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ease-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

How to live with greater ease

I live about 500 metres up a VERY steep hill, at the start of which is a sharp bend in the single-track road. This morning, as I was driving home, I started up the hill and thought to myself: “Ah, here’s that bend I hate! I’d better turn the steering wheel the right amount or I’ll hit the wall!!!”. The minute that thought came to me, I had to act quickly so I didn’t hit the wall.

You see, that thought itself almost caused me to hit the wall.

Over-thinking almost caused me to hit the wall.

Usually, I drive up the road with no problem. I don’t love that bend, but my instincts make sure I take it correctly. My instincts know exactly how much I have to turn the steering wheel to make that bend.

As it is in this story, so it is in life.

Over-thinking is a curse that plagues many of us.

Until recently, I was a habitual over-thinker. If there was a way I could over-think and over-complicate things, I would. It wasn’t intentional. It was a habit I learned very young from my father, who was a life-long over-thinker.

Most people believe all thinking is good and that there’s no such thing as over-thinking.

I hold a very different opinion. I believe that there’s a time and a place for thinking, that only certain, very specific tasks are suited to thinking. And I believe that the rest are suited to instinct.

Take driving. When I was learning to drive, I used my mind – thinking – to learn how a car works and the rules of the road. Now that I know these things, it’s my instincts that keep me safe. By staying fully present when I drive, I’m alert to everything that arises. If, however, I fail to stay present whilst I’m driving and start thinking – about how to stay safe or anything else at all – I put myself and others at risk. Driving is not a task for which our minds are suited.

Our minds are amazing at analysing, storing and retrieving information.

Our instincts are amazing at reading, seeing, hearing, sensing and feeling information.

When I was an over-thinker, my mind was mostly in control. It would do all my work and make all my decisions for me. It NEVER assigned any tasks to my instincts, because the mind ALWAYS thinks it knows best. So, I ended up doing a lot of bad work and making a lot of bad decisions.

These days, my instincts are mostly in control. They are very generous and share out tasks according to competence. My instincts give my mind ALL tasks that involve information analysis, storage and retrieval. And keep the rest for themselves. Since I’ve been operating this way, my life has been going much more smoothly. I still do make mistakes, of course, but less often, and I recover from them more quickly.

I made the change from mind to instincts by learning to stay present. The present is the place from which all correct actions and thoughts take place. Here’s how I learned to stay present and stop over-thinking:

  • Meditation. I’ve been meditating for at least 30-60 minutes a day for some years, and on-and-off before then. It’s my best tool for learning presence… and for staying present. I highly recommend you look into it for yourself.
  • Acceptance. Accepting things EXACTLY as they are is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. Acceptance means not fighting or denying the existence of a reality we don’t like. For example, I don’t like that I have ulcerative colitis, but I accept that I do. Acceptance allows me to take action around it, it allows me to be highly functional with what is for many a debilitating disease.
  • Letting go. Of the past. Of decisions taken. Of actions taken. Of your baggage. Of your views on how your life is supposed to have been. Of your Inner Critics’ views on all of this. Letting go doesn’t mean that you agree with or approve of difficult situations or people. It just means that you are letting go of the control ALL of this has over you. It is not an angry notion. I like to think of letting go as releasing something / someone into a flow of love, and respectfully keeping your distance.
  • Deep focus on the matter at hand. I devote myself fully to whatever it is I’m doing. I remove all distractions and make sure I give myself regular breaks to refresh myself. For me, this means moving around – I love the Move app, which gives me exercises to do!

Take action to end your curse of over-thinking today. You won’t regret it.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

self-esteem-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

The surprising truth about self-confidence

And how to regain yours in 10 steps

The more I talk to my friends and clients, the more I realize a sad truth.

That most of us often lack self-confidence.

Yet, if you ask people if they lack self-confidence, especially strong, accomplished people, they’ll probably answer no. Not because they’re in denial about it. But because they can’t see it.

You don’t often see that you’ve lost your self-confidence, as this loss manifests as something else. You see that you’re overwhelmed, that you’re stuck, that you’re a bit lost. You don’t realise that these are just symptoms. And that the problem behind them is a loss of self-confidence.

Lack of self-confidence is at the root of all feelings of being overwhelmed and stuck.

If you are full of self-confidence, you know what you can and can’t handle. You do what you can yourself, and hand off the rest to someone else. There’s no loss of face, you’re just being efficient.

If, however, you lack self-confidence, what you can’t handle overshadows everything, and it’s this that causes overwhelm. When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t see a way forward, so you get stuck. Being stuck for any length of time affects how you view yourself. You start to feel that you’re good for nothing, and this makes you feel even more overwhelmed, even more stuck.

When you reach this place, your self-esteem takes a beating. People often use self-confidence and self-esteem interchangeably, but, for me, there’s an important distinction between the two.

Self-confidence is your outer layer of self-reliance. Self-esteem, on the other hand, is your internal sense of worth.

When you can’t keep up your external self-confidence, external things can start to fall apart – you miss deadlines, you let people down, you limit your activities. But, when you don’t feel your internal worth any more, when you have no self-esteem, YOU start to fall apart.

Self-confidence is the cornerstone of self-esteem. That’s why it’s so important to deal with the self-confidence crisis whenever it strikes.

What can you do?

Here are 10 steps to help you start regaining your self-confidence.

  1. The minute you feel overwhelmed, stop. Don’t make any important decisions. Don’t take on any more change. (I wrote this post about overwhelm.)
  2. Dig deep into your feelings of overwhelm. When did they start? What triggered them?
  3. Dig deep into what triggered them. Was your behaviour behind it? Was someone else’s reaction to you behind it?
  4. Accept what happened (the trigger). This doesn’t mean you have to be happy about what happened. You just have to accept that it did actually happen. And then you have to acknowledge any feelings that you may have about it, and allow yourself to express them, when you are somewhere safe and secure. That may involve punching pillows, if one of your feelings is anger. Or crying until you have no more tears, if one of your feelings is grief or sadness. Fully expressed feelings dissipate. Unexpressed feelings get stronger and stronger, until one day, they erupt uncontrollably.
  5. Let the trigger incident go. Like acceptance, letting go is an important behaviour to understand and adopt. And, like acceptance, it’s a hard behaviour to understand and adopt! Letting go of something or someone doesn’t mean that you are OK with the situation or person. It just means that you are letting go of the control ALL of this has over you. It’s not an angry notion. I like to think of letting go as releasing something/someone into a flow of love, and respectfully keeping your distance. Practice really does make perfect, and it’s well worth the effort.
  6. Know exactly what you have to get done. Make a detailed list of everything that was causing you to feel overwhelmed. This is your TO DO list.
  7. Prioritise what you have to do. Review all items on your TO DO list, and prioritize them according to their importance. I like to have three categories: Must Do, Maybe Do and Nice To Do.
  8. Do your Must Dos every day. You should start to notice you feel better about yourself after successfully ticking off these for a few days.
  9. Add your Maybe Dos to your weekly routine. Do this whenever you’re feeling in a good place, with some energy to spare.
  10. Add your Nice To Dos to your monthly routine. By the time you have the energy to get to these, your self-confidence and self-esteem will be much healthier.

The sense of self-reliance that goes with self-confidence is essential to our ability to function, day in, day out. The sense of self-worth that goes with self-esteem is essential to our happiness.

Let’s make nurturing these in ourselves our top priority! Because without them, we are no good to ourselves or others.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).