Brene Brown says it best when she tells us that we can’t selectively numb. If you numb your difficult emotions you are also numbing your joy and gratitude. So often we don’t even realize that we are numbing. Those habits that help you ‘switch off’ from life’s pressures are often what’s numbing us.
When I became comfortably numb
When I was 26 I started living by myself for the first time, having always shared my abode with many people. I loved my home and painted it beautiful colours. But I felt extreme unease at being alone. I went out as much as I could, but I couldn’t go out every night. When I stayed in I turned on music and the tv to distract me. Solitude felt like loneliness and loneliness ached. Soon enough I started smoking joints in the evening, which I hadn’t been at all interested in before then. I’d roll up before the anguish set in. Inhale, ‘take the edge off’, and think ‘oh look even the adverts are interesting now’. It got the hook in me and became my avoidance technique of choice for a couple of years. It didn’t make me feel better. My mind felt groggy. I didn’t feel in control of my habit, it seemed to control me.
Ignoring something doesn’t change it; instead there is an increased sense of discomfort or pain.
Eventually I realized that the crutch that helped me to adjust to living alone, was actually preventing me from really enjoying my home and my life. So I threw the crutch away and faced the silence. The very thing that I was then avoiding – spending quiet alone time, connecting to my feelings and thinking deeply about my life – is actually something that now nourishes me immensely. Facing whatever you are avoiding can be a powerful up-leveler and can take you to places far greater than you can even imagine.
You’re numbing techniques might be so normal to you that you don’t even recognize them as an avoidance of anything. You know when you come home and pour yourself a big glass of wine – but you do that automatically most nights.
Or out of habit you pick up your phone to scroll through Facebook several times a day. Of course doing these things at times is no real harm – but our lives are meant to be ‘switched on’ and engaged so we are living a quality existence. It is always worth asking yourself if there are difficult emotion such as loneliness, or a dream for a bigger life that you don’t think is possible.
Maybe you’ve just been pushing too hard and are oscillating from stress to switch off. I’d recommend you check out my vlog Avoid burnout – flow with the low for guidance on getting back in balance.
Let’s address the smaller numbing habits. So what step can you take today to become more ‘switched on’ instead of ‘switched off’? Being engaged and present enhances the quality of any experience.
You could phone a friend instead of having a Whatsapp exchange? Real connection is invaluable.
Cook something from fresh ingredients instead of throwing something convenient in the oven.
Read or research something that inspires you?
Your shift might be limiting your social media time to particular slots in the day instead of them infiltrating every quiet moment.
What if you sense there is a bigger avoidance going on? The bigger the avoidance, the bigger the growth opportunity!! If want to proactively up-level is it time to work with a mentor to help facilitate meaningful change? What change would you love and what sort of mentor or teacher can help you get there?
I love to support people to move from self doubt to listening to their heart and what its calling them to do, feeling supported, confident and taking actions that inspire them. You can book a complimentary ‘discovery session’ with me here today to start the empowering journey. You’ll know after one session if it feels right for us to work together more.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. If you have slipped in to ‘comfortably numb’ then one decision and one action can switch you on and turn it all around. Enjoy!
We live in a busy world and out busyness can seem like real drudgery sometimes. When life is dominated by ticking off as many mundane chores as you can from your checklist, then life has lost its spark. Enough is enough; it’s summertime and it’s time to have fun! I’m not going to tell you about some fancy pants task manager, instead here are my top three suggestions to shake up life’s incessant to do list.
1. Outsource what you do not enjoy. It’s common to think that we should complete as many of the tasks in our life ourselves as we can – because they are things we are able to do. Actually though for productivity and enjoyment, your time is best spent on the things you are good at and enjoy doing. Don’t let mundane chores steal all your precious time. What are the things in your week that hang over you, take up too much time, that you don’t relish?
There are endless possibilities for outsourcing, from personal clothes shoppers, cleaners, companies that deliver ingredients and recipes or home-cooked meals, accountants (maybe you can do your tax return yourself but do you really want to!), VAs (virtual assistants), a personal trainers etc. Employ others to do their thing, and give yourself more time for what matters to you. This is part of orchestrating a better work-life balance.
2. Prioritise playtime. Yes indeed I am suggesting to you – the busy professional that you are, that you play and have fun! Don’t tell me that singing along to your favourite power ballad (or other guilty pleasure music) doesn’t make the washing up more fun. Or that a bit of silliness with your 9-year-old, or your partner, or your best friend is not going to lighten your mood, no matter how much you have on your plate. According to Dr. Brene Brown, the researcher, and author, ‘doing things just because they’re fun and not because they’ll help achieve a goal, is vital to human development.’ We need play for our own health and happiness.
3. More mindful moments. We can get bogged down in seriousness, and overwhelmed by all that needs doing. Stop worrying, busying and planning, instead take a few moments in your day to be really present. Fully savour the food you are eating, notice the blossoms on the trees, feel the ease with which your body moves as you walk. Mix in some gratitude to power it up, and you will start connecting to the simplicity and joyousness of your life even more. Those little magic mindful moments are a great way to lighten up and get some perspective.
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To download FREE audio ‘Leave work worries behind’ click here
Listen to or download audio blog: 5 secrets to banish work anxiety on Sunday evenings
Do work thoughts start to invade your mind on Sunday evening, leaving you a little anxious for the remainder of your weekend?
Do you start switching into work mode after your Sunday dinner, perhaps checking and responding to work emails? Has Sunday evening become an extension of your working week?
The weekend is your free time. It’s time to have fun, to replenish and to explore life! Here are my top secrets to banishing work anxiety on Sunday evenings, so the whole weekend is yours to enjoy:
1. Start on Friday. Before you leave work on Friday map out your to-do list for Monday. Be clear on your top 3 high-priority tasks for the day. This need only take a few minutes but it makes the difference between starting Monday on the back foot or front foot. Once you know you have organized your work on Friday, you know you will start Monday with a clear focus instead of stepping into Monday morning mayhem.
