09/04/2018

Renewing the Mind

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:59 am by The Water Bearer

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us to “Be not conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind.”

So what exactly is the pattern of this world that lures you into conformity?

You don’t have to look far to find a number of behavioural patterns to avoid. Things like violence, manipulation, bitterness, abuse, deception, control, addiction, greed, and unpleasant emotions like loneliness, nervousness, disappointment and depression.

Yet when we strip back all these superficial traits, get curious about their origins, and delve a little deeper into the caverns of the human heart, two very prominent patterns are revealed.

Fear & Selfishness

Foolishly we have convinced ourselves that if we were actually selfish and afraid, then we would be running around screaming in terror and telling people we don’t care what they think or what they want (probably with our hands on our hips!). But that’s merely evidence of fear and selfishness in it’s most immature state. All of us have seen children behave like this. Yet, despite our assumption, we don’t actually outgrow these traits as we age, we just learn to hide them better. We hide them beneath other “grown up” characteristics, like those mentioned above, and we convince ourselves that our ‘good deeds’ are proof that we aren’t selfish at heart.

Fear and selfishness in their most comprehensive form, are attributes of “SURVIVAL” – The instinct to protect ones self at all costs. This is the way the human brain was designed, to ensure the survival of our species. When we understand that the most prominent dangers of our current society are loneliness, criticism and rejection, it can be easy to see why we develop such drastic ways to control others, build and defend our reputation, and avoid scrutiny of any kind.

Here’s a little exercise to try for yourself. Think of a behavior that you would like to change within yourself. It could be anything. Name it. (e.g. Yelling)

Now ask yourself what situations tend to spark that trait in you. Get really specific. (e.g When blamed, misunderstood or ignored)

Then identify the most obvious emotion that those situations evoke within you and any physical sensations you may experience. (Anger and desperation/clenched jaw, flared nostrils and shallow breathing)

Once you spend a moment pondering the sensation and the emotion, lean into it rather than avoiding it. Now its time to ask the most important question. What am I afraid of here (worst case scenario) and is there a self orientated motive? (e.g Afraid of not being good enough, of being rejected and not being loved / demanding that I deserve to be loved!)

Sadly these patterns are all too common and can escalate to far more serious outcomes. Seeing as we have become a species that is comfort orientated, we avoid any discomfort like the plague. This includes emotional discomfort. When we experience the usual fight, flight or freeze response to normal unpleasant emotions we fail to learn what they are teaching us. So let’s not waste the opportunity to purge some of these unhealthy patterns.

Now that we have identified the patterns of this world, lets look at how to renew your mind.

Our brains may be designed with survival mode deeply ingrained, and neural patterns as the default for many of our behaviours, but thankfully they are also malleable, which means they can change!! YEEEEW!

Now I’m no neuroscientist, but even the most prominent in their field will agree that we know very little about how amazing our brains actually are. There are new discoveries all the time which drive this exciting conversation. That being said, there are some interesting breakthroughs within neuro-psychology that recognise mindfulness and meditation as accessing the brains malleability.

So this time, when doing the exercise above, try adding another element to it. Scripture Meditation.

Locate a suitable scripture or two, by either searching online or reading your Bible. Find one that re-frames the fear and survival urge and gives an alternate, Christ-like way of responding to the situation.

(E.g. Behold  what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 & Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.)

Using usual relaxation techniques like slow breathing, being present in the moment and focusing the mind on simple stimulants such as noise, taste, smell, feel etc, allow your thoughts to settle and become quiet. Once you feel calmer, begin the exercise above again. Picture the usual situation that triggers the default pattern you wish to address and recognise the physical and emotional responses. Then ponder your scripture for a few moments, if your mind wanders just guide it gently back to the scripture, over time, the more you do this, the more chance that you will remember this scripture in those trigger situations.

The pattern has been slowed down and re-framed so that you have a moment to choose a new response.

Isn’t that amazing!

It doesn’t demand anything you can’t afford to give, it just takes the urge to be transformed, diligence, and conviction to trust the promises of God.

For those who have trouble settling their mind more than they like, adding the element of conscious slow movement helps override the wound up patterns, and increases the chance to develop self-awareness. This is why Sanctuary Stretch Classes are so multi-layered with benefits.

