Mindfulness – and The Princess Bride?
Have you noticed how often kids say they don’t want to go somewhere that they love? Last week they played with their friends, had a great game, a great experience but when they’re on the couch playing a game on their tablet and you say “It’s Time To Go!” They grumble, resist, or pretend they didn’t hear you.
Then when you finally get them there, they have a great time again! (Eye roll at the whining and flouncing that happened when you finally got them on their feet and moving in the general direction of the car.)
We all (humans that is) have a way of focussing on the negative, and minimising the positive. It’s a survival thing. If we know and remember that we sank up to our chest in a stinky bog, we will remember next time and avoid it. (Makes sense, imagine forgetting that sabre-toothed tigers bite?!)
Without purposefully recalling a small positive event or re-telling a negative story in a positive way we often forget that something is a Good Thing.
That’s where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness gives us the chance to really appreciate an event, a person or an experience. It’s a chance to consciously focus on something, on purpose, and choose to think positively about it. Like decluttering (snuck that in!)
It’s about noticing, noticing how we feel, our emotions or our senses. It’s about noticing our immediate environment. Pointing out sensations and beautiful things and different perspectives to ourselves and to our children.
And we can use mindfulness to catch ourselves telling negative stories. I often have arguments with myself and point out (to myself) that there are different ways of looking at what ever I’m fretting over in the moment.
Storytelling just comes naturally to kids, they absolutely love it when we read to them or tell them the story of the day they were born. Humans love stories full stop! Fairy tales, the Bible, even Coronation Street are all about telling stories.
We’re also very critical thinkers, especially about ourselves. Women especially are trained by society to think critically about themselves. The way we look and the way we behave is judged from birth by everyone around us.
When you’re driving back from daycare or kindy and your kids tell you the stories of their day, they’re creating a memory of their experiences. Sometimes of course it involves real-life dinosaurs, magical unicorns and teachers turning into REAL WITCHES.
Catching ourselves telling critical, negative stories about ourselves or something that’s happened to us and turning it around is a good way to retrain our brains to think more positively. Re-telling stories on purpose reframes an experience in our minds, and our kids minds.
The Corona virus is a really good example. We can project a more positive story into the future to minimise worry.
- Find sensible, factual information and compare similar historical events with today’s advanced communication and healthcare.
- Reinforce that younger healthy people are ok.
- Remember that the reason we need to be careful with hand washing and staying away from crowds is to protect the people who ARE vulnerable.
- Explain that it will be over soon. It seems to go on and on but every pandemic in the world has peaked and slowed, and stopped.
The movie in your head.
We forget that we have a script for the movie of our life running through our minds. It’s the original bunch of stories that we were told when we were young about who we were, are and always will be. It’s layers of stories, including the stories that we told ourselves about things that happened.
For some people their script feels like it’s carved in stone. Others have such a fluid script that their lives are a constant adventure. Most of us are somewhere in between. The best bit though?
We can change our script any time we want. (unfortunately we can’t fast forward and see what happens at the end!) We can make it a script that tells the story of our best, happy selves.
I’m not saying it’s easy. I can feel my brain resisting certain things that I know I should do and it takes AGES to slowly adjust my concept of what I can do. Like making videos for example. My brain (which is pretty quick on the uptake in most cases) goes… Uhhhhh wut?
The concept that I could do that, and that anyone would actually want to watch them was so far from the script that I had in my head that it’s almost Inconceivable (that word always makes me think of The Princess Bride movie). – There’s the mention!
But a little bit at a time, we can make additions and edit and erase the bits we want to change in our script – the way we think we can be in this life.
By doing new things that scare us and thinking and making new habits. Being aware of ourselves and our automatic behaviours and reactions. Working out if they serve us, help us reach our dreams and goals and create the life we want.
And the best bit? If they don’t, we can change them. We have control over our script. It is never set in stone.
PS: Yep, she’s a long blog this one. I hope you grabbed a cuppa at the start.
PPS: There are people, programs and books out there that can help us on our path to being happier and speed it up a lot. It’s worth investigating.
PPPS: Want to video chat with The Tidy Lady? (look down a bit ⇣)