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It goes deep into what living in the now means and ways to achieve it. Because of its deep message, it is spiritual and heavy at times. But when you wade through the heavy stuff, the message is clear and profound.
To many, the message is life-changing.
Focus on What You Want
Your focus is everything. What you focus on you get more of.
If you’re dealing with high levels of anxiety and stress, it’s because you’re focusing on it. You might think not focusing on your problems and worry is easier said than done. I more than most hear that and know exactly what you mean.
But it is worth remembering that you have a choice. We always do.
By placing your focus on the things that you can control, rather than on the things that are only going to produce more worry, you’re choosing to at least try to change your state of mind. Your anxiety, stress and worry might not drop instantaneously, but given time, it will continue to fade as you continue to focus on the productive things in your life – the things you can control.
By focusing on these things, your strength and mental energy will grow, and you’ll be ready to start managing all those problems that were causing you all that hassle.
Do the Things You Enjoy
Talking about focus and balance, there is no better way to improve both of these things than by doing the things you enjoy.
It’s the most obvious suggestion from the bunch, but I mention it because we’re all guilty of not doing enough of the things we enjoy. The usual routine for most of us is getting up in the morning, going to work, getting stuck in traffic, scoffing our dinner, watching a bit of TV and going to bed. Where’s the balance?
If you’re dealing with too much of the negative monotonous stuff without balancing it out by doing the stuff you enjoy, you’ll topple over.
So here’s a quick question: What did you do last that you really enjoyed?
Do it again, and don’t stop doing it.
Ditch the Need for Revenge
Here’s a good one you might not have considered.
One of the quickest and easiest routes to more peace of mind is ditching the need to revenge.
We get so caught about he did this, and she did that, we forget about how it makes us feel.
Pride takes hold, and we end up doing things we regret.
Pride is bullshit. Pride will keep you trapped. Ditch it, and quick.
What did getting angry ever do for you? It might make you feel good to hit something or spit your venom for a bit, but what is the feeling of resentment doing for you? It’s normal to blow off a bit of steam, but it’s important that we learn to move on. The alternative is a constant pattern of bitterness that rots us from the inside out.
Content people don’t need to revenge.
Concentrate on being yourself. Don’t allow the actions and words of others to dictate how you want to act and feel. Go about your own business and run your own race.
If someone is acting in a way you don’t like, it doesn’t mean you have to act in the same way. Acting differently is exactly what you want. It’s what allows you to live in a different state of mind to the masses – a more peaceful state of mind.
You’ll always achieve the greatest peace of mind by being true to yourself – by being the good person that you are.
🎙️ Take a listen to the Podcast: Get More Peace of Mind.
(Don’t forget to subscribe and rate.)
I fully respect doctors and the work they do. There is no doubt those guys have a tough job.
Anxiety-related symptoms and disorders make their job ten times harder.
Because anxiety and stress can be related to pretty much any symptom. Headache. Neck ache. Sore throat. Fever. Fatigue. Sleeping problems. An itchy toe. You name it – it’s linked.
I was in and out of the doctor’s surgery.
I didn’t have a clue if I were coming or going – and I don’t think the doctor did either.
The constant need for reassurance was the overriding issue.
If you’re stuck in a cycle of anxiety (fear), it’s likely you’ll be visiting the doctor often. It’s also very likely you’ll be hitting the internet to see Dr Google for answers.
You might stay stuck in the cycle because you’re not finding the answers you’re looking for.
Because I know how deep the need for answers and constant reassurance goes, I want to give you some quick answers to typical anxiety-related symptoms and disorders that you won’t hear from the doctor.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Summed up, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is created because we feel out of control in at least one area of our lives. OCD is a way for us to try and get that control back – even if it means coming up with pointless routines that don’t mean anything. So if you hate your job, for example, and feel like there is nothing you can do about it, you might develop OCD as a way of coping with it. Getting back in control (or at least feel like you’re in control) will stop the need for compulsive behaviour.
