For the three people who read my blog, you’ll know that I’ve been studying a “Mindfulness Practitioner” course, with a view to becoming a teacher in this respect to treat weight loss, anxiety, eating disorders etc. And let me tell you,
It’s not all stinky floor cushions and incense.
I’m not even half way through and I’ve spent at least 700 minutes of video lectures (at least that to go), 12 hours of workbooks and at least that on self-reflection (which the course requires; practice what you preach etc.) I’ve done another few hours this morning and found myself just itching to share this mind-blower.
How to actually change, 1-0-1
This can be applied to anything, be it losing weight (ahem, me), making more money (god yes), changing careers (me again), finding peace in life (yep, me), having less stress/anxiety/depression (…..). These are our future selves, i.e. how we see ourselves achieving contentment.
Now-self vs. Future-self?
Inner Dialogue: “Am I happy?”
Inner Dialogue: “Am I fulfilled?”
Inner Dialogue: “Am I content?”
Me: “Hmm, not sure.”
If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No‘ or ‘Errrm’ or ‘Not sure’, then it’s highly likely we are comparing and falling short of the ideal vision of our ‘Future self’ – what we want in life, what drives us. We are so focused on this vision that we are not using our peripherals to see what we have right this second.
Are you over-focusing, to the detriment of other things? If you’re not sure what over-focusing is, here’s a physical example you can do right now.
- Grab an object in front of you, can be a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, a mug, a pen, a cat, your partners nipple. Whatever.
- Hold it at arms length (okay, the cat and the nipple might not be co-operative here)
- Stare at it intensely. There is nothing else in the world to look at except this. Focus on it. Focus hard.
- Now, with the same intense focus, very slowly move this thing towards you. There is nothing else in the world to look at except this. Keep focusing hard. Even if it means you go cross-eyed. There is nothing else except this.
- When it’s almost touching your nose, take some time to be aware of how you’re feeling. Your eyes might feel strained, your temples might hurt, you’re definitely cross-eyed. Spend a small amount of time with this focus. You’ll notice that you’re so focused on this thing that everything else in the room has phased out. You can’t see anything else clearly. And it hurts, to focus on this one thing.
6. With the object still at your nose, now relax your eyes and stop focusing on it. You now become aware again of everything else in the room. The walls, the door, the cat, your computer. There might even be TWO of the object in front of you.
To apply this to an example:
Let’s take a Dad. Not saying this is a conventional family at all, but it’s what I know: A couple gets married and has kids. Dad works full time to provide for the family. What drives him is to work hard and earn money. To provide for his family and make a happy home for his wife and kids. To retire with his wife and have a happy and restful retirement.
Let’s say this Dad over-focused on his end-game. What might he miss?
What if, just before he was due to retire, his Wife died? would he have any regrets? is he likely to be in crisis?
Before changing, it is vital that we
- Understand and appreciate what we have right this second and
- Understand and appreciate what drives us
The ‘Fifth Season’ of life: TRANSITION
Think of transition as preparation. If we are frustrated (i.e. not happy, content or fulfilled) that we are not becoming our richer/thinner/happier future selves, it’s probably because, well, we haven’t actually done anything. Likely because of;
As I talk about in my book actually, no change will happen if we don’t first prepare for it, and then DO something. But even before that, if we don’t address our inner dialogue it’s never going to happen. This is where mindfulness can help.
Transition is best explained by using the four seasons in a year. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. When summer is approaching, we might prepare for it: we book vacation, we dig out the bikini (ha ha, no), we clean off the deck and garden furniture. We put away our sweaters and winter coats.
When winter is approaching, we might do this in reverse.
If we didn’t transition into winter, we’d still be wearing our summer bikinis and wearing flip-flops on the deck while watching our parasol blow away with Dorothy. So why wouldn’t we transition (prepare) to change ourselves?
Assess, Address and Re-Assess
“All of life is lived on levels and arrived at in stages.”
— Edwin Louis Cole
The last bit, honestly.
It’s not going to be healthy if you prepare to transition towards a vision of yourself if it’s not true to who you are. If my vision was to be the number one top model at the number one modelling agency, then it’s highly likely I’m going to be unhappy. I’m too short, for starters.
- Spend a good amount of time knowing what your values are. These values will help you decide on the vision that will make YOU happy, contented and fulfilled.
- Write out a plan, with stages. And then execute it.
- At each stage, re-affirm your values and your plan. If you need to change it, do that.
This is what a Life Coach can do for you. Using varying techniques can help you assess your values, make a plan and re-assess at each stage.
This, the shortest section, is probably where all the hard work is. It’s important while we’re changing that we have a wider perspective about what we have, right this second.
Conclusion and Further Reading
So, this is only part of what I’m learning to become. I hope you found it interesting.
If you’re REALLY interested, here’s a free workbook you can print, assess your values and get your plan going. The questions start on page 4, and never end 🙂
p.s. I’ve put YOU in caps a lot, because realising your values now are actually someone else’s idea of you, and not your own, is quite an epiphany. Do this for YOU, and not what someone else might expect of you.
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