A girl on the beach at sunset, deep in her thoughts Featured

How to stop negative thoughts

Since I began my own experiment with working on my own judgments and negative thoughts, it’s opened up all kinds of things for me. My first task was to really check out in my daily life, how judgmental I was towards others and to myself. My next task was to then observe a judgmental thought came up when it came up, and question what it was about, what I was basing it on and where it had come from. It was such a revealing and freeing experiment as I realised the judgments and negativity I had about certain things were very limiting and not conducive to curiosity at all. I realised a dismissive judgment about something would shut the door on that subject and not let me wonder about it, so I payed special attention to those things.

Just talking about my journey with judgmental and negative thoughts again feels quite vulnerable and exposing, it’s good to acknowledge that. If I wonder about that, then I see that I am assuming a judgment from others that as a psychotherapist I should be judgment free, therefore I shouldn’t be exposing this side of myself. That’s also shutting another door and would mean me pretending that I’m not like every other human on the planet, so instead I’m putting this out there to widen my own curiosity and others.

How our judgements have impacted us

The vastness of what we don’t know is mind-blowing. Everything from the brain, to the body, to the cosmos, the universe, quantum physics, spirituality and so much more. My sense of the world right now is that it is becoming more polarised, and for a lot of things we’re being asked to pick a side, one being right and one being wrong, then we are defending those positions. If, as a species, we could learn to be less set in our beliefs and judgments and be more open to hearing others beliefs. We could allow ourselves to learn things that could be so eye opening, that in turn there would be less disagreements.

If we hold any negative judgments about the way we look, it’s because we have believed other peoples views or opinions about the way we should look, we’ve held onto that and chased that ideal. This makes acceptance very difficult and if we hold those judgements about ourselves, then most likely we’ll hold them about other people too. The same goes for intelligence, the type of job we do, our relationship status and where we live, etc. Just being able to catch a negative thought or judgment about something or someone can really begin to change those set beliefs.

If we are having a conversation with someone and we hear something we strongly disagree with, then we stop listening to what’s being said and just wait for the opportunity to say our bit. We all do it and we have all had it done to us. We can begin to change the way we do things by starting to observe ourselves and be more mindful about what we do or say next.

How addressing our negative thoughts can make a real change

My curiosity and observation of myself has allowed me to look at all kinds of things in more detail, from astrology, astronomy, religion, biology and energy, etc. It’s also made me much more friendly and sociable, as I now want to chat to people more and be curious about them. I’ve learnt loads about my surrounding area and things that are going on, just from speaking to people as I go for a walk along the river during the day.

As a being, we are made up of a small amount of matter. Each cell in our body is mostly a liquid jelly substance, water and energy are mostly what we are made up of. It makes so much sense to then start to pay attention to our energy and positive vibrations. If we are being judgmental, we are then being negative and that emits a flat, dull energy. When we are open, curious and enthusiastic, it means we are vibrating at a much higher frequency. This is not only felt by us, but by everyone around us.

We need to learn to be more open, there is so much we don’t know. The universe is made up of so much dark matter, which we know so little about right now, we are still learning. The connection to ourselves, leads to better connections with others and the whole world around us. We should be prepared to be amazed, not stay in the trenches of what we think we know, and stay in our cycles of negative thoughts. Raising our consciousness means we can be open to learning and having new experiences. I’m aware this is a very big journey, but I’m up for starting it and I’m excited about what comes next.

To read about the beginning of my journey with judgemental and negative thoughts, click here. If you’d like to start your own journey of exploring your judgemental thoughts, to learn how to begin observing, we created a resource to help you. Our Body Work Course, will take you through step-by-step, so you can begin to learn so much more about you and your body, you can find the course here.

A flower in a hand Featured

Mental health needs more than just a week

Last week was mental health awareness week, but the conversation shouldn’t just stop there, awareness needs to be raised all the time. It’s great that mental health is being given a platform, but things around this subject are slow to change in ordinary, daily life. We all still feel the need to put on a brave face and this is especially true if we are in any position of authority or leadership. The pressure to be fine can be immense, often if we show a crack, people who depend upon us wobble. Sometimes there is an inference that we are not looking after ourselves properly, that we have let things slip if we dare say we are struggling. All of these things need to be discussed openly, honestly and with all the judgment taken out.

For most of us, when we feel overwhelmed, down or anxious, we want to withdraw, we don’t want to be seen. This is a protective measure and makes sense, as this can be helpful sometimes. However, if this is for a prolonged period of time, coming back out into society, work etc, can be really daunting. There is an element of this happening for a lot of us now with us coming out of lockdown and things opening back up. A lot of people are scared, if they haven’t been out for a long time amongst groups of people, it’s all very unfamiliar. Add that on top of all the new rules and regulations we are supposed to know about and follow, as if they are normal. It’s somehow not ok to be seen not having a clue how things work. If we feel as though we are coming out of hiding, the last thing we want is to be told off, shouted at, or called out in front of others. For this reason some people are avoiding getting back out there and staying inside instead. When we feel fearful, we get more hyper-vigilant and scan around for danger. We loose the ability to be curious, take in our surroundings and feel relaxed, this in turn increases our anxiety.

So what can we do?

Firstly, we need to start connecting with things again, opening up our curiosity and feeling a part of things. The theme of this years awareness week was nature, which is brilliant, especially as its spring time and all the trees and plants are emerging, just as we are. Nature gives us the perfect opportunity to be curious, engage our senses, and feel involved. We always know what we will get with nature, it’s not unpredictable or hard to read, unlike the way humans can be. It can really help us to become more mindful in a very relaxed way, by just taking notice of what’s around us. When we plant things and watch them grow we feel involved in the process. We plant the seeds, we water them, and we watch them emerge and grow. We have to nurture them to keep them alive and we feel responsible for them. Planting cress seeds on damp kitchen roll is one of the quickest ways to do this, they begin growing so quickly. When we go out for a walk or into the garden, we can really notice the leaves growing and changing. We can feel them, smell them and notice the difference between the two sides. Touch things, notice textures and scents, listen to the rain falling, or notice the way the wind moves the trees. As you do this, notice the way you are breathing, let yourself really take in the connection, be curious about what feels good and how your body tells you this feels good.

If we practice being really present in nature, it can help our hyper-vigilance stay under control, if we can always find something to focus on, to really allow our awareness to be engaged, it is settling for our nervous system. We can use these skills when we go out amongst people, instead of worrying what might happen, focusing on what is actually around us right now. When we learn to be observant, it can help us feel less like a rabbit in the headlights and more of a part of what’s happening.

We do need a bit of a retraining programme but it’s so important that we connect back with people, isolation is so damaging to us and has a dramatic impact upon our mental health. If we are going to be more aware, then we have to be able to communicate with each other. None of us will open up or reach out if we don’t feel safe, we have to be able to smile at each other, let the people around us know we are there and we are approachable. The more we can make going outside a pleasant experience, the easier it will be for those who feel scared or nervous. Just making the effort to smile at people we interact with helps us and helps them. Smiling is very underrated, it’s more tricky in a mask but people can see the smile in our eyes. If we bear in mind that there are nervous people around us, pretending to be fine, we might remember to smile more and be open to engagement, it might make a huge difference to someone’s day.