In short, panic attacks are bullies that we create when we’re dealing with high anxiety. We become hypersensitive to all our bodily feelings, and when something is off kilter, even slightly, it can cause us to panic (have a panic attack). When you start managing high anxiety better by implementing all the proper lifestyle and mindset changes, panic attacks become a thing of the past.
At its very basic level, social anxiety is the need to avoid other people. When you’re highly anxious and stressed, one of the last things you feel like doing is going to make idle small talk with your mates. When we feel like crap, we prefer to do it in the comfort of our own homes. Longer-term issues with social anxiety arise because avoidance feels good (at first). As time goes by, social anxiety gets worse when we appreciate a reclusive lifestyle isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. When we get comfortable with the fact that EVERYONE deals with the same issues, including high anxiety and stress, we stop feeling so isolated. We also improve relationships with others – and in turn, drop the social anxiety.
Getting straight to the point, health anxiety is the fear of death. If you’re familiar with my DP Rule from Anxiety Rebalance, you’ll know that our two primary fears are Death and People. When you start dealing with these fears, health anxiety becomes much less of an issue.
Constant Worrying Thoughts
In a nutshell, constant worrying thoughts are brought about by the ‘what if’ type thoughts we produce when we’re anxious and stressed. ‘What if this. . . What if that. . .’. One thought leads to the next, and before you know it, a small problem has turned into a monster. Learning to control our thoughts will stop the monster from getting out of control.
Depression (Depressive Thoughts)
Very simplified, depression is a lack of energy and willpower. Being highly anxious and stressed zaps our energy. Energy gives you the get-up-and-go you need for the things you want (and need) to do in life – even the basic everyday things take energy. You can’t do anything without energy. When you’re ready to start working on upping your energy levels through various methods, like good diet and exercise, it helps combat the negative and depressive thoughts.
Planning on building a nest in the mountains?
How’s about hunting for small mammals?
Not very useful, everyday stuff. I get that. You’re happy with your cosy bed and prefer your meat when it’s not running away from you.
But there is much more we can learn from the amazing creature that is the eagle.
Eagles operate on another level when it comes to their way of thinking. If we can act on just one of these things, we can start elevating our own lives.
Here are six of the top lessons an eagle can teach us.
(Although I have nothing against pigeons, I’ve used them in my examples to demonstrate the opposite of what an eagle does. It’s got a lot to do with the fact that, if a pigeon crossed an eagle’s path, it wouldn’t be one of its best days.)
1. Eagles fly above the clouds
When there is a storm, birds take shelter in the trees. Eagles take flight and soar above the clouds to avoid the storm altogether. When the pigeons are squabbling, let them squabble. Use your soaring capabilities and fly above it to a place of quiet and tranquillity. The clouds will shelter you from the unnecessary and pointless noise below. The next time you find yourself getting involved, think like an eagle and soar above it.
2. Eagles are loyal
Eagles are monogamous and generally mate for life. Behind every strong man is the love of a good woman, and of course, vice versa. You’ll find pigeons interbreeding and not being too fussy about what back they jump on. In human terms, this means lots of one-night stands that lead to your private bits dropping off. Keep your bits intact and think like an eagle – stay loyal.
3. You don’t see eagles coming
If you’re familiar with the film Avatar, they call it ‘The Last Shadow’. If an eagle’s prey saw a shadow above them, it would be the last shadow they ever saw. Be cautious about putting all your cards on the table. Not everyone needs to know your next move. The element of surprise can be effective.
4. Eagles play the sole game
There is strength in numbers, and it’s said that a wolf’s pack is its true strength. But it’s also worth noting that pigeons flock together and congregate in groups. Eagles hunt and fly alone. Bruce Willis kicked a bunch of bad guys ass in Die Hard all by himself. Don’t be afraid to operate by yourself, just like Bruce and the eagle.
5. An eagle sees things
An eagle’s sight is about five times better than ours – we can’t compete with that. An eagle will see things well in advance of what a pigeon would. But a human operating with an eagle’s foresight might be able to predict the future quicker and therefore act before anyone else. Knowledge is potential power – it only becomes powerful when you take action. When you arm yourself with knowledge and act on it, you will be steps ahead. I bet if an eagle could read you’d see them in libraries all the time.
