Every now and then life helps us to step back from routine and review things. I had such help a few weeks ago when I picked up a stomach bug that pretty much emptied my entire system out at every level for several days. It totally wiped me out and as a result, gave me the opportunity to have to ‘do’ nothing at all.
Times like these really do help us to review and re-set. In my review, I recognised that I was being given the opportunity to notice where and how I spend my time and energy, and that I had slipped into using it in a way that wasn’t fully aligned with who I want to be and the work I want to do, in the way I want to do it. It came to my awareness that a few tweaks were needed in this department.
I have had a busy 6 months with work, my book, and another coaching course I have been doing, as well as starting to dip my toes into the online dating world…which I have to say, I have found needs discipline so as not to slip down the rabbit hole of time-wasting. Anyway…that’s another story, but for now let’s stick to the relevance of how I use my time and energy in the best way that I can.
I know the importance of looking after my wellbeing and internal state of being. I have to admit that with one thing and another I have slipped into the habit of meditating a bit less, drinking a few more glasses of wine, eating a bit more erratically, and choosing to engage in conversations with a few people that were on a continual victim mindset loop, which I should know better than to have. Anyway…..the long and the short of it is that it was a wake-up call that I have not been disciplined enough in taking care of my own wellbeing and internal state…. and as I have a busy 6 months ahead with the launch of my book I had better get that straight!
I had become lazy in how I had been managing my own internal state when it was not at ease. It’s given me a fresh reminder of the importance of how we choose to process tricky thoughts and emotions. It is normal for us, as human beings, to experience a whole range of thoughts, feelings and emotions and these will be triggered in different ways depending on the life experiences we have had and the tools we have had available for dealing with those experiences. What we do with these arising thoughts and emotions will determine the life we experience.
Meditation has, for me, been an absolute game-changer in the way I process my own human thoughts, feelings and emotions. It allows me to maintain a steadiness and a peace, even when the surface ripples are not that way. Dipping my toes back into the dating game for the first time since splitting up with my husband has inevitably stirred a few emotions and dug up a few seemingly not quite healed wounds. I have taken two different approaches when this has happened. Sometimes, I have sat and meditated and have found that those stirred emotions have moved through and further healing has occurred. On other occasions, I haven’t meditated and have had a glass of wine instead, which has spiralled the thoughts and emotions towards fear and created a total loss of perspective and irrational reactivity on my part. What fantastic contrast, and has once again highlighted the importance of the choice we make when we face uncomfortable or challenging thoughts and emotions. This recent experience has reignited my passion for not only better managing my own internal state, but also in helping others to manage theirs.
How do we manage our internal state?
Well, firstly we need to take the time to sit with it to notice it. We need to resist the temptation to avoid it by distracting or numbing ourselves from it.
When we sit with our internal state in an attempt to notice it, we can look for things like…
Do we feel restless, and if so why?
Do we feel at ease, or is there a lack of ease, and if so why?
Do we feel able to be present where we are, doing what we are doing? If not, why not? Where is our focus going to if it isn’t where we want it to be?
Do we feel physically at ease and comfortable? And if not, what could bring ease and comfort?
How are our energy levels; in terms of whether we have the energy to be engaged in our day, or do we feel tired?
Do we feel patient or impatient?
Are we aware of whether we are being open and kind to those around us, and to ourselves?
Questions like this can help to bring awareness of our internal state, and invite deeper enquiry if needed.
How can we shift our internal state if it isn’t how we want it?
The short answer is….Breathe! Breath awareness practices directly influence the nervous system, calming down the over-reactive freeze, fight or flight response. It helps to bring back perspective. That old saying, ‘calm down, take a deep breath’ has merit.
Look at how you are choosing to navigate your challenging thoughts and emotions. Are you choosing a helpful or unhelpful method? I know that meditation is my helpful method, wine is not.
If you haven’t got the tools you need then maybe it’s time you worked with a coach or therapist to help you to get them. If you don’t have the tools to manage your challenging thoughts or emotions you won’t be able to shift your internal state.
Why manage the internal state?
We are continually affecting and creating our outer reality – whether we realise it or not.
Our internal state affects every thought, word, choice and action we take. It determines whether we are patient or impatient, kind or unkind, generous or ungenerous. It’s the difference between inspired creativity and limited thinking when faced with a challenge.
It influences the way we speak to our loved ones, friends, work colleagues, and every encounter we have, however brief. Our internal state affects our level of self-awareness, and the awareness of the ripples we create in our lives and in the lives of those around us.
It is totally normal for our internal state to fluctuate, and for those that haven’t got the tools to navigate challenging thoughts and emotions, the internal state is often completely out of control. Developing more self-awareness enables us to notice subtle shifts in our internal state. Having the right tools to navigate challenging thoughts, feelings and emotions helps us to maintain a peaceful, resourceful internal state. That has to be a good thing for us all.
My note to self….a renewed commitment to manage my internal state and to look after my wellbeing because… It completely underpins the quality of the work that I do and the way that I do it. It reduces the negative ripples I have on those around me when I get over-reactive. It stops me needing to spend 3 days on the loo throwing up 😉