2. Don’t look at work emails on Sunday (or over the weekend at all for that matter). Give yourself permission to have a full weekend of personal time. If it’s a ‘must’ to check your emails on Sunday then dedicate a defined slot to review what has come in and whether it impacts your priority to-do list for Monday. Resist looking at work emails after that. Can you turn off your work email on your phone so you won’t see new emails without actively going in to look at them? If not then consider switching your phone to airplane mode on Sunday evening.
3. Get my free audio download ‘leave work worries behind’ from this website – you can click on the link at the bottom of this blog. Do the guided exercise to relax and release tension, followed by the visualization exercise. You might choose to visualize how you want to feel at the end of your working day on Monday. Imagine having a great day at work and how you might feel at the end of the day. Positive expectations put you in the right mindset for a good day.
4. Swap your old Sunday night habit of switching into work mode, for a new calming and nurturing Sunday night ritual. Psychologically this change means you will look forward to Sunday evenings instead of dreading them. In the hour or so before you go to bed, start winding down. Have a bath with candles or try some gentle bedtime yoga. ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube is a great free resource. She has a 7-minute or a 20-minute bedtime yoga session. Explore other ways to peacefully replenish, so your Sunday night ritual is one you want to do each week.
5. A simple gratitude exercise is very powerful. Ask yourself what three things you have most enjoyed over the weekend? Consider what experiences have you had, and who you have shared your time with over the weekend. It is also a wonderful practice to recall three small simple things you have enjoyed over the weekend such as hearing a birdsong, seeing the sun break through the clouds, the smell of your coffee, or that delicious slice of cake. Recollecting and feeling grateful for your weekend really does enhance your feeling of having had a fulfilling weekend, and that’s a much more satisfying way to end your weekend than worrying about work!
To download FREE audio ‘Leave work worries behind’ click here
At one time it seemed as though my life flowed in two parallel streams – in one I was the Gina who could thrive in the main stream corporate world, and in the other I was the alternative, hippy, spiritual Gina. They just didn’t seem to gel together. I thought they were destined never to integrate so I switched continuously from one stream to another. Monday to Friday I was immersed in the adrenaline fuelled chaos of an investment bank, which had a level of excitement and fulfilment but still left me lacking. During weekends I was often on soul connection retreats, being guided to know my true essence, perhaps with some peaceful OM chants thrown in. There I’d reach a level of inner connectedness and fulfilment that didn’t seem possible in my working life. I certainly straddled different worlds!
Eventually I discovered that I could indeed integrate those apparently opposing sides of me. I didn’t need to start a meeting by chanting three OMs or ask my colleagues to tune into their higher guidance! But that same part of me that I connected to when on retreats, could be integrated into my working life, most effectively by me simply being kinder to myself. The more often I let benevolence permeate my actions, my words, my thoughts and my feelings, the more meaning and contentment I felt at work. My day flowed better.
The integration process was complete by me recognising the contribution I was making to my surroundings just by having a gentler inner voice. I can so clearly recall a colleague one day saying, to my surprise, that she felt so calm just sitting beside me! Over time other colleagues made similar comments.
Our internal voice effects the people around us, just as much and sometimes more than our spoken words.
I grew in awareness of how my more loving internal world could enriched those around me, and it was a game changer. That is what gave my working life a deeper level of satisfaction and meaning. I enjoyed my working day in a new way, I was happier and others seemed to feel good around me. Beyond the job I was being paid to do, I felt like I had a secret mission! For the first time in my corporate job, just by being my best self, I felt purposeful.
No doubt I’ll still search for bigger and deeper ways to make a positive impact on the the world, because its in human nature to want to grow and expand. But it feels good to know that when I tune in to my most loving self and move beyond my fears, doubts and frustrations, that that is perhaps the most wonderful contribution I can make to life.
Connecting to the joyful flow of our heart and soul requires stepping into our light, and moving beyond what is limiting our joy of life.
Joy can seem a long way away when we are fed up of miserable weather, overwhelmed by responsibility, disillusioned by setbacks, doubting that our hopes and dreams will manifest or nagging worries about money keep tugging at us.
It’s a downward spiral and the ‘if only’ game repeating in our heads pushes us further down. While we do need to be aware of what is triggering these emotions, sometime what we most need is to push the dark cloud away and get back to our center.
Setting ourselves on a different track with forced optimism can seem quite hollow, and genuine enthusiasm can seem like a leap too far.
So here’s a gentler approach… seeking a little contentment.
It’s a very small shift from being ‘fed up’ to recognising that right now, in this moment, ‘life is ok’.
Quite clearly a ‘life is not so bad really’ statement isn’t going to win any motivational awards. It certainly doesn’t rock my world and propel me into ecstatic joy. But what that minuscule shift does do is take us off the downward spiral, onto the upward spiral.
Some days the thought that life is all right is actually enough to realign you, stop you wallowing and set you back on the right track. Other days it’s only bringing you to the very bottom of the upward spiral, just barely touching contentment. Settle there a bit, no need to push yourself higher nor let your mind drag you down lower.
So maybe the dreaded X will happen and the desired Y never will – but such thoughts keep your mind in an imagined future, they are not reality. When you ground yourself back in the present moment you are actually in a much stronger position to handle what life throws at you. From here you can begin leaving behind the pain of resistance to what life is presenting you with and start to embrace acceptance and surrender to what is. Allowing in thoughts of gratitude for simple pleasures and kindnesses, and that light can begins to colour your day, naturally outshining the earlier gloom.
And then it’s a very natural rise to a brighter place. You are on the up.