6. An eagles tears prevent infection
Men in particular need to pay attention to this one - due to the macho demeanour we like to portray and belief that crying equals weakness. Man, woman or beast, having the odd cry is normal and OK. Eagles are so aware of this fact that their tears prevent their eyes from becoming infected. Maybe if we all had a good cry every now and again (men included) and didn’t suppress our shit, we would be less susceptible to infection ourselves?
Be an eagle.
How is your relationship with food?
Over the years, my relationship with food has been an interesting one.
I love food. And what anyone says, food is love.
I regard eating out in a decent restaurant as one of life’s few pleasures.
Because of the above, I’ve never quite cracked the body that I would consider as being ‘toned and athletic’. The machine at my gym says I’m ‘solid’ and ‘borderline obese’. After swearing at it and giving it a swift kick, I come to agree with the fact that I could benefit from losing a few pounds.
But do you not think it’s also important to strike a balance somewhere?
You can sacrifice too much in life - to the point where sacrifice means absolute torture. The thought of not being able to eat out and living off leafy salad every day sends a shiver down my spine. I’d rather tuck into a spaghetti bolognese (a vegetarian one – I’ll come to this in a second) than a garden salad.
With this said, my relationship with food has got better.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that I had to make significant changes in my diet to resolve issues with my high anxiety.
I used to live off takeaways and fast food, and without me realising it, my diet had a profound effect on how I felt, including my levels of anxiety and stress.
It’s only since I’ve sorted my diet out I’ve come to discover that food, drink, and everything else we consume is one the biggest contributors to how we feel, including our mood and well-being.
I’m no nutritionist, health expert or health freak. I won’t pretend to be an expert when it comes to diet. I can only go on my personal experience and the knowledge I’ve picked up from others. Here, I’m sharing some of this knowledge about a few of our biggest consumptions, including the things that, when addressed, can change your life significantly.
My intention with this blog is simple: To get you thinking about what you’re putting in your mouth – because you are what you eat, drink and consume.
Just by changing a few habits, whether about food, drink, or anything else that goes between your lips, it can make a serious impact on your life.
Processed Food & Sugar
‘Fat-free’ advertising is massively misleading.
What do you think when you see ‘fat-free’? You think: That must be healthy, right?
The reason it’s so misleading is the sugar content. A product, like fat-free yoghurt, might well be fat-free, but it’s crammed full of sugar – which is just as bad for you!
When food is processed and refined, like white sugar, it goes through a process that takes it from being natural to very unnatural. That’s why all the white stuff, like white sugar, white bread and white rice are so bad for us. By the time they come out of the other end, they are transformed into something that we need to think twice about consuming.
Just look at it like this: What were our ancestors eating?
It depends how far you want to go back to answer this question.
If we go back about 10,000 years, we were eating plants, meat, eggs and fish – straight off the land. It’s only been in about the last 100 years (1910’s) that we’ve started eating processed foods. In other words, our bodies aren’t designed to deal with as much processed food as we tank into them.
Our bodies have naturally evolved to have more of a varied diet, but it wasn’t designed to healthily consume things like humanmade trans fat – the type of fat you find in cakes and biscuits that increase its shelf life – commonly linked with obesity, heart attacks, high cholesterol, diabetes and strokes.
If you’ve read the news recently, you’ll also see processed foods being linked to cancer.
And where did processed food come from?
Like most other things that are bad for us, it comes about from the need for profit – the need for companies to make money. Putting food through a series of processing makes producing large quantities of food cheaper and makes the company more profitable.
The solution and conclusion?
Eat as much raw, unprocessed and organic foods as you can.
My relationship with meat, like with food in general, has been mixed.
The longest time I spent not eating meat was about six months. I have to say; it felt pretty good – to the point I’m not entirely sure why I ate meat again.
At the time of writing this, I’ve been off meat again for about two months, and this time I plan to make it stick.
