I'm too busy to learn to thrive
It’s not uncommon to hear “I’m so stressed but I’ve no time to do anything about it”. I hear that from new clients, friends, and family. They’d love to but “there aren’t enough hours in the day”. Familiar? For many people, this isn’t just an excuse; it’s also not acknowledging (perhaps because they’re not even aware of them) limiting beliefs they may have such as:
- My whole family suffers from anxiety so it’s just part of my personality
- I’ve read lots of self-help books but I’m still the same so I doubt things will change
- My work causes me stress and there’s nothing I can do about it
For others, it may be that their mind is full of “noise” but a lot of that noise includes unhelpful thinking such as negativity or over-thinking (obsessiveness).
We can make space though. Sometimes it’s just knowing where and how to start.
Reading, writing, arithmetic AND mental health
I learnt the first three at school but mental health wasn’t on the curriculum.
We aren’t taught formally how to build strong emotional intelligence, resilience, persistence, and general mental fitness. We learn these from parents, siblings, friends, teachers, society, and our environment. If our role models are anxious, lacking social confidence, depressed, obsessive, perfectionists (just to name a few), then we may unfortunately learn these same unhealthy mental habits.
If our role models demonstrate how to overcome setbacks, see the world through a metaphorical glass half full, deal with stress and cope with the unknown, then we too may learn these important mental health skills.
The fact they are skills is not to be overlooked. Skills can be learnt. Every one of us has the capacity to be resilient and to thrive. We just need to know how.
We often look at others who have overcome significant trauma in their lives and think “I could never be that mentally strong”. Or the athlete or adventurer who has reached their extraordinary goals. While the professional athlete may have been born with a physical advantage, their minds are no different to yours and mine. We all have the capacity to build strong mental health. But having the capacity isn’t enough.
How much do you want to thrive?
Just like learning a new sport or any new skill will take some practice and effort, so too will learning to thrive. Once you start seeing the benefits though, the practice and effort starts to blend into your daily routines and habits. If 30 minutes per day for 6-8 weeks could reduce your stress/anxiety significantly, if not completely, would you say it was time well spent? This would be the suggested amount of time you need “to find” initially to work on your new thinking skills.
You’ll learn how to hear that nagging self-critical voice inside your head so you can challenge it. You’ll learn what impact that voice has on your core psychological foundations. Knowing this will give you the incentive to keep challenging that voice until he/she stops chattering so much. And when the incessant chattering stops, you’ll be able to focus much better. Your spotlight will be stronger which means you’ll be more productive and alert. Suddenly the “noise” in your mind that was filled with negative and/or obsessive thoughts is free to be filled with thoughts offering positivity and opportunity.
You’ll also feel more confident within yourself and socially. So instead of worrying how others might judge you, you’ll be able to enjoy your new thriving life.
Other exercises will help you reduce any excessive desires you have for controlling experiences in your life. We know that some control is healthy, but when it’s excessive it can be a contributor to our stress and anxiety.
How different might your life be if you could manage your thinking better and build stronger mental health?