thoughts and emotions like clouds in the sky
If there’s one thing that mindfulness has taught me, then it’s this: You can’t control your thoughts nor most of your feelings.
They come and go. Like clouds in the sky.
If you’ve ever spent some time observing your thoughts, you would probably agree with me that your mind sometimes tries really hard to sell you all sorts of nonsense about yourself, your life and others.
We are constantly (!) thinking without even realising.
If you don’t believe me, try sitting quietly for ten minutes and try not to think about anything…it’s almost impossible, right?
So don’t buy into every thought. You don’t have direct control over them.
And likewise, have you ever experienced a strong emotional reaction to something that felt a little blown-out-of-proportion in hindsight? I’m sure the answer is yes, perhaps particularly so if you’re suffering from depression.
Even just the thought of an event or experience (without it actually happening) can trigger HUGE feelings inside each and everyone of us.
Anxiety very much has to do with this: being gripped by fear over what might happen in the future. Or, as is often the case with depression, thinking about something that’s happened in the past, and those thoughts are then causing us so much pain in the here and now.
We buy into all of our thoughts and that validates all the emotions that come with them.
You don’t have much direct control over your thoughts or even your feelings.
But what you DO have control over is this: What you do in any given moment.
The art of taking Action: Do it anyway!
A few years ago, I stumbled upon an online short course in Japanese psychology, titled “The Art of Taking Action”. What I’ve learned in that course has still stuck with me to this day. It was one of those really-not-rocket-science insights, but totally game-changing nonetheless.
When you realise that you don’t have much control over your thoughts and your feelings, you can then begin to truly focus on your behaviour. Because that’s the bit you do have control over. Not so much the result of your behaviour, but all the little things you do day in and day out.
Now, doing anything can be oh so difficult when you’re suffering from depression. I know from my own experience. It’s so hard to do anything when you’re feeling low and depressed. And I’m talking about even just the simple things, like taking a shower or preparing something to eat.
But it’s this very shift of moving yourself from being-mode to doing-mode that is SO important to feel better mentally.
So what do you do? Acknowledge how you’re feeling and then take action anyway.
So if you’re feeling pretty crap, don’t push that thought or those feelings away, but don’t get trapped by them either. Feel it, but do it anyway. Do what needs to get done despite how you’re feeling.
When you take an action no matter how small, you create ripples in the world. Any action has an effect on your life, right? One thing leads to another.
Now imagine you accept things as they are. You’re not tossed around by negative thoughts and feelings left and right. And then you start to do what needs to be done.
I told you it’s not rocket science, but it’s not always easy either. Just start small.
Life responds to you when you take action. And then you start to gain momentum and it’s easier to keep going.
So feel the bad stuff, but then do it anyway. Take action.