One of the biggest influences in my decision was when I watched the documentary What the Health. If you haven’t seen it, the documentary explores the meat industry and tells us why a vegan-based diet is best for us.
The documentary, like so many others within its genre, has come under fire for supporting weak data. I’m not really bothered about that. For me, the message was strong enough to support my existing concerns about the meat industry.
Whether you’re into animal welfare or not, meat is one of the biggest subjects we need to address when it comes to our diet and how we feel. Why? Just take a second to think about how much meat you consume (if you’re a meat-eater). It’s a ton of the stuff.
In today’s culture, a meal isn’t complete unless there is a bit of meat on the plate. For me, that meant I ate meat every day. Now you have an idea of volume, think about these other few things.
- You are eating what the animals eat.
- Do you know what is going into the meat to preserve it (both when the animal is alive and dead)?
- How many animals are being killed daily to feed you and the world’s population?
- The thing you see on the plate is very different to the living creature grazing happily on the field.
I’m not preaching here. I certainly don’t want to make you feel like eating meat is a bad thing, and you are a bad person for doing it. Based on the thirty plus years I ate meat, that would make me a hypocrite. I’m not the type of semi-vegetarian who will slap it in your face. If you love meat, I will cook it for you.
As I mentioned, this isn’t a blog about me telling you what you should and shouldn’t eat. I’m just letting you know that, based on the facts, I decided to stop eating meat. While this decision feels right, I’ll continue with it.
When you get more educated about meat (if you choose to), you’ll come up with your own conclusions. Whether you decide not to change a thing, stop eating it, cut it down or eat meat from sources you can trace, that decision is yours to make.
If you do want to know more, I recommend watching the documentary What the Health. That, I’m sure, will lead you to other documentaries and sources that will interest you.
DISPELLING A MEAT MYTH
One of the reasons I kept eating meat was the belief I would be physically weaker if I didn’t eat it. That is rubbish. Some of the most powerful animals in nature, including gorillas and elephants, are vegetarian. And if that doesn’t convince you, go to YouTube and type ‘Vegan Bodybuilder’.
And in regards to energy – one of the most energy-zapping things we do is digesting food. Red meats, in particular, are very hard to digest and take up a lot of our energy. How do you feel after you’ve eaten a big steak dinner compared to a light salad? You need energy to cope with anxiety and stress, so it’s worthwhile having a good think about your diet and how it might be making you feel. Is what you’re eating slowing you down and zapping your energy, or is it boosting it?
*PARTY POOPER ALERT!
If you don’t wish to be party-poopered (if there is such a term), end your read. Thank you for coming this far – see you in the next blog. If you don’t mind a little more lecturing, read on . . .
At the height of my high anxiety, I would happily consume a bottle of wine every evening. One glass would quickly (and way too easily) lead to the fourth.
It was an incredibly short-term solution to a long-term issue – which was only being fuelled more by the consumption of copious alcohol.
Yes – alcohol helped me relax and took my cares away for a few wee hours.
But no – alcohol didn’t help me sleep, and I felt like absolute shit the next day. I’d wake up most mornings feeling like a zombie with anxiety hitting me instantly.
Alcohol (ethanol) is poison – quite literally – hence the term: Alcohol Poisoning.
When you drink alcohol, you are poisoning your body.
This very true fact hasn’t stopped me from drinking the stuff. And why should it? The stuff is legal and easily obtainable.
I still enjoy a glass of red - but with one big difference – I do it in moderation.
And like most things in life, when you do it in moderation using your common sense, it should be absolutely fine.
Small steps lead onto big things.
And it’s true - you don’t need to jump in with both feet to get the result you want.
This said I’ve not always operated in this way.
We’ve all heard the stories of the Dad who throws his kid (the kid who can’t swim) straight into the deep end. The kid either swims or sinks.
This method makes the Dad an arsehole, but it also makes the kid a very fast learner.
I got to a stage in my life where I got tired of allowing anxiety, fear, or whatever you want to call it, a dominant force in my life.
Maybe you’re at this stage yourself right now?
