Category Archives: Feelings

Mindfulness in Val Gardena

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I was tired. It was early in the morning, and my fingers were already numb with the cold. It was even snowing inside the cable car. I glared at the other people in their ugly ski clothing, who had pushed me on their way into our car, the first one, to reach the top before anyone else. It was the third day of our ski trip in Italy, and I was irritated. By everything.

It hit me then, how wrong this was. It was supposed to be my mindful month. I was supposed to enjoy each moment. And there I was, sulking away, for no substantial reason. So, I made a simple decision. I was not going to let my stress and bad mood ruin the rest of the trip. From now on, I would enjoy it. I turned my mind away from the other people, and watched the small, perfectly formed snowflakes that fell onto my jacket. I watched them melt. And slowly, I calmed down.

By the time we reached the top, my irritation was gone. When I saw the view, I didn’t mind the other people anymore. Their pushing was justified. How could you not want to struggle a bit for this? To get the first ride down these perfectly soft, newly pisted ski slopes. That morning, I had the best skiing of my life.

When I chose to savour things instead of letting them get on my nerves, there was suddenly so much to enjoy. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sun for a while, instead of getting irritated by the fact that I had to wait so long for my grandmother at the end of each slope. I sat back and enjoyed the beautiful British accent of the guys in the same chair lift, instead of grumbling about the cold wind in my face. I enjoyed four days of skiing with a newfound friend from the same coach journey, who suddenly started to talk to me, probably because I looked more friendly and open when I wasn’t angry. And when everyone else started to complain that the food wasn’t as good as it used to be, I kept quiet and enjoyed tasting new things.

I also noticed than when I was skiing more mindfully, I was less scared. When I was fourteen, I collided with another skier, and ever since, I have been a bit afraid. However, when I started to pay more attention to what I was doing, to the sound of the snow beneath my skis and the structure of the slope and the shapes that was formed by me and the other skiers, I had so much more control over the situation. I had time to choose my path and avoid risks, and for once, I could ski fast and without fear – even in the black slopes.

Sometimes bad things happen, things that provoke feelings that you cannot, and should not, control. But in everyday life situations, you always have a choice. You can choose where to put your energy, what to focus on and what to ignore.

In that cable car in the Alps of Italy, I chose to be happy. And suddenly I was.

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Filed under Attention, Fear, Feelings, Letting go, Mind, Mindfulness, Miranda, Physical exercise, Traveling, Uncategorized

Miranda’s eighth month: Mindfulness

Apart from catching a cold a few days ago, I think my wellbeing month went okay. I spent two weeks visiting my dad in France, and although I had to spend most of my time working or studying, I went for several really long walks and a 30 km bike tour. The time away from home also helped me to form some healthier sleeping habits, which has made it a lot easier to tackle everyday stress and lack of motivation.

However, I do have some problem staying positive and focused and getting things done in the pace I need to. I have so many things I have to do, and even more things I want to do, but instead of keeping me motivated, this never-ending to-do list sometimes makes me unmotivated and unable to start or finish anything. I just go numb and end up wasting my time doing absolutely nothing.

This month, my aim is to be more mindful. To focus on one thing at the time. To get things done, and enjoy the process. To meditate (which is the one goal from last month I completely failed to do). And as pretentious as it may sound, I want to find the beauty in each moment. To savour even the smallest of things.

To live, and notice it.

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Filed under Feelings, Goals, Meditation, Mindfulness, Miranda, Wellbeing

Miranda’s third month: Love

Despite the success of last month’s project, there was one drawback. There is a distinction between self-confidence and self-esteem, and my intention was to work with both last month. However, I was so busy tackling challenges that I forgot about the second part. I do feel better about myself, when it comes to achievements, but I still doubt myself when it comes to just being me. I still feel bad about my appearance, I’m still scared that l’m not good enough and I still stay quiet because I’m afraid people (even my boyfriend) will find me weird or stupid. Conveniently, the focus area of this month is Love. Thus, I’ve decided to focus not only on my relationship, but also on appreciating myself more.

