Ever noticed how our thoughts and moods constantly change?
How a care-free mood suddenly becomes a series of doubts and insecurity; how a grumpy world-weary you suddenly is lighter just because of a smile from a stranger?
Go on, try it – smile at a complete stranger – a really big, “life is good” smile; and see what happens! (I bet you’ll screw up the rest of their day as they try to figure out where they know you from, asking themselves “What did I do last night…?”).
Lots of us are doubting our selves at the moment. The sense of relief when we realise we don’t have to worry about wearing the mask we don’t carry any more to the pangs of guilt when we see the people in the frozen food aisle all still wearing theirs…. The sense of relief as we close the home-office door to the creeping uncertainty of should we check our emails one last time just before going to bed.
All of the time our doubts and fears, our hopes and aspirations, our moods and emotions – and our responses to them – change.
Ever wondered why?
Did you realise that your mind is capable of processing up to 120 bits of information per second
120 PER SECOND. That means just as you have decided the red kitten heel slingbacks go really well with the lipstick then you question if the chelsea boots might be a better option… – because you haven’t even realised you have noticed its raining.
We are not cracking up, or doubting ourselves but living. We can all be responding to events and actions around us without even being aware of it, we process this information and react, often in an automatic way ‘programmed’ by others without really attending to ourselves.
Sometimes the stimulus, the thing we are responding to is not really comfortable for us – the fake smile and half laugh at your colleague’s joke that you actually think is in really bad taste…Then we wonder why we smiled and our previously quietly happy mood becomes darker and we start to worry about why we think that way, and even if what we believe in is valid…
All the time we are in a constant state of ‘Mental Fluidity’ our thoughts and emotions – our moods -are like ducks on a pond: sometimes they drift with the currents, sometimes they paddle gently away, other times they appear calm but underneath are paddling like hell just to stay in the same spot… sometimes they just soar away from us and fly…
All of this is OK!
Jon Kabat-Zin, the ‘Father’ of Mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhism, said:
“The transformation comes with the understanding that you are not your thoughts about yourself. You are far far bigger, more nuanced and multidimensional than who you think you are, the story of you.“ (2)
Kabat-Zin promoted Mindfulness in 1979. 22 years earlier writing before Kabat-Zinn, Carl Rogers, recognised as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20thcentury, wrote:
“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change” (3).
22 years before Kabat-Zin was born (22 again – 2 little ducks!), a 20 year old Rogers was experiencing eastern culture and beliefs whilst on mission in China. Is it any surprise then that Mindfulness and Person-centred counselling are both said to “exist in the moment with awareness, kindness, and acceptance” (4). .
So next time your mood changes and your not sure why, especially if it just does not feel right, just take a moment..
Allow yourself some ‘Mental Fluidity’; focus on who you are and what is actually important and either just go with it or, if you don’t like it; if it isn’t who you really are: change it.
Author: Alan Madin, Resident Psychotherapist at www.safetyinbeauty.com