Small steps towards change were no doubt helping me move towards where I wanted to be. But it was the big jolters – the throwing myself in the deep end when I couldn’t swim – that really did the trick.
When I had a lifelong fear of heights, I got in a small plane, flew 8000 feet and piloted it. When I was agoraphobic, I got on a plane and flew 5000 miles to Vegas. When I was a private person apprehensive about sharing my experience, I wrote a book and shared it with the world.
In these experiences, was I crapping my panties? Of course I was. Did they work out perfectly? Nope. Was every part of me telling me to turn back, with my thoughts convincing me that I didn’t have to do them? Yep.
These things weren’t life or death, so you could say I didn’t have to do them.
But I told myself that I had to.
I had to because I knew I had a choice.
Behind Door #1: Keep allowing anxiety (fear) to dictate my life and continue complaining about how bad my life is and how nothing changes.
Behind Door #2: Crap my pants, but do it anyway. Expand the comfort zone I’d got myself trapped in, and grow beyond the fear.
YOU HAVE THE SAME CHOICE
Nothing will be as bad as the fear you produce within yourself.
Most of this fear is an illusion.
In other words, those ‘what if’ thoughts that you produce are as bad as it will ever get.
Think of the times you were scared to do something, but you did it anyway. Maybe you were forced to do it because you had to? Was it unpleasant? If it meant you were growing, it’s likely it was.
Compare this to a time when you were scared to do something and avoided it. Maybe you’re still avoiding it? Where has it got you? Usually, it’s an emergency trip to the dentist in agony with an abscess that could have been avoided months ago (at a lot less cost).
Choosing door #2 will allow you to look at your fear(s) differently, whatever they may be.
- The bully boss will think twice about bullying you.
- Indecision and lack of direction won’t plague you.
- The pigeon who thinks they can take advantage of you will get a sharp lesson in dealing with an eagle.
And these are just a few everyday examples of the benefits of dealing with fear head-on, rather than using avoidance to hide. Think of the possibilities.
We all have the capability to face our fear and push through it.
So let me ask you this question: What are you afraid of?
By all means, keep taking those small steps towards where you want to be.
But if you want quicker results, and you’re scared of the sea, go and swim with the sharks.
The next time you get a worrying or anxious thought I want you to remember D.A.D.
‘What’s DAD got to do with anything?’, I hear you say.
Remember D.A.D is a simple but highly effective technique I’ve created to help you take control and deal with all your thoughts (anxious or not).
When you appreciate that it’s you creating all your thoughts, you can take more control of them. When you take control, you’ll deal with your anxiety and stress instantly.
Because we have about 60,000 thoughts a day, you can’t control all of them – that’s impossible. But you can manage them better, and remembering D.A.D will help.
Here’s how to use the D.A.D technique.
When you have the next worrying or anxious thought stop everything that you are doing.
Sit down (if you're not sitting already), and question that worrying thought immediately.
Don't allow it to spiral out of control, and don't dwell on it.
Don't try to understand it and think deeply about what it means.
Don’t allow the usual ‘what if’ type thoughts to spiral out of control.
Simply comprehend that you’ve had the thought and take control by picking one of the three D.A.D options to manage it.
Stats tell us that most of the thoughts we have are useless, which means you should be ditching most of them. If you decide that the thought is no good for you, and its only purpose is to cause you more worry and anxiety, decide to ditch it. Let it go. Give it a gentle nudge and tell it to move on. You have the power to do that - because you're in control.
If you decide that your thought requires immediate action, don't leave the spot until you take action. Anxiety and stress are caused by feeling out of control, and taking instant action puts you in control. That action doesn't need to fix whatever it is that induced the thought - it can be something small - like making a call, sending an email or having a chat with someone. By taking action, even if it's just a small step, you're putting yourself back in control.
If it is something that can wait, write it down and go back to it. I find the easiest way to do this is using Evernote (a free app that keeps you organised). Get the thought out of your head and put it onto paper (or text) and on to your to-do list. This will release the thought and stop it from bouncing around in your head. If you have an online calendar, like Google Calendar, you can set an alarm so you can go back to it. That way you're not ignoring it or pretending that it doesn't exist (like the bill you don't want to pay). Instead, you're dealing with it at a time that is better for you.
