2016 has proven to be one of those years often summed up as ‘interesting’. It has certainly had far more plot twists and turns than what many of us would’ve anticipated and not all of them have been seen as good. While we don’t want to vastly generalise this year as having been awful, it has been a year that will certainly be looked back upon as having its own unique challenges and certainly full of ‘change’.
Over the weekend, a friend of mine told me that, in Numerology, 2016 is a 9 year, which is a year of endings. I said that I felt this was appropriate as I felt it was a year of change and you can’t have change without having endings. By the very nature of change, one thing must end (either good or bad) in order for something new to begin. We may lose a loved one. We may be fired from or decide to leave a dream or nightmare job. Friendships may come to a close or you might’ve ended up meeting someone who will go on to play an important part in your life. We may have started a new business or you may have decided it was time for a sea change. Change relies upon something coming to an end in order for something new to takes its place.
But what is it about change that makes it so hard for us to deal with?
Some people are able to go with change fairly easily, often accepting that some things are either outside of our control or that we’ve done our best in the situation that we’ve been handed. Others will continue to struggle against that change though and, as a result, experience prolonged anxiety, stress and suffering as a result.
There is one thing that we have to acknowledge though; ‘we can’t NOT change’. It is impossible to stay the same. Are you the same person now that you were 10 years ago? Of course not! You may have a similar personality and traits and you might even be fortunate enough to look just as young but you also have experience and growth and changing circumstances that will have brought out a whole lot of others things about you that has changed you into who you are now. And that is going to continue to happen as your life goes on, offering you a whole range of experiences that you might perceive as good or bad, and which will continue to define who you are. In fact, we define ourselves as much from the low points we experience in life as we do from the up points and it is often because we experience those moments that make us question why we do what we do or if we belong where we thought we did.
We are creatures of habit. We rely upon that routine to provide our lives with stability and focus. We are also humans who often self-doubt and who may have the tendency to focus on things turning out terribly if we were to make a move. How many people do you know who are stuck in a job that they actually hate but they stay there because they fear that they could move to something as bad or worse? It is this in-built survival mechanism that keeps us tied in with routine so that we can predict what is going to happen next and that provides us with comfort; even, strangely, when they are things that are causing us pain.
2016 has thrown all that into a spin. We’re in a world that is, for some, too far out of alignment with their own personal values and beliefs, and too big for them to be able to change themselves. Consider the many Americans who are horrified that Trump is the President Elect, or the British public who voted against Brexit. They’re forced into a world that is so far removed from what they want and yet, they have to continue to exist within it. It is a prospect that is daunting, overwhelming and likely to be causing them stress and anxiety about their future.
When Trump was elected President, I commented on my Facebook that, while I wasn’t holding my breath in anticipating, let’s hope that his victory will be looked back upon with hindsight as being a moment where things happened for a reason and turned out better than what we were all expecting. It may be hard to believe right now and I might be trying to be blindly optimistic, however sometimes we do need to accept that some things are out of our control and all we can do is be in control of how we choose to react to the situation.
When change is forced upon you and outside of your own control, it has the potential to be extremely painful and uncomfortable to experience.
So what can you do to help make these inevitable experiences less disruptive on your life?
Practising mindfulness is a way to help train your mind around what it should have as a distraction.
Consider this; is sitting there painfully playing through countless scenarios of how this horrible change can impact your life going to benefit you in any way? You could argue that it allows you to ‘consider your options’, which is true however if you find that it is also causing you to feel stress, anxiety, depression, and prevent you from doing some of the things you would’ve done before, then it is also having a massive impact on your life.
Practising mindfulness isn’t necessarily about lessening the pain or discomfort that these situations may provoke in ourselves. If I was to hold a gun to your head and say ‘don’t panic’, you wouldn’t be very successful at that either now, would you? But what it does do is allow us to observe our thinking and our thoughts, to determine what is going to take our attention. Right here, right now, in this moment, we are breathing, we’re alive and we’re all right. We can recognise those uncomfortable feelings for what they are but we can also choose to respond in a way that is aligned with our values and beliefs and the kind of person we truly want to be. We can press that pause button for a moment and, instead of reacting, we can respond in a way that feels authentically us.
We need to understand that we are all trying the best we can with what skills we have. We’re not perfect. We’re not going to get everything right. Life will throw at you a whole lot of stuff and some of it is going to have those days where you just don’t get it right – and that is ok. That is part of the learning. We don’t learn from our success; we learn from all the attempts we had along the way. When we become accountable for who we are, we are then being able to take responsibility for our own behaviours and actions and we can improve them over time to be more authentic and genuine. In return, life will become more meaningful and rich for you, even in those dark and horrid moments.
It also means that we give ourselves permission to being ok with not being ok occasionally. We don’t want to fall apart every time we experience something that doesn’t go our way (how is that being the kind of person you want to be?) however it does mean that we accept that we are human, that we have flaws and limitations and that some days, we just want to feel what we need to feel, work our way through it and then pick ourselves up and continue on.
Yes, life can be hard and painful. It can be for so many people. Yet we have so much that we can be grateful for. Often when we have lost someone through a terminal illness, we can often appreciate what we have with an immense gratitude. Often some of the problems that we feel are making our life horrible will shrink in comparison and we can begin to appreciate that while life might be challenging now, it isn’t always going to be this way and that there are going to be a whole range of days ahead of us. When we are grateful for the life that we have, we begin to realise that we can play a part in shaping what kind of life we want to live, what kind of person we want to be, what kind of things we want to do that are going to be meaningful and that are going to make a difference. Take control, give thanks for the people around you that love you and support you, and show them how you can shine a light even when things get hard.
Things turn out better than expected
We often have this negative expectancy that things are going to turn out the absolute worst. We allow our imaginations to go wild and we catastrophise so that we can often feel like the world is truly coming to an end. We mind read others, who are naturally talking about us (of course) and we jump to conclusions. We have a whole range of cognitive mental distortions all setting out to walk in partnership with your imagination to make sure you see your future as being really hard, really painful, really difficult and full of sorrow.
But is it really like that?
How often have we considered the worst only to find out that things turned out far better than expected?
This isn’t ‘kidding yourself’, or ‘being optimistic’; this is about acknowledging that our mind will often play tricks on us, fool us into thinking things are awful and then allow us to feel all the stress, anxiety and pain that comes with that.
When we begin to consider that the things that keep us up at night are still only in our heads and not really happening yet, and that things can turn out much better than expected, we can start to let go of those negative thoughts and turn our mind towards something more useful, optimistic and powerful.
What’s the best way to do this?
There is so much free information online regarding mindfulness that you could easily turn on this new behaviour immediately and gain results. I personally recommend the free offering at Headspace where you can use their 10 minutes by 10 days program to begin your experience with mindfulness.
Of course, hypnotherapy is also an excellent way to work with those negative thoughts, building positive expectancy, unique strategies with the resources that you already feel comfortable working with and making the best use of each day that you have been given.
For more information on how to make 2017 the best year yet, why not give Lawrence a call on 0403 821 807, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the website at www.releasehypnosis.com.au. Release Hypnosis is also currently running it’s Positive Change campaign throughout December.
And for a good laugh and a great release, enjoy this tribute from John Oliver to a truly awful year. (Language Warning for that video!)