We live in a fast-moving society with world news at our finger tips, literally, now on mobile phones and tablets, with friends telling us of their activities incessantly on Facebook and work expecting you to be available 24/7.
Then there is the exercise regime, the kids to collect from school or the childminder… this is life in the fast lane and it is fuelled with impatience and anxiety – emotions that are not healthy in our body.
I had a friend who was pushing herself so hard that at the age of 39 she had a heart attack on the treadmill. She had it all: the big house, three children, a loving partner, highly paid job, fit body, but her mind and body were exhausted. Sadly, this was a shocking lesson that forced her to look carefully at her life. There was a lot of doing but very little being.
Commuter trains are packed full of people on the ‘life treadmill’ and it is so hard to get off or slow it down. Our society values possessions highly, as well as instant communication, and these ‘masters’ put massive pressures on each and every one of us to be human doings. When we conduct our lives from a place of being, we are living with our reasoning mind and walking into schemes, strategies, uncertainty and fear. Achievements will result but somehow, they soon feel hollow or create disappointment.
When we navigate our lives using our human spirit we tap into the higher levels of love and intention creating feelings of excitement, happiness or hopefulness; these emotions are the essence of a human being and we all can make this choice.
One way to achieve this is to practice acceptance in all aspects of your life. Accepting that you are an amazing being is a great start. When I taught Biology in a large comprehensive school, I used to tell the students exactly that, then we would explore how the body and mind works in the most amazing way. We would study the plant kingdom and wonder at the processes of photosynthesis and respiration, and how plants and animals were so interdependent. My students did experiments to discover these wonders, which led to acceptance and appreciation of themselves and the amazing world around them.
When you want things to be a certain way and expect your needs to be met, you can become attached to outcomes. When your attachment to things becomes too strong, you open yourself to physical and psychological distress. Too much pressure on the concepts you have about how things should look, feel or sound, can create an energetic war within you. Many of my clients come to realise that they have become human ‘doings’ and find it can be helpful to go with the flow knowingly and release what you can’t control.
This is a great life lesson and you should practice both self-acceptance and self-awareness to learn and use these two essential life skills wisely.
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of your own character and feelings. Most of us can notice how we are feeling and often relate it to a set of circumstances, diet or thoughts and the key learning is what you resolve to do about it. This is where your level of control is important. If you can control a situation you can manage it. For instance, if you feel nauseous every time you smell a lily, don’t choose to smell lilies the next time you’re in a florist! If you enter a room full of lilies – excuse yourself, make your apologies and exit quickly! For years, I had an allergy to cats and some dogs. If I knew such animals were to be present in a home, I would take medication which I knew worked well and I was then in control of the situation and didn’t have to disappoint anyone or make them feel bad.
Some people just accept they suffer from headaches, stomach upsets, allergies or panic attacks, without questioning what their body is telling them. Such symptoms are a message from your body that you need to review the situation.
Three questions to ask yourself would be:
- What is this headache/stomach ache/back ache about?
- What is currently upsetting me?
- What, if anything, can I do about it?
And the action is… take responsibility and do it!
About the author
Ann McCracken is a scientist, psychotherapist, author and trainer in stress, wellbeing and resilience. She has decades of experience working with organisations and individuals and she is the former Vice President of the International Stress Management Association. Stress is her specialist subject! Ann’s first book, The Stress Gremlins – is a practical self-help book with exercises and ideas to support good mental health.
This new book – How To Get Back Your Mojo – takes the Gremlin concept even further; as a unique way of providing an explanation about how we react to situations and helps individuals to recognise their reactions and inform their behaviour.