Well it's December already and we're on the slippery slope to Christmas. Here in the Southern Hemisphere it's officially Summer now. I'm back to shorts and jandals and I'm getting back into swimming daily. Bliss!
I'm aware though, that Christmas can be a tough time for many people. Basically, anything that is likely to push your buttons will generally happen around Christmas: Family (or the lack thereof), difficult memories, food, alcohol, loneliness, a lack of work to keep you distracted, cheesy Christmas adds (with happy, smiling people), buying presents (or not being able to buy presents), the absence of special people, distance (geographical or personal) - the list could go on and on.
SO, over the next few weeks to Christmas, I thought I'd write on different topics that may hopefully make this season a happier time - or at least a little easier to bear. This week our topic is "Who's Voice." I think next week we'll look at Identity, then grief and loss, then self care strategies for Christmas. So, here we go!
Something I've been really challenged with lately is the following question: Who's voice am I letting direct my steps? When I am triggered, or when my buttons are pushed, is it the voice of identity that responds? Does it say "it's ok, you're ok, let's slow down and think things through. How can I honour myself and the other person and the situation in my response here?" Or does it say "here we go again, this is another example of your failure, you're rubbish and the world knows it!" Do I act with kindness and firmness; or do I worry and avoid or lash out in anger?
If you're anything like me, you're probably hovering between the two extremes. Sometimes I respond well; I show restraint and I think about the consequences of my speech and actions. Other times - especially if my physical and emotional resources are low - I can throw a tantrum with the best of them!
Sometimes our internal voices sound like our own voice. Sometimes they sound like the voice of a parent or an influential figure in our lives. Sometimes these internal voices are kind. But often they're not. If our internal dialogue is on the "not so kind" spectrum, it can affect us in all sorts of different ways. Most importantly, it acts like a set of lenses through which I view the world. If I believe I'm a failure, I'll interpret everything that happens to me through that voice of "failure." If I don't do so well at something, I'll say "see - I'm a failure." Often I won't try anything new because if I can't stand being mediocre at something. I have to be the best or I won't do it at all. If I do something well, I'll say "boy, that was a fluke!" My "failure" lenses make me personalise everything. I'll assume that anything bad that happens must be my fault. I'll assume that if you're unhappy or if you don't say 'hi' to me when we pass on the street; it must be because you're upset with me and that I've done something wrong. I'll spend hours in worry and I'll try and control everything in my world so it looks 'good.' (Because if people really knew what was going on they'd see my failure and reject me).
I know this is a drastic example, but we all do this to some degree or another don't we? We all desire relationship and acceptance but- fear rejection. We all have masks that we wear in public. We all 'put on a happy face' to hide what's really going on.
I guess what I'm asking you to look at here is this: Who's voice do you hear in your subconscious most often? Does it speak to you of your identity, worth and value - or does it drive you to be better to hide your lack. Does it challenge you to step out into life and adventure - or does it tell you to avoid and hide so no-one see's you.
What I'd love for you to do this week is to listen out for your thoughts. We have the ability as humans to observe our thinking. Give it a go. If you find yourself stressed or under pressure, how do you react - what are you thinking? Just notice it. How does it leave you feeling?
When you are triggered, Pause......Breathe........Notice.
If you can, write it down. You might be surprised by what you find.
The purpose of this exercise is to bring the unconscious into the conscious. It's not until we do this that we have any power to change if we want to.
Have a go!
P.S.: Remember, if that negative voice is the loudest and most dominant in your mind; your 'lenses' will only show you the bad, the sad and the unhappy aspects of life. BUT that's not all there is! Notice that voice when it comes, but then start looking for an alternative story. What can you see around you that is good and beautiful and special? What could be an alternative interpretation to what is going on in this situation? What can you be grateful for? Regardless how you feel about yourself - go and do something kind for yourself. Look after your body! You Matter!
Have a fantastic week!