So life has not gone according to my plan, my dreams or my imagination. It has been a series of devastating events one after another. For a lot of these years, I was the classic victim. I let these negative events control my mind and my thoughts. It affected how I viewed the world and the people in it. For a long time, it seemed I could do nothing right and I became severely chronically and clinically depressed.
As a result of this depression, I wanted nothing to do with the world at large. I became a hermit living behind the walls of my home with little to no communication with the outside world. I had two children that were counting on me and relying on me, yet I limited myself to doing only what I had too when I had too in order to survive. I basically checked out of reality and life. I was distant emotionally to even my own children. I took care of them, made sure they were fed and clothed. Made sure they had a roof over their heads and showed my support for them. But I was not really connecting in the way a mother should with her children.
I would watch television and movies with them but I would never get down and play with them or praise them for good deeds. Well, I am being a bit harsh on myself here. I would have brief moments of praise for my children, brief moments of happiness and pure joy at something they had accomplished, and likewise, I would play with them and interact. Just not to the extent I should have. So I cannot truly say I “never” did these things. But these were brief times that did not last and it made an impact on my children’s youth. Truth is my entire life amid my 30’s is a blur of ups and downs with little awareness of being in the moment.
This is so sad to look back on. To know that I could have changed this funk I was in and could have been totally different had I only had the correct mindset. I did NOT have to be the victim of the situations that happened to me. I could have been the survivor of these events instead. Just that one minor change could have made a world of difference in life.
Alas, we cannot go back in time and change the past. We can, however, take a moment out of our present in an effort to reflect, learn and grow from our experiences. This is considered being mindful. We hear a lot about this word ‘MINDFUL’ or ‘Mindfulness’ in today’s world. Few of us truly understand what it means or implies we should be doing. I know I had no clue as to this word or it’s meaning up until a few years ago. Now that I do understand it, I have a strong desire to spread the word about this amazing transformation I have made because of it. I want to see others transform their thoughts, dreams, and lives when they too become mindful.
In order to understand mindfulness, one must also know what it means to be in an emotional mindset.
When you are in an emotional state of mind you are responding and reacting to the emotions you feel in any given situation good or bad. Kneejerk reactions are foremost in our responses especially when facing difficult situations or people.
In recent years, we hear the word “Triggered” used all the time. This is an example of people living in their emotional mindset. They hear or see something and claim being triggered in an emotionally negative way. If you hear a funny joke being told, you laugh out loud and it makes you happy. You communicate that happiness through your laughter as well as your actions and conversation following the joke being told. If someone is yelling at you for making a mistake, you become automatically defensive, angry or sad. You communicate this anger and sadness in your body language, actions and verbally spoken words as a response to being yelled at. These are just a few examples of being in your emotional mind. There are many more I could write about but I think you get my drift.
Living in an emotional mindset causes us to lose our sense of being truly present in any given situation. We are so worried about our feelings and emotions that we tend to take everything the wrong way. We focus on the negative and read between the lines. We assume everyone is out to get us and respond according to those thoughts and emotions. For the purpose of truly creating positive lasting relationships of any kind, it is imperative we learn to be mindful of how we respond and react to others. Admitting we are living in an emotional mindset is very difficult. But it is something we must do if we are to succeed in changing the course of our lives.
So what does it mean to be mindful?
To be mindful means you have an awareness of your present feelings, thoughts, and sensations. You can accept things for what they are and remain in a calm state of mind while acknowledging these things about yourself. It means you can communicate these thoughts, feelings, and sensations to others without a kneejerk reaction getting in the way.
To say old habits die hard is an understatement. It takes practice, a ton of patience, and an extreme amount of effort on our parts to change to a mindfulness type of response. It simply will not happen overnight.
The following 5 are steps I took and am still following in this process. These tips have helped me tremendously in breaking out of the depression and responding in a wise mind.
- One of the key factors that helped me in this process (is still helping me) is thinking of it like you do for good vs. evil with the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel sitting on the other. In this case, one would be emotional mind and the other would be wise mind which represents mindfulness. Which one are you going to listen too? Hopefully the wise mind.
- Learn to have a keyword or phrase that you can use to alert others that you are in an emotional state of mind and need to take a time out from the conversation or situation and will return when you have calmed down and attained the wise mind. This will be detrimental in helping you achieve a peaceful environment.
- Do not be afraid to ask those around you to give you the space and understanding you need in order to make this transition. In most cases, those people will learn to appreciate and respect you more for the efforts you are making to change.
- Get yourself a small box. Cut a slit in the top and then decorate it as your “Emotional Mind Box.” Every time you feel your emotional mind taking over, write it down and put that piece of paper into the box. Once it is in the box, it is gone so let go of it. Whatever it is, just choose to let it go. Every month you can make a ritual of opening the box, reading all of the little slips of paper then burn them or tare them up and throw them away. Again, CHOOSE to let it be gone once this process is over. Then start fresh each and every month.
- Self-care is very important in this process. So get yourself a medium-sized container of some sort. In this container put things that make you truly happy and relaxed. Some suggestions would be bath bombs, books, colored pencils, and paper, coupons to treat yourself to an ice cream or dinner out, stress ball, hair dye, chocolate, self-help material, really anything your heart desires that you can take out and have some “ME TIME” to make you feel good about yourself. Give yourself time each day or every few days to take this box out and utilize the items in it.
In the end, it ultimately comes out to you. Do you want to change? Do you want your quality of life to improve? Do you want to build positive relationships with others or rebuild the ones you already have?
If you always do what you have done and continue to get the same results, why would you continue on that same path over and over? The perpetual banging head on a brick wall or walking down a dead-end path comes to mind here. You can change! It really is as simple as choosing what path you are going to take and making a commitment to follow that path regardless of the obstacles in your way. It is, in fact, a choice one must make. It is a daily process. It is a battle you can WIN.