BY: Janine Mitchell
Change consultant / Changing mindset
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Is being in constant stressful states causing long term damage? I would suggest so. Over 70% of hospital admissions in the western world is through stress related illness.
Did you know we can change our stress response by thought alone?
Most of us whether we realise is or not are living by the hormones of stress. We are literally in survival mode much of the time. This was extremely adaptive behaviour for our ancestors, the cavemen who had to constantly fight danger or be on high alert to survive. There was the constant need to hunt for food or being ready to fight a sabre tooth tiger.
So at an evolutional level, we are designed, predisposed and evolved to deal with stressful (dangerous and life threatening) situations. In such cases our bodies are very powerful fight or flight producing machines. So in such an eventuality all our stress hormones go into overdrive. Adrenaline and cortisol flush through the body’s system, blood rushes to the extremities to enable us to fight and use all our energy or to run as fast as we can. This is all highly complex and clever and was adaptive back then. In the present day it is very rare that we are faced with situations of danger.
In todays society however we produce those same stress hormones whenever we are in a state of stress, or even when we are just thinking about it.
An example would be if you are mulling over and over what to say to a work colleague after a dispute the day previously. Or after having a big argument with your partner. You still experience the same emotions and feelings as if you are still actually in that situation right there.
Continued production of stress hormones over a prolonged period of time is highly maladaptive behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, a certain level of stress is needed in certain situations. This is vital and it enables us to function to our optimum ability. However when we are constantly living by the hormones of stress, we are headed for disease, illness or other related problems.
What we don’t realise is that as we think the same thoughts this leads to the same choices to the same behaviours to the same experiences which leads to the same emotions which then returns us to the same thoughts. We are effectively conditioning the body to become the mind. This is because thoughts and feelings are directly linked.
Thoughts are created in the mind, feeling are within the body.
This is great for certain automatic programmes and habits such as driving, walking or talking. However its not so effective when we condition our body by negative thoughts that then lead to the same negative feelings. We then become conditioned to negative emotions such as those of worry, fear, guilt, anxiety, resentment and judgment. Old emotions are a record of the past so we are literally living in the past.
How can we then create a new future while we are living in the past! We may say the past defines who we but we are using situation right now to reaffirm our addictions to past emotions “Oh I’ve not got enough likes on Facebook today”, “nobody loves me”, “its hard to change”, you get the picture. These are all just old beliefs, non of which are true, but it is easier to reinforce as this is the familiar, this is who we are.
In essence our personality then becomes our personal reality.
The good news is we can change and I see transformational changes in the work that I do on a regular basis. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right?
- Firstly its important to become more conscious of the same thoughts and feelings. Much of this is automatic, a subconscious programme. So become more aware of those negative thoughts. Raise your awareness. Recognise moment to moment how you are feeling, rather than letting those thoughts pass you by on a subconscious level (most of the time we are that conditioned we don’t even realise we are doing the thinking).
- The more we can live by the feelings of gratitude and joy the more positives we will notice in our lives. Be in the now. Live moment to moment and be present. As soon as we are experiencing worry and anxiety, we are right back in the past and the moment we experience fear we are constructing a false future that isn’t even true yet.
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BY: Janine Mitchell
Change consultant / Changing mindset
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So why is it so hard to change? Why do we put our mind to something with a certainty with a strong intention to make a change then fail to put that plan into action?
Yes I am going to join the gym today and keep going several times a week for the rest of the year without fail and become slim and trim. Yep I am going to stop eating all that chocolate/ takeaways/ junk food and improve my health. Yes I am certainly going to stop a bad habit for good because its doing me no good on several levels. We are determined that we are going to make a change and put into practice. Then a day goes by or if you are lucky a week or two, then the same old internal dialogue starts. Oh I can start tomorrow. Todays not a good day. I’ve had a bad day. It’s not the right time now. Its too dark, its too cold, I don’t feel well. You get the picture.
Do you know how many thoughts we think a day?
Scientists would suggest anywhere between 50-70,000 thoughts, so on average around 60,000.
Most of our thoughts are negative (around 90%) and most are from the day before. Most of these are unconscious as we cannot physically be aware of that many thoughts passing through our mind.
In terms of the negativity, this is something that we are predisposed by, on an evolutional level. In the caveman days, our ancestors had to be on alert all the time. This was in order to survive, to hunt for food or to fight any predators they may come across. They were in constant ‘danger’ mode on a regular basis.
In modern day society, we aren’t too often faced with dangerous situations. However we are still in survival mode most of the time. We are often living by the hormones of stress (much more of this in future articles to come). You may be thinking right now, hang on, I think positively, I am certainly not a negative person. I often say to clients have a think about what your internal voice is saying. Notice what thoughts are coming up. Become ‘conscious’ of the unconscious. Also when you hear that internal chatter, honestly, would you be friends with that person? Just something to think about.
Also in our culture, we feed off negativity. Again, this is something we are predisposed to. Too many of us are living by the emotions of fear, worry, apprehension, guilt, resentment or judgement, to name but a few. Often, without even realising, as it has become all too familiar. Turn on the news, its full of drama and despair. Who would watch the news if it was full of happy and uplifting stories? Not many people I should imagine, viewing figure would plummet. Open the newspaper, again the same old negativity feeding us with fear and anguish. If there’s been a big accident on the motorway, most people are having a good look to see whats happened.
So we think the same thoughts and wonder why we cant make a change.
We go through the same routines and behaviours often for years on end. We get up and go through our familiar morning routine. We then rush to get to work, to rush to get jobs done, to rush to get out for lunch, to rush to get home to rush to get the dinner ready so can have time to spend with the kids, watch our favourite tv programme in the favourite chair, to rush to get to bed as you’re feeling tired in order to rush to get up again the next day and hey presto, repeat the very same routines the following day as you just did the day before. All the time expecting life to bring about big changes. You are ultimately predicting your future so your past becomes your future reality, make sense? Why? Because its easier. Its the known. Its familiar. It keeps us safe.
The advise I would give is look at your routines.
How can you implement changes even if they are small ones? Be careful of your thoughts and become more ‘consciously’ aware of what you are thinking and feeling moment to moment. If you are in the familiar cycle of lack, despair, victim mode, guilt, blame, anger etc, take note. Look at how you can shift this around. During these times we are in high alert mode. It is during these times that it is pretty much impossible for change to take place.
Look at ways you can consider to change your mindset.
It may be relaxation, meditation, exercise, anything to get you off the hamster wheel of circular thinking. Perhaps notice how you are thinking and feeling moment to moment and let whatever it is go. It is really about getting past the conscious mind, into our subconscious, our operating system if you will. This is truly where change then takes place. This may be more easy that you might think as we are in and out of our subconscious mind all day. Just remember a state of relaxation is difficult to access when we are in high alert, as I explained above.
If you want to know more about how change can be made, and often much easier than you might think, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the contact form below.
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