Wow, with how much time we’ve spent with ourselves over the last six weeks or so, you may have been getting to know yourself too well! Really, think back . . . working from home, homeschooling, and just generally not being able to move about freely, created many more opportunities for us to spend time with ourselves. So how are you feeling about yourself? While some of us may have turned to yard work, minor home improvements, or obsessive bread baking to fill the time vacuum, these time filling chores are often not enough to ward off unwanted thoughts and feelings. Normally quieted by our laundry list of daily chores and commitments, the increased amount of down time has contributed to an atmosphere for unwanted thoughts and feelings to become louder and more frequent. You might even have the gift of new unwanted thoughts and feelings in realities of a COVID-19 pandemic environment. While keeping your mind and body busy can be helpful with managing unwanted thoughts and feelings, there are other approaches which might assist as well. Instead of greeting your unwanted feelings or thoughts with busyness, consider getting to know yourself too well . . . with peacefulness, compassion, and without judgment. Consider using principles of mindfulness.
Flex your Compassion Muscles
Compassion is a central theme of mindfulness practice which helps the practitioner to view unwanted thoughts and feelings from a different perspective. When unwanted thoughts or feelings arise, try approaching the thought or feeling with compassion for yourself for feeling exactly what you are feeling at that moment. Consider a close friend or family member came to you and disclosed that they were having anxiety about their last child leaving for the military soon. How would you respond? Would you have compassion toward their feelings of anxiety? Greeting your unwanted thoughts and feelings with compassion gives your body and mind the chance to experience your true; honest emotions in a supportive internal environment, decreasing discomfort with these feelings.
No Judgement Zone
Perhaps one of the most important components of the practice of mindfulness is approaching your unwanted thoughts and feelings without judgement. Associating negative judgements with, or thinking that you are a bad person for having unwanted thoughts and feelings, are associations the practice of mindfulness seeks to avoid. Rather than judging your thoughts or feelings, seek to acknowledge unwanted thoughts or feelings as just that, a thought and feeling which you are experiencing. Going back to the example above, would you judge your friend or family member for feeling anxious about their child going to the military? Or would you not consider using a judgmental lens with your friend and family member instead opting for empathy?
Spend Time With Yourself!
Seems totally counterintuitive right? After all, spending time with yourself is part of the problem! Spending time with yourself in the practice of mindfulness is intentional and dare I say enjoyable! This deliberate quieting of the outside world is a key step in creating an internal environment for greater acceptance of your naturally occurring thoughts and feelings. While some thoughts and feelings can be unwanted, mindfulness provides a roadmap to a more peaceful coexistence with these feelings until something can be changed. Carving out time for quiet reflection can help you manage unwanted thoughts and can strengthen your ability to greet these thoughts with compassion and non-judgement. The practice of mindfulness can happen in all aspects of life, but it is also important that it be reinforced through quiet meditation and mind training. You can’t become proficient in something you don’t practice.
Mindfulness is not submission to emotional pain or acceptance of low self-worth. Rather, it is creating an internal atmosphere of compassion and acceptance for your feelings and thoughts until you can achieve a better balance. Just as you have trained your mind to process multiple thoughts and feelings across a few minutes, you can train your mind to be more focused on the moment and to approach feelings with increased compassion and less judgement. Getting to know yourself too well during a pandemic might just be the best thing that ever happened to you!
I’m new to Healing Hearts of Indy and ready to connect with clients and help them move towards a better life. You can reach me at (317)514-5049 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you on your journey!