When you manage all your thoughts (worrying or otherwise) using these three options, you'll find you manage your anxiety and stress much more effectively.
Make remembering D.A.D a habit, and with time and practice, it will stick.
How easy is it, when somebody gets your back up, to immediately get angry and feel hateful towards her/him?
It’s an immediate natural reaction, so it’s really easy, right?
But what has harbouring anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety, stress (and any other negative emotions you can think of) ever done for you?
Nothing, except make you feel like crap.
When you allow somebody else to make you feel like crap, you’re only extending your mental pain and suffering by continuing to harbour the anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety and stress.
It’s time to let go of it – for your sake – not theirs.
If somebody does you wrong, I’m not necessarily saying you should forgive and forget. What I am saying is, for the sake of your own feelings and well-being, you should let go and move on. In other words, you should forgive but don’t forget.
If you don’t let go and move on, you’re only harbouring all those negative feelings that will continue to make you feel like crap. That means that you’re allowing whoever it is that has caused you pain to continue that pain.
You’ll be the one causing all your mental pain and suffering.
It might feel as though you have no control over these emotions at times, but anger, hate, resentment, jealousy, anxiety and stress are always a choice. I know this because these emotions always begin with a thought, and that thought is then manifested as a feeling.
You have control over what thoughts you choose to act on, and that means that you do have a choice whether or not you allow these emotions to dominate you.
How does that make you feel to know that you have a choice to feel these negative emotions, just as much as you have a choice to feel the good stuff like happiness, joy, love and contentment?
When I discovered this fact, it made me stop and think – and I’m hoping it’s doing the same for you.
By learning to let go and move on, I stopped harbouring all those negative emotions that were no good for me, which made me less frustrated, angry, anxious and stressed.
I still experience all these things – I just don’t allow them to dictate how I feel, including whether or not I’m going to have a good or bad day.
If somebody pisses me off, for example, I won’t allow the mental pain and suffering caused from that to define who I am.
People will act as they act. You have no control over that. You only have control over you – including how you choose to react and how you feel.
Dependent on the level of the suffering and pain you’ve experienced, some of you will find this harder to take on board than others – I appreciate that.
I’m not diluting the fact that anger, hate, resent, jealousy, anxiety and stress aren’t incredibly difficult to overcome. I know first-hand how difficult it is. But it still doesn’t take away from the crucial fact that these things are a choice.
When it comes to anger, hate, resent, jealousy, anxiety and stress, we prefer to look at these things as though we have no choice – like they are put on us. The biggest issue with this is we become a victim to them.
When you’re a victim of circumstance, you tell yourself that there is nothing you can do – so you continue to allow these negative emotions to dominate you. That will keep you trapped in a negative cycle, and you’ll always be a victim.
The next time you feel any of these emotions, remember that you have a choice.
To help you remember, I’ve listed the solutions as 3 A’s. These are the three things that will end your mental pain and suffering.
The first A to end your mental pain and suffering is acceptance. You could also call this A ‘Appreciation’. Like Carl Jung said: ‘What you resist persists.’ You’ll only feel the full force of something when you fight it. When you accept and appreciate something, including its reasoning and why it’s happening, it can no longer cause you further mental pain and suffering. Stop fighting whatever it is you’re fighting, and learn to let go. This doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. Letting go could mean walking away. Remember: forgive but don’t forget.
The second A to end your mental pain and suffering is attitude. An extended version of this is ‘attitude of gratitude’. It’s impossible for any negative emotion to overcome you when you are in a state of gratitude. For example, you can’t be anxious and grateful at the same time. Dock leaves grow next to stinging nettles because nature always wants to provide us with a solution. Gratitude is nature’s solution to all that is negative. Practice gratitude daily.
