Tag: thoughts

Insomnia-fuelled cringe-worthy craziness meets ‘Sound of Music’

Insomnia-fuelled cringe-worthy craziness meets ‘Sound of Music’

Last night was one of those  nights. You know the kind – when a rooster in the suburbs, Maria from The Sound of Music, feelings of impending anxiety, and silly rhyming couplets somehow make a sensible combination. That kind of night.

Unrelenting heat and a thirty-two week cumbersome pregnant belly is not a combination that lends itself to a good night’s sleep. I do not cope well with sleep deprivation. At all. On any level. What I find to be most unsettling is that it has the potential to trigger anxiety. Which is all very well when you can take a delightful little pill for anxiety. I can’t right now, for obvious reasons.

Last night I tried meditation. I tried quenching my thirst with a few sips of an isotonic drink. I tried reading. I was still awake when the bloody rooster that someone introduced to our neighbourhood started crowing. At bloody four o’clock in the morning. (I will find that rooster. And I won’t hurt it. I’ll simply introduce it to our cat. Who’s very friendly. And an adept hunter. )

really hope I’m not alone in this, but my thoughts start going in all sorts of crazy directions when sleep evades me in the early hours of the morning. Sometimes I dream up creative projects. Sometimes I start planning home renovations. Sometimes I compose silly little rhymes. Last night was one such occasion.

For full dramatic effect, you need to sing these lyrics to the tune of ‘My Favorite Things’ from A Sound of Music. Because insomnia makes your creativity meet your crazy in a place that you seldom want to revisit come the morning.

I’m feeling anxious but no meds for tension

Going a bit crazy from sleep deprivation

Lots of ‘to do’ lists followed by nothings

These are a few of my frustrating things.

 

When the cock crows, when the pain stings

When I’m feeling sad

I simply remember my frustrating things

Then I really feel quite mad.

Somehow, I don’t think I have a calling to be a songwriter. Or a singer.

Am I alone, or do other people also have weird and wonderful thoughts in a hazy insomnia-induced state???000 blog signature

Overcoming geese and other fears

Overcoming geese and other fears

I am afraid of geese. Seriously. It all stems back to an incident in Hyde Park, London when I was two years old. Unsurprisingly, I have no recollection of the event. But upon confessing this rather bizarre fear (especially because I never encounter any geese anyway), my mum recounted this event from my childhood. Freud would love this stuff!

You’ve got to admit this is terrifying!

I don’t have a phobia. Although I have discovered that it extends to other large birds with large beaks. Like the African grey parrot that used to wander around my mother-in-law’s living room. But then there are more serious fears – the kind that limit our development in life.

What is the predominant fear in your life that’s holding you back?  Failure, rejection, humiliation, or something else entirely? What’s that one moment in your life that you would ‘do over’ if you could?

overcoming fear and failure

In order to move forward, you have to place your fears and failures to one side. Like so many things (perhaps everything?) in life, it’s much easier said than done. But dwelling on current and past fears and failures will get you nowhere. It will just give them a more dominant position in your consciousness. Ironically, if you try to force these thoughts out of your mind, the same thing will happen. There’s a trick to this…

Although you cannot simply forget these things, you can choose to reconcile and focus. Accept that these things have happened, and that there is nothing you can do to change that. You cannot redefine the past. Reconcile yourself with these things, and accept that you can and must move forward.

It’s natural that you won’t forget your fears and failures – they will enter your thoughts. Take a step back mentally when these negative thoughts arise. See them as just that: thoughts. Remember, thoughts are not facts. Adopt a neutral stance, one of an observer who it neither critical nor judgmental. And then gently focus your attention on something else, something that is positive and rewarding.

overcome failure

We’ve all made mistakes. We’ve all been paralysed (metaphorically) by fear. We’ve all failed at things. In this way, we are all the same. But here comes the difference: some people are crippled for life, whereas others bounce back. What makes a difference is choosing to place fears and failures to one side and move on, or choosing to be overwhelmed. The choice is yours.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your crazy (like geese) or serious (like failure) fears?

The scenes of poverty that challenged my belief in personal development

The scenes of poverty that challenged my belief in personal development

Have you ever had one of those moments when you feel like a complete bourgeois hypocrite? I recently had one such humbling moment.

If you know me and/or follow this blog you will know that I believe a great deal in what I see as the necessity of self development. I’m all for personal development, finding one’s purpose in life, discovering motivation and inspiration, creating fulfillment, and the list goes on…

A few months ago my husband and I spent a couple of weeks traveling around South Africa. The last week or so consisted of a road trip from the west coast, following the coastline all the way back to our home near the east coast.

(Can I please just mention here that it was an actual bona fide road trip with stops along the way etc. My pet hate is when people say they are going on a road trip whereas they are actually simply driving from Point A to Point B without doing anything along the way apart from getting petrol and having toilet breaks. That is just a drive. A commute. Stop trying to make those ordinary journeys sound like exciting adventures worthy of an art film. Okay, rant over. Whew.)

So we were nearing the end of our road trip. Many people advise not to drive the last stretch, and to simply get in a plane once you reach a certain point. We decided to drive the whole way in order to see more of our country.

