Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain
is a wonderfully inspiring quote by Vivian Greene and so true.
How many times have you said you are going to do something when …. (perhaps it’s the children are at school, or they’re at secondary school, or they’ve left home etc) or you put something off until tomorrow.
Maybe it’s a big life changing experience, I wonder if it’s leaving your stressful, but boring dead end job and make that leap to starting your own business, becoming self employed or just something else you’ve been longing for.
It can be scary stepping out of your comfort zone – actually, I’m going to rephrase that, it is always scary stepping out of your comfort zone, but it is also incredibly exciting and which of those two perspectives wins the argument is completely down to your thought patterns. You can choose to look at the excitement in starting a new chapter and heading off into the unknown, being the intrepid explorer in your own lunch box and going where you haven’t been before or you can choose to focus on everything that might go wrong and you can set your imagination on conjuring up the boogy men and scare yourself out of living life to the full.
It’s important to remember that your mind does not know the difference between imagination and reality, so whichever way you choose to use your imagination will directly affect your feelings and behaviour because your brain will believe it’s true. So imaging all the things which could possibly go wrong and your brain will believe you and do everything in its power to stop you doing it, but imagine how you would like things to be, without the baggage of what might go wrong, and your mind will set you on the path to your exciting future.
Imaging everything which could to wrong, when practiced and perfected can, unfortunately lead to anxiety or depression. People who consistently and constantly negatively forecast along the lines of “there’s no point doing that, it will never happen for me” or “by the time I’ve finished I will be too …. (old, tired, missed the boat – insert excuse of your choice)” ” I can’t because …” or any similar thought patterns designed to put off or delay the action in the first place, could sadly have a tendency to slip down the miserable end of the scale into depression. They constantly put things off to an imaginary better time and justify the procrastination with an ‘it’s not the right time’ excuse. These are the people waiting for the storm to pass or just plain old too scared to step out of their comfort zone – after all they survived by doing what they did yesterday, so they will survive another day doing the same old things. The problem is, this is just surviving or existing – I know that I would prefer to live not just exist and that means pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone to find new exciting aspects to life.
There is also a very real physiological problem we create with this type of negative forecasting and serial procrastination and that’s how we effect the hormones and neurotransmitters we produce. How we think directly influences these vital chemicals in our bodies and minds and one of the most important of the neurotransmitters we influence in this way is serotonin. Amongst other things serotonin helps us cope, it motivates us, it makes us braver an helps us cope with physical fear, it boost our immune system and helps us cope with pain.
Take two of those – ‘motivates’ and ‘makes us braver’ – two specific attributes we need to step out of our comfort zone of daily grind and make the changes we need or want to make.
So how do we get more of this wonder neurotransmitter? Well that’s actually pretty easy:-
- Doing stuff, achieving things for a start, no matter how small, even if it’s just opening the post and dealing with it or getting out of bed before lunch time, mending the tap or phoning a plumber instead of just looking at it saying to yourself you must do something about it, or best of all, getting out and doing some exercise – all positive activity
- Seeing people. We are tribal, we are supposed to live in communities, we are best when we interact with other humans. We don’t have any great natural defences, we don’t taste nasty (not that I know of anyway), we’re not poisonous, we’re not covered in spiky things and, quite frankly, we can’t run very fast – our best defence is in our numbers, just like herding animals. So we are better when we are with other people – positive interaction
- Taking control of how we think and thinking in a positive way, working out what we can do, what we want to do and deciding how we want to feel – yes, I did say we can decide how to feel today and any day. We can think “I feel miserable” and guess what? you’re going to feel miserable, or you can tell yourself today I’m going to feel ‘motivated’, ‘inspired’, ‘creative’, ‘proactive’, ’empowered’, ‘valued’, ‘loved’ – the list is endless, the point is we CAN decide how to feel by thinking it.
Who’s thinking right now “yes, but if I feel fed up, I feel fed up, you can’t change that” – YES YOU CAN, by thinking about feeling fed up, you’re focussing on those feelings and you are giving yourself an instruction – just try it the opposite way. If you haven’t had much practice with all the positive feelings it might take a bit of commitment and practice, but look how good you are at deciding to feel miserable and I bet, if you’re good at it, it’s because you’ve had a lot of practice. So practice the lovely positive feelings and have an experiment with yourself with what you can achieve – positive thinking.
The wonderful things is when you even just try and start practicing the positive activity, positive interaction and positive thinking, you create a little bit of serotonin and because this is the feel good neurotransmitter that motivates, it will encourage you to do it again and hey presto, you do a little more and create a little more serotonin and feel like doing more – amazing isn’t it? and also easy.
As people develop more and more serious depression they slide down a miserable helta skelta because the less they do, the less serotonin they create, so they don’t feel happy or feel like doing anything, so they put things off, they procrastinate, they can’t be bothered to see people and they think negative thoughts instructing our brain not to do things because it will never work out for them. They don’t create the neurotransmitters to motivate themselves, so they don’t do anything and so on.
They make excuses to put things off, “I’ll do it when……” It is within all our power and control to turn that on it’s head and take the necessary step to working towards our goals, of course we can’t always make things happen as instantly as we would like, but even working towards a goal can be as enjoyable as the goal itself once we have stepped onto the path and we can do this any time we want to.
It’s important to remember that it is our responsibility – each and every one of us, our life isn’t someone else’s fault, no one else is to blame, take responsibility for how you are dealing with it an step up and learn how to dance in the rain.