I fear this will be another ridiculously long post, but these are probably my most difficult challenges so far, and I think I need to make things very clear for myself. Anyway, these are my goals for October:

 – Give space
I’ve been terrible at giving space. Not intentionally. I just haven’t realised how important it is for a relationship, probably because, as I mentioned in my last post, my boyfriend has been my life for the last few years. I haven’t had any friends that I’d rather hang out with or a band that I need to spend time with alone. I’ve only had him. So I haven’t realised how trapped my boyfriend has felt, because I’m always there, feeling left out whenever he forgets about me. The last six months up until September were extreme, because he didn’t work and I studied from home, so we were together more or less constantly, getting on each other’s nerves. Besides, because I always worry too much, I tend to contact him too much when we’re not together. He, on the other hand, is terrible at answering texts and calling me back, which only causes me to worry even more. Last month, however, when one of my many challenges was to let him contact me, I noticed that as soon as I kept my hands off my phone, he started calling me and sending random text asking what I was doing. It was such a relief to see that he actually wanted to speak to me, I just had to give him some space. It’s not always easy, but I will keep letting him contact me this month, unless I really need to ask something. I will also keep developing my own social life, so I won’t have to depend on him all the time.

The hardest part of this goal, and something I have dreaded for several months, is the fact that my boyfriend is going on a European tour with his band for ten days this month. That is actually the main reason why I chose to focus on Love during October, because I knew this would be such a huge challenge for me. To not feel jealous or terrified that he’ll do something stupid. To not contact him all the time to make sure that he still loves me and that nothing has happened to him. But after last month, I think I can do it. It will probably be the greatest challenge since we met, but for both our sakes I need to give him that space, show him that trust and be happy for his sake. If I’d ever get to tour with a band I would want him to do that for me. And if I make it through those ten days without freaking out, I think I will be able to do anything.

– Be honest
I played truth or dare with some girlfriends last weekend and one of us had to answer what was the most important quality of a partner. It turned into quite a discussion but I think everyone agreed upon honesty. If you can’t trust someone, that what else about him matters? My boyfriend is very honest and although I tend to forget that when I get anxious, it’s one of the things I like the most about him. I also try to be honest, and that’s lucky, because I’m a terrible liar. Sometimes, though, when I feel bad or sad or scared or jealous for some reason, I just can’t tell my boyfriend about it. I’m not sure why. I’m probably just scared it will lead to a fight and that he’ll hate me. So, I stay quiet, or say that it’s nothing or that I don’t want to talk about it. And he hates that, of course, because he feels shut out and lied to. He’s told me to stop doing it several times. He’s even presented me with an ultimatum. And still I keep doing it. I know this has to stop. It’s not that I always need to tell him everything. But I can’t start crying or sulk for a whole evening and then tell him it’s nothing. I’ve told myself so many times that I have two choices: either tell him or let it go. I don’t know what else to do but keep reminding myself. And be aware of it.

 – Be kind
This is quite simple: nag less and appreciate more.

 – Give (and appreciate) proofs of love
My boyfriend is not very romantic, and sometimes that makes me a bit disappointed. He does give me proofs of love, probably more often than I realise, but because I’m so bad at remembering the good things in life, they tend to slip by unnoticed. I want to get better at appreciating all the small things he does for me, and be able to show what I feel without expecting a heap of red roses in return. In a week, it will be two years since the first time we kissed. It’s a silly thing that you wouldn’t expect any guy to remember. So, I’ve decided to do something romantic for him then, just because it’s important to me and because I want to let him know how much he means to me.

 – Love yourself
Actually, I can’t really imagine how difficult it would be to live with someone who would deny any compliment you give them, who wouldn’t trust you no matter what you did, and who would be terrified you’d leave them no matter what you said. I’ve always been like that, but I need to stop. Now. For his sake. And for my own sake. If I felt that I was good enough, I wouldn’t have to be so anxious or jealous or scared. Life would be so much easier. I’m not quite sure how to do it, though. If I was, I would probably have changed a long time ago. But I will keep writing down good things about myself, and not just achievements, but things that are good about who I am. And I will make an honest attempt to appreciate compliments and exchange my negative thoughts with positive ones. Even if I don’t always believe them.

