just checking in…
All of us do it from time to time with friends and family. We check in. Some times to just catch up and ‘shoot the breeze’. Other times to see how they are getting on. Are they OK? do they need help with anything? If you are a coaching or counselling professional, you may do it with your clients, from time to time. You could do it for so many different reasons; that simple: “Hey, how are you getting on?” Ever tried checking in on yourself? It is a great, first step to becoming more conscious every day. If you have a lot of ‘stuff’ on the go, and most of us do, keeping the clutter out of the mind is quite important. Sometimes we are not that good at keeping it all in order though. Constantly coming up with new ideas and taking on new mini projects…often to please others, relegating ourselves to a back seat. If left to our own devices too long, we could end up with a lot of clutter that we keep ‘tripping over’ in our minds. Thoughts become rushed and start to take control…and us…with them. Emotions soon follow and we can quite easily get a little manic, before dropping into a slump. ’Slump’…the sound of the word says it all. It sounds like wet bread dough sliding out of the bowl and hitting the floor… For me that is not positive!! When this happens, that same, simple question “Hey, how are you doing?” … can also be used as a very powerful ‘self-coaching’ tool. When relevant, I suggest my clients do it at least once a week. Use this same question to start a ‘check in’ on yourself.
Make the time to look at you When I do it, I take my trusty moleskin and any old pen, find a quiet place to sit with a cup of tea and head into an hour or so of free writing…in a manner of speaking.
Any writing tools will do though. Ideally ones where you can keep a record of the writing…not throwing it away. Date the top of a clean page and simply title it “Check in”. The very first thing to write on the page then is that question: “How are you doing?” Personalise it though… “How am I doing?” This subtly forces the question inward, to you. You need to own your ‘stuff’ to make a difference. Sometimes the answer to this first question comes easily and quickly. Other times you may need to sit for a few minutes before writing the most honest answer you can muster. That is the key. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. If you are not, you may as well just sit and drink that tea…leave the writing out of it. No matter the answer to that first question, the second question is always: “What am I feeling that makes me say that?” This is where it normally gets a lot more interesting as I really recommend answering from all aspects / parts of yourself. Emotionally - E.g. “I am feeling frustrated or happy or sad or excited…” Physically - E.g. “I am feeling tense in my shoulders, my back is tired this week, I have this constant pain in my neck…” Mentally - E.g. “My mind is racing, I can’t seem to focus” or “I have been thinking very clearly and my mind seems to be quite calm…” For some, spiritually “I am at peace, clear of purpose” or (cliche alert!!) “Why am I here?”
Nutritionally - E.g. ""I'm eating really well. I can feel the difference." "I'm eating too much rubbish food. I'm not feeling good after meals..."
And more... I always try to include positive and negative aspects; answering from more than one aspect. If one stands taller than the others in the queue to be looked at, though…maybe that is one that needs to be looked at closely in the following steps.
Focus on what you want, not what you think is real now!
Pick the most prominent point(s) you've written down. The one(s) that really wrench at your gut when you re-read the lines they are written on.
Once you’ve pinpointed the feeling, turn it on it’s head... “How would I rather be feeling?”
This is where the the next step of real work starts...”What do I need to do differently to feel that way?...The way I would rather feel.” Really take the time to think about the things that will really make a difference. Don’t filter them though. If they seem drastic, maybe they need to be drastic. If they seem simple and easy, that too is what they may be.
E.g. "I want 1 hour, each day, of good exercise. It can be anything, but I find swimming, yoga and walking are when I feel at my best, because these also give me time to get my mind focussed and relaxed. Yoga and walking I can fit in anywhere, so maybe the swimming I'll do on weekends."
PLAN the actions and then ACT on the plan
The idea is to draw up a list of things you can do to take control of yourself in this life. The list of things YOU CAN DO. Try to avoid listing things others must do!!! You can never control those.
Lastly...Pick 1 thing and set a date for when it will be done or when you will start doing it. A date within the subsequent week.
Then do it...take control of yourself in this life!
Some context... One way of looking at where emotions come from is this:
1) Thoughts; our emotions are the body processing conscious or unconscious thoughts. I.e. You cannot think ‘happy’. you think about something that makes you happy and your body starts ‘feel’ happy. 2) Sensations; These are the ‘physical feelings’, above and other sensory input we get from interacting with the world we live in. I.e. We see our child standing high on a ladder and, without noticeable thought, get a hollow feeling in the stomach or in the genital region…maybe with a quick physical shudder and some ‘goose flesh’. Fear has touched us and instinctively we react. Our bodies imperative for survival and to protect our young has kicked in and all manner of horror thoughts have started to run through our minds.