11/04/2020 Preparing for the long haul

Good morning, it’s Saturday, the sun is shining Radcliffe and Maconie ( Weekend breakfast radio presenters on BBC 6 Music) are on the radio, today is starting to feel like a good day. Now there is a lot wrong with the day, which I won’t go into as it is a bit obvious, and we don’t need reminding. Now I am feeling better I am beginning to wonder how I am going to keep this up for the next month, and then how am I going to adjust to whatever we will face in the coming months.

If you have been a regular reader of my blogs most of this will feel familiar, as I have talked about how I have learned to live with my emotions and not try to deny them. Over the past 3 weeks this has been sorely tested and I know the coming months will be difficult too. With that in mind the hardest thing to deal with is the uncertainty of what we are facing.

I am finding the most important, most helpful behaviour I am adopting is simply going with the flow. I say simply, but to be honest, it may be simple to say, but it is brick hard to do. Going with the flow takes a lot of practice.

So what is going with the flow? For me it is accepting all of the emotions we experience, without exception, and knowing all emotions are fluid and if allowed to be heard and recognised will flow over you. Let me try to explain what I mean.

This morning right now I am sat with my laptop on my lap (as it was designed to be) writing my blog, drinking coffee listening to Lithium by Nirvana on the radio. I feel happy and contented. The music reminds me of happy times in Spiders Nightclub when I was younger, I love writing this blog, and I enjoy drinking coffee. All is good my emotions are positive, so it is easy for me to experience them and allow them to be. Some of us struggle with positive emotion and go into “too good to be true” mode and deny ourselves the positive emotion by looking for a catch or worrying about a catastrophe. Whenever I go abroad on holiday I always have a moment imagining the plane crashing into a side of a mountain, I then imagine getting to our destination and being told that there had been a terrible mistake and there would be nowhere for us to stay. You get the drift. We can often hijack our positive emotion by using our intuition. I know practice being in the moment when something good is happening, like right now. I practice noticing the physical sensation created by the emotion. I practice using my senses, what I am hearing right now, what I am feeling, what I am tasting, what I am smelling, and what I am seeing. I practice enjoying the moment for what it is.

I don’t know about you, but I have been conditioned from a young age to avoid pain, sadness and anger. I have always been taught that these sensations an emotions are negative, and we should always seek out positive emotions to counter these. Now pain, sadness and anger are not pleasant experiences, but they are essential and an inevitable part of life. Over the past few weeks I have experienced all of them in abundance. Now I have experienced a degree of physical pain because I have been ill, when it got too much I took paracetamol. But the pain was useful it let me know what parts of my body were effected and encouraged me to rest. Most pain no matter how unpleasant is a useful physiological response to a noxious stimuli. Emotions such as sadness, fear, anxiety, frustration, anger etc. in most circumstances (there are circumstances such as mental illness, and some neurological conditions that are not useful and will need attention of a health professional) are also useful and are a consequence of what is happening to you. Denying them or avoiding them will just prolong them and often make them bigger. It is so important to allow them to happen, accept them and understand them. I have learned to ask myself some questions about my emotions, thanks to reading Brene Brown’s and Paul McGee’s work.

I will ask myself:

What is happening to me right now?

What has caused me to feel like this?

What part did I play in this?

What could I learn from this?

What can I change?

What is beyond my control?

It will not make the emotion go away, but it allows me to understand the emotion and learn from it. It encourages me to create space in my mind for unpleasant emotions. Life is really difficult as well as being incredibly wonderful, therefore to fully appreciate life it is important to provide equal space for the good and bad. The only important aspect of life is life itself. We have to learn to live it rather than worry about it.

I found when I practice this, I can accept uncertainty far more. I able to resist the urge to attempt to predict the future, therefore the uncertainty of life at the moment worries me less. When I do start to be overwhelmed I can bring myself into the moment, and appreciate the life I am living now. After all the life we are living now is the only thing that is real.

Stay safe, be in the moment and have a good day.

Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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