P.S. If anyone has made it through this post, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think are the most important aspect to focus on in a relationship? Which is the best way to learn to be more open about your feelings? And can you learn to love yourself?

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Filed under Challenge, Fear, Feelings, Giving space, Goals, Honesty, Love, Miranda, Relationships, Self-esteem

Facing my fear

I’m waiting at the university library. In an hour my first real introductory meeting in two years of studies will begin, and for the first time in a very long time, I’m not anxious about stepping into a classroom. There are a few butterflies in my stomach, but the panic that made me run from lessons in high school is gone. I was actually surprised to wake up so calm this morning. In an hour my butterflies may have become a bit wilder, but I will not let them stop me anymore. I will take a seat in the front of the classroom instead of in a corner at the back as I used to, and I will look into other people’s eyes and smile instead of staring at my desk. This time everything will be different, and so much better than before.

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Filed under Challenge, Fear, Feelings, Social anxiety

Recognise it, pause, breathe and deal with it (part I)

It is suddenly Sunday evening and I’ve spent the last few hours finishing my homework, slightly nauseous from wearing glasses for the first time in my life. Unlike Titania’s, my first week has been far from smooth. For various reasons I haven’t had the time or focus to keep up with my habits very well. I’ll try my best to get properly started with the project next week. However, the obstructive events of this week really made me see how important some areas of this project will be for me, especially the next two months, when I will focus on Confidence and Love. Swindling on the edge of disaster a few days ago, I truly realised how much my boyfriend and our relationship means to me, and how great an effort I am willing to make to improve it. I have also come up with a strategy that I think will be especially useful during these next two months.

When I was 17 years old, I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. I had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for some time, until my therapist finally decided it didn’t help enough and prescribed antidepressants instead, which I never took (which I am tremendously thankful for today). I graduated from high school shortly afterwards, and since my biggest problem was related to classrooms, I managed to break the worst of my vicious circles on my own. The last few years I have developed a lot as a person, and I’m not even sure my social problems would count as a disorder anymore. Although I’m still scared of social situations I don’t run away from most of them anymore.

But this doesn’t mean I’m done working with my behaviour and myself. Two nights ago, I think I had the worst row of my life, and it was to a large extent caused by my insecurity. It came down to an ultimatum. Or well, I managed to play down his “leave and never come back” and promised to pull myself together, to quit being scared and insecure, to quit over-analysing things, and to let him be himself. Easy to say, hard to do, but for his, ours, and perhaps especially my own sake, I really must do this. Yesterday, I took a long walk with my mother and figured out a strategy to help me focus and remember what I need to do to work this out.

I believe the most difficult aspect of personal development in general is remembering all the things you need to remember to be able to change. When behaviours don’t come naturally you have to start doing them consciously, and when there is a heap of different behaviours you need to learn, it gets complicated. Take a conversation with a person you’re not totally comfortable with yet, for example. To have a normal conversation I would need to keep telling myself to keep eye contact, ask follow-up questions, say more than yes or no, stop picking at my nails instead of listening, and so on…

In the case of my relationship there are a lot of things I need to remember in order to change my behaviour for the better. To make things simpler, I have identified five things that affect my relationship badly, and that I really need to work with: fear, anxiety, jealousy, sulkiness and insecurity. When I’m scared I avoid things, like being myself at a party or telling my boyfriend what the matter is. When I’m anxious I try to keep control of everything (read: him). When I’m jealous I get sulky and feel anxious and insecure, when I’m sulky I ruin the mood, and when I’m insecure, being myself becomes even harder. It’s a vicious circle of destructive feelings that lead to no good at all. The good thing about these five feelings is that they are all quite easily recognisable. So what I need to do, to prevent these feelings from choking our relationship, is recognise them, pause, breathe and then deal with them.

If I can learn to follow this strategy, I think I will be able to deal with a large amount of different difficult situations by just remembering these four feelings and the right ways to deal with them. And which the right ways could be, I will figure out and write about in another post, because now it’s time to step away from the computer and do my back exercises. And tomorrow I’ll go running. The times they are a-changing, but I’m honestly happy, even in the middle of this chaos.

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Filed under Feelings, Mind, Miranda, Personal development, Relationships, Social anxiety