The third A to end your mental pain and suffering is affection. It’s probably the hardest ‘A’ of them all, but it’s also the most powerful. How can you show love or affection to somebody who might have physically or mentally abused you? How do you make friends with an emotion like anxiety and stress - emotions that might have destroyed your life for decades? How do you say ‘hello’ to somebody who has done you wrong? These are not easy questions to answer, but getting even close to the answer offers you a lot more mental freedom. Imagine the freedom behind being able to let go, move on and forgive what you hate. It’s an ‘A’ I’m still working on, so I’m pleased to be able to join you on this journey myself!
Would you let a plumber fix your boiler if they had no qualifications or experience? Not gonna happen!
If you’re not going to let somebody play around with your boiler, how do feel about your state of mind and well-being?
I recommend counselling to anybody going through a difficult period. Communicating what’s on your mind is a BIG contributor to you moving forward and getting better. It always will be. Bottling things inside and pretending things are OK only lead onto more issues, like breakdowns.
You’ve got to be able to talk, and that’s where a good counsellor comes into play.
A good counsellor will not only listen to you but also have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through your tough time.
Notice I say ‘a good counsellor’.
Like with all professions, there is good, bad, excellent, and downright shouldn’t be in that professional at all!
Like a plumber and most other professions you can think of, a counsellor could set up their own practice overnight – without any experience or qualifications. The fact that somebody calls himself a counsellor doesn’t make it so.
We can all call ourselves whatever we like – it doesn’t make it the case.
If you’re going to let a plumber loose on your boiler, you’ll want reassurance he knows what he’s doing. (A big reason why the best tradesmen come through recommendation.) If you’re going to let somebody loose on your state of mind and well-being, you should also look for reassurance that they know what they’re doing.
It’s up to you to find out what experience and qualifications a counsellor has. Don’t take it at face value.
When I was dealing with high anxiety, I met with at least four different counsellors. Some were good, and some were not so good.
In hindsight, I should have moved on from the bad ones sooner. But I didn’t. Why? I thought I was the problem. I thought, surely somebody with all that experience and all those qualifications can’t be that bad – it has to be me.
I have lots of respect for good counsellors, so I want to clarify what I mean by a ‘bad’ counsellor. Having now had the pleasure of meeting some great counsellors, I can compare them to the not so good ones.
Here are a few defining signs of a bad counsellor, including things to look out for.
Guilt trips. Lack of confidence. Wanting to please others.
Just a few of the reasons why we end up saying YES to doing favours, working overtime and doing things we don’t want to do – even when we know we should say NO.
You’re a nice person. Nothing wrong with that. But if you find yourself saying yes to everything you’re asked, it won’t be long before the misery kicks in.
You’ll be burnt out, depressed, skint and desperate before you know it!
Here are five things to start saying NO to more often. When you say NO to these things more often, you’ll find you’ll take back control and your life will be much more bearable.
1. Other people’s BS
People will bring you great joy. But if you let them, they’ll bring you a lot of shit too! It’s time to start saying no to their BS. If they want to bring their toxic behaviour and drama into your life, say ‘NO’. Cut it out without hesitation. Let them know that you will no longer suffer fools lightly. They’ll soon get the message, and your life will be much better off for it. The next time the gossip comes up, or somebody is chewing your ear off with negativity, cut it out.
2. Constant favours
As I mentioned - being a nice person is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do nice things. But it does put you at risk of being taken advantage of. If somebody calls you at 1 am in the morning asking you to give them a lift home from partying all night, it won’t be long before they’re calling you at 4 am. Everybody has to have boundaries, including you. The next time the call comes in, say ‘NO’. The same goes for any favours that go beyond being reasonable including giving away your two most valuable assets: your time and money.
3. Being in places you don’t want to be
Life is way too short to put up with doing things you don’t want to do, including going places you don’t want to go. I’m not talking about being ignorant or selfish. Sometimes we’ve got to do things we’re not happy with – it’s all part of having good relationships. But if you find yourself constantly being in places you don’t want to be, hanging around with people you don’t like, say ‘NO’.
