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!
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
When we describe something as being very ‘corporate’ the last thing we think of is human kindness. However those of us who work in the corporate world know all too well that corporate business is really all about people. Robots haven’t taken over yet!
Sometimes in the office we can feel negative towards or just disconnected from the people around us. We are busy doing our job; those around us are busy with their jobs. It can be easy to forget that we are all complex, diverse, multi dimensional, amazing people. No person can be otherwise because all human beings have had a kaleidoscope of varied experiences. What I do sometimes to nurture the human connection is actively find things to appreciate about others. All it takes is to look at them with fresh eyes and acknowledging something about them that I like… even if overall they are not my cup of tea!
I may see the guy who is annoyingly loud, and notice that he is usually very upbeat and positive too.
I may notice the lovely gentle energy of the quite guy who seems almost invisible in the office hustle and bustle.
I may see someone light up when she talks about her kids, or find out that she loves architecture & thinks London is the best place in the world to live.
There is a lot of ‘blending in’ in the office, look how much grey, navy and white is worn!. Yet when we get curious we can start to see people’s uniqueness. We are so much more than our job titles, how well we do our job or where we are in the corporation’s hierarchy. When we broaden our view, maybe taking 30 seconds to notice someone or to engage in conversation at the water machine, seeing more dimensions of our colleagues then we start to enjoy more things about them. They don’t have to be our new bestie but they don’t need to be invisible or an annoyance.
How would your week be different if you set yourself a task to look at three colleagues with fresh eyes? Find something to appreciate in them that you haven’t seen or realized before. Be open and curious to whatever that may be. Maybe you will share something about yourself too that is totally unrelated to work. As you open more to others know that you are opening up to more generosity of spirit within yourself too. You are instigating more human connection, and after all corporations are really all about the people.
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.