This meant that we drove through some very poor, undeveloped regions. As we drove along winding bumpy roads rife with potholes, we had to avoid hitting not only pedestrians but cattle, horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, chickens, and dogs as well. What we saw was people consumed by the need to survive.

I really saw how so many people’s lives are consumed by the basic requirements for survival. We drove past people carrying water containers and large bundles of firewood. We saw people tending to crops and looking after herds of animals. And this was not some rosy idyllic country scene. This was poverty.

It was then that I felt so incredibly humbled. I’ve always known that I am fortunate to not live in poverty. But I suddenly realised that something like personal development, something that I see as a necessity, is actually a luxury. If your every waking moment is consumed with tasks and chores that are focused on looking after your basic needs, the idea of ‘working on yourself’ seems so embarrassingly bourgeois.

I don’t think I will disregard the notion of personal development. But I now see it as a luxurious indulgence. Because, after all, I now have a completely different perspective as to what really constitutes a problem in life.

I’d love to hear your views on this topic…

Pink elephants, lemon meringue pie, and eliminating toxicity

Pink elephants, lemon meringue pie, and eliminating toxicity

I have to admit that I read a lot of articles of the LifeHacker variety. If you’re like me, you’ll have this this lovely warm Aha! moment. And then dish up another serving of dessert as you watch yet another episode of Bones, and somehow forget the beauty of that insight.

On another note, I’m a self-confessed lemon meringue pie snob. And glutton. And addict. And obsessive. And compulsive.

Over and over again we’re told the same stuff:

  • eat right
  • exercise right
  • sleep right

But we also need to think right.

And I’m not just talking about having the right mindset, or being optimistic. Judging from what people say and write, I think that we’re guilty of a lot more negativity that we realise. I believe that negative thoughts and comments are truly toxic to our wellbeing.

toxic thoughts

It’s just so easy to fall into the trap. I think we’re all too quick to judge, to criticise, to belittle, to gossip. Oh of course we all agree that these things are awful, but yet these kind of comments seem to creep into conversations all the time. And I’m no exception.

Taking it a step further, I think that even negative things said in jest, in teasing, are just as toxic. If you’re think I’m being oversensitive, then that’s okay. I think you’ll just be proving my point. Because it’s okay to be sensitive. I’d rather have a capacity for empathy and be sensitive than be that woman who sends bitch slap messages.

negative messages

I think that even when we say negative things in a joking manner, that negativity is still transferred somehow. I’ll use an example that is random but is nonetheless one of my personal favourites…

Whatever you do, do NOT think of a pink elephant.

I’m hazarding a guess that you now have an image of a rosy pachyderm in your mind? It’s kinda cute, hey? Awwww. Okay, back to my point…

Even though the instruction was not to think of something, that idea or image was still presented to your consciousness. I think that negative things said in a joking or teasing fashion are just the same. Long after the humorous tone has faded, the message remains.

So here’s to being mindful of what we are thinking, saying and writing. To eliminating the negative – and being committed to doing so.

do not think of a pink elephant

You’ll have to read my next post to find out my embarrassing confession when it comes to eliminating the toxicity in my life.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on the extent of negativity and trying to eliminate it?

Trusting the Present

Too much of our time is spent mulling over the past or worrying about the future, which robs us of our present. The truth is that we need to just trust the process.

Even though I’m not particularly religious, I do believe that you need to have faith that things will work out. You need to have a sense of trust that things will in fact be okay. I’m not saying that you can simply sit back and let life happen. Obviously you need to do what you can to create the life that you want. But you need to do so in such a way that you can focus on the present. I really believe that in order to be happy, you have to leave the past behind you, have faith in the future, and be mindfully present in your life.

It is only in this way that you will be able to extract true enjoyment from your daily life. I think that the key to getting the most out of life is a combination of optimism and mindfulness.

What Are Your Emotions Doing to Your Brain?

“Emotions are related to activity in brain areas that direct our attention, motivate our behaviour, and determine the significance of what is going on around us.”

It is so important to keep this in mind because heightened emotions have such a powerful and far-reaching impact on our lives, and the lives of those around us. Our emotions determine what we notice, how we react, and how we perceive and evaluate our environment. It’s no wonder that things look better in the morning when you’re feeling more composed. At that point your emotions are more under control, more bearable, because the immediate intensity of your emotional reaction has dissipated. This then has a calming effect on your perception of your circumstances; you tend see things in a calmer light, which then results in more mediated behaviour.

It’s just another reason why mindfulness it so important. And now neuroscience provides the incontrovertible evidence. It pays to be in tune with your emotions and to regulate them effectively. Having control over your emotional wellbeing essentially gives you control over your behaviour and the rest of your life.

The Thoughts in Which We Invest Define and Shape Our Lives

Once we’ve embraced the idea that our thoughts are neither us nor reality, the next step is deciding which thoughts are worth our contemplation and acceptance. Ultimately, this choice will define our lives. Our inner lives, our relationships, our careers… everything is defined and shaped by the thoughts we select for our own personal reality. The implications are both overwhelming and empowering.

“From thoughts come actions. From actions come all sorts of consequences. In which thoughts will we invest? Our great task is to see them clearly, so that we can choose which ones to act on and which ones to simply let be.”