4. Going to a dead-end job
If you work full-time, you’ll be spending most of your life at that job. If you absolutely hate your job with a passion, it basically means you hate your life. When it comes to work, including toxic bosses and dead-end jobs, there is always a better option. Say ‘NO’, and explore what your options are further. If you’re feeling stuck, The Less-Stress Lifestyle will help.
5. Living in the past
Living in the past is causing you serious, unnecessary stress and anxiety. I know this because when we live in the past, it’s usually because of negative reasons. If your childhood was messed up, you made a mistake, or you regret something you did, it’s time to let go of the past and say ‘NO’ to it. Move forward with the lessons you learnt, and don’t allow the past to haunt you. The trick here is to learn from the past because if you don’t, you’ll keep making the same mistakes you always have.
There’s nothing like sitting down and watching a decent film.
I like to take something away from every film I watch. I believe there is a message, hidden or otherwise, in all decent films.
If you haven’t switched the film off in the first few minutes because it’s rubbish, you’ll get something out of it. A lot of what you get depends on your mood, how you feel at the time, and what you’re looking for.
Here’s what I learnt from my top five films (in order of my favourite first).
#1 – The Matrix
What is there not to love about The Matrix? Putting aside all the Kung Fu and bullet dodging (which, don’t get me wrong, is brilliant), there is a serious message going on. For me, that message is quite simply: Wake the f*ck up! You are part of a system. If you allow that system to control you, it will. If you don’t take control of your life, you will drift. You will just survive, rather than thrive. To make changes in your life, you have to get educated and become aware. If you want improvements in your lifestyle, begin by getting educated. You can have more if you want it, but first, you have to wake up.
#2 – Terminator 2
I’ll also include the first Terminator film here. (Terminator 3 – not your best one, Arnie.) With the rise of AI (Artificial Intelligence), who knows – the machines may well take over one day. But that’s not the defining message I got from the film. The message I got is about dealing with toxic people. This is what Kyle Reese says when he’s warning Sarah Connor about the Terminator: ‘Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop.’ Some toxic people in life are the same, and you should avoid them just as much as you would the Terminator.
#3 – The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio does an amazing job of playing a hedonistic drug addict. His outstanding performance is equalled by how good the film is. Anyhow – I’m not writing a film review – so back to the message. The Wolf of Wall Street perfectly sums up the fact that money will only ever get you so far. It’s a short-term view to think you can do what the hell you like for a few years and not have any consequences. At the risk of sounding like a complete killjoy, most things in life are OK in moderation, but what you’re doing today is shaping your future. As well as thinking about what you’re going to do today, start planning for the next five years. Otherwise, the future might not be so bright.
#4 – Catch Me If You Can
Another Leonardo DiCaprio film on my list – and what a cracker it is. Frank Abagnale (the con man Leonardo plays) fooled everybody – to the point of becoming a fake co-pilot, lawyer and doctor – all before his 18th birthday! (This is a true story!) The message? For me, a positive one. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Do you think Frank cared about the fact he might get rejected? Do you think he allowed the fear of people to hold him back? Not in the slightest. Although a lot of what he did was immoral, there’s a lot to be learnt and admired from what he did. The level of freedom you can get from not caring about what people think is immense. It helps you achieve pretty much anything you want, as demonstrated perfectly by Frank Abagnale.
#5 – Drop Dead Fred
I grew up as a Rik Mayall (Bottom) addict. He made me cackle just as much in Drop Dead Fred when he played an imaginary childhood friend to a miserable kid. Part of her misery was her control freak, OCD led mother, who was affectionately known as ‘The Megabeast’. So the first lesson – if you’re a parent putting too much pressure on your kids, you might also have an interesting nickname. The second lesson from the film is not to let the kid in you die. Life is serious enough. Don’t ever forget your humour. It shouldn’t take an imaginary friend you had as a kid to come back into your adult life to remind you. You can start having more fun today. It is a choice, and you don’t have to wait. What would the kid inside you do? Sometimes it’s worth paying attention to him or her – especially when anxiety and stress is biting.
The best way to connect with Carl and join the discussion is on his Facebook page