Mind and Body

A helping hand at the end of your own arm

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I am the friend that loves to listen. Don’t get me wrong, I love to chat too. I could literally talk underwater and phone conversations with me are never just a ‘hi and bye’. What I mean, is that I have really come to enjoy being mindful (this has taken me forever and trust me, I am no expert!) and being completely present in the conversations I have with people.

Interestingly, but also very obviously, it’s so much easier to remain in this logical state when a friend discusses a situation that they need help with because it’s not yours. A friend’s situation allows you to look at the facts, remain objective, be logical and see the situation for what it is.

So, this brings me to the question…when it’s our own thoughts, why is this practice so much harder? Why can’t our mindful, logical selves that we hold together so well for others not permeate through and evaporate thoughts that we know are not helpful? The majority of our unhelpful thoughts are completely irrational too, yet we don’t see that at the time.

If we can be mindful and logical for others, why not ourselves?

via GIPHY

Breaking the habit

When we do something out of habit, we are familiar, we feel comfortable, there are limited risks and we rarely question it. We may not enjoy the habit, but it feels safe. Sometimes, however, habits can be restrictive and can make us fearful of taking risks and venturing into the unknown.

I believe that this can relate to our thoughts. If we can offer empathy and see our friend’s situation for what it is, we have the skills to do this for ourselves. So, this got me thinking, how much of our negative thoughts are out of habit?

Do we continue to get caught up in unhelpful thoughts because feeling any different is scary, too unfamiliar, taking too much of a risk? Have we become so used to the difficult process that feeling relaxed, present and content most of the time actually feels uncomfortable and unreachable?

The most wonderful thing about a habit, it that it is just that, a habit. We can choose to have it or change it. We don’t have to be a burden to our unhelpful thoughts because it is something that we have become used to. We can change these thinking habits and instead become more familiar with more helpful and adaptive thoughts.

We just need to create a new habit.

So, here are some ideas that may help kick the habit:

Gratitude

With social media sites becoming more and more popular, it’s hard to avoid getting caught up in what we don’t have (because we can’t all be looking like super models that have their shit together while drinking a turmeric latte with a two-year-old). Realistically, it’s unattainable and puts unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Gratitude can help us see situations in a more positive way, allows us to be happy within ourselves and helps us realise what we have and what is not that important.

Looking after yourself

Recently, I went to a naturopath to assist with my autoimmune condition. Understanding nutrition and how it affects the body immediately made me feel motivated to get onto a healthy eating plan straight away. I feel great knowing that I am making a concerted effort to do this for myself and for my body. This is the same with meditation and exercise. When we make the effort to do things to help ourselves we are showing ourselves love and kindness which can create a more helpful habit.

Be your own best friend

Somewhere along the road we learnt or felt that being hard on ourselves was useful. However, most of the time, it creates the opposite of the desired intention we wish to achieve. How different may the outcome be if we showed the same compassion and empathy with ourselves that we do for friends and loved ones? Being a good friend requires loyalty, trust, empathy and compassion. Sometimes the most important friendship we need first is the one with ourselves.

So, let’s ask the question again, if we can be everything for others, why not ourselves?

 

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Anita is a writer and editor for The Merry Go Round. She enjoys all things motivational and inspiring, fashion, food, having a good chat and being a mum to her adorable two year old son, Jude.