The trick is to understand that you can’t change anything in yourself without self-awareness. You can’t alter something you can’t admit. You can’t overcome something you can’t recognise and name.

So, what are you waiting for?

Your renewed mind is waiting for you to step up and claim it! Yeeeeew!

 

 

 

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01/08/2017

Please Excuse My Self-Care

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 12:54 pm by The Water Bearer

So often in my own life, and in the stories I’ve heard from loved ones, acquaintances and potential clients, self-care takes a back seat. Usually because we have somewhere along the way believed the stream of accusations of our selfishness, whenever we disappoint someone, either from critics around us, or our own internal voice. We find ourselves with no free time or energy, as we try to meet all the demands and responsibilities placed upon us.

We then transform into people pleasers, consumed by pedantic expectations, driving us to twist and mould into the cookie cutter shape someone else has decided we should fit. We tend to fall into the mindset that if we put everyone else’s needs before our own, then we must be right. Righteous even!

After this song and dance routine for a few years, it can be common to hit a wall. I don’t know about you, but I found it exhausting trying to keep appeasing each new unpredictable disappointment in those around me.

We are prickly creatures sometimes, us human beings, and we have a knack for taking our crap out on those closest to us. If we are lacking in self-awareness we fail to understand where the line is that allocates blame, and unable to own our own disappointments. Rather, we let fly on others, with only excuses and accusations for the outbursts.

For those of us who have commonly been on the receiving end of these outbursts, becoming a “People Pleaser” is almost second nature. Cleary accusations and guilt trips are obviously things we instinctively want to avoid, and it is often easier to change ourselves accordingly, especially when there is no apology in sight to release us from the blame.

The reason this constant shape shifting drives us into that wall, is because shape-shifting actually prevents us from knowing who we are, what our purpose is, and where we draw self-esteem from. Which is completely unsustainable long term. Plus the inner discomfort is toxic, and it usually manifests in our lives in self-destructive and unhealthy ways. Binge drinking, eating, smoking, promiscuity, and other addiction based behaviours.  Shape shifting consumes our self-compassion and our joy, leaving us with a tank emptier than an oily rag.

If we think about it logically, we only become more selfish when our tank is empty, we begin to put up walls so that we have fewer people to please. Often that empty tank leads to some form of physically illness and we suddenly realise that our illness is a wonderful way to shift the blame off our shoulders, a great excuse for failing to meet the demands of our relationships and our lives ….”I can’t keep you happy when I’m not 100% can I?”

Now be careful if this is starting to sound familiar, because it can become a viscous cycle!

This is a common reason why so many avoid regular therapy, or avoid any serious steps to develop their faith. They avoid making any positive changes in their diet, exercise regime or bad habits, and it’s why they remain stuck in a rut with staggering levels of low self-esteem, unhealthy relationships, and selfish misery.

However, setting aside time and effort, creativity and passion for your self care and the things that fill your soul, is actually going to benefit more people in the long run.

Hear me out on this.

It seems everyone now is talking about self-care vs selfishness, and the difference between having self-interest and being selfish. Is it more and more common for people to use ‘self care’ it as an excuse to get out of doing the things they don’t want to do? Which actually if you think about it, takes healthy self-care and turns it into selfishness. HOWEVER, if a little self-interest helps generate more self-awareness, less reactive behaviours, and increases joy, self-compassion and tolerance. The fall out it seems, is that self-tolerance leads to increased ability to tolerate others, self-care increases our ability to care for others in healthy ways, spreading joy and peace. Perhaps the only negative consequence is that we just might piss off a few high maintenance people along the way. Which we were probably already doing for the wrong reasons before, and I can tell you, that they will be singing a different tune when you find your tank full enough to actually help them when they Really need it!

So go ahead, give yourself permission to take care of yourself! Attend that Sanctuary Stretch Class, take ten minutes to listen to that Scripture -Meditation, enjoy some quiet moments in that warm bubble bath. Start that project you’ve been pondering. Set in place some healthy practices and protect your need to honour them. You not only Deserve it.. you Need it!

www.sanctuarystretch.com 

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