Do you abandon your goals when things in life don't go the way you had planned?
Maybe you feel overwhelmed and disheartened, you give up on exercise, stay up late comfort eating and binge watching Netflix. This is a common reaction and an unhealthy way of trying to tolerate uncomfortable feelings like a break up, losing your job or dealing with the loss of a loved one. This can very quickly spiral out of control, you start telling yourself that you're "just lazy" and "undisciplined" and before you know it you're further away from your goal then when you first committed to it!
The good news is that you're not "just lazy" or "undisciplined"!
If you were then you wouldn't be reading this. The truth is that you have a way of trying to cope with uncomfortable feelings that isn't working for you. Here are 3 skills you can use to get yourself back on track when things go wrong!
"Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is the freedom to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom". Viktor Frankl.
When you find yourself in an emotional state and reaching for the fridge door.
STOP! - Pause for a moment
TAKE A BREATH - Notice your breathing as you breathe in and out.
OBSERVE - What thoughts are going through your mind right now?
- Where is your focus?
- What are you reacting to?
- What sensations do you notice in your body?
PULL BACK -What's the bigger picture?
-Take a subjective view
- What is another way of looking at the situation?
- What advice would you give a friend?
- What would a trusted friend say to you right now?
- Is this a thought, fact or opinion?
- How important will this be in 6 months time?
- It will pass.
PRACTICE WHAT WORKS
- What is the best thing to do right now?
- What can I do that fits my values?
- Do what will be effective and appropriate.
2. RADICAL ACCEPTANCE
Sometimes problems can't be solved, Radical Acceptance is about being accepting of and not resisting situations and emotions that you have no control over.
It's exhausting to fight reality and it doesn't work, refusing to accept difficult situations presently or from the past doesn't change anything and only adds to the pain you're experiencing. Radical Acceptance can be a difficult process and no one wants to experience painful emotions, but these experiences are part of life and you're only creating more suffering by avoiding your feelings. Avoidance leads to destructive behaviours such as overeating, alcoholism, overworking and overspending. These behaviours help avoid pain in the short term but can lead to depression and anxiety in the long term.
Turn your resistive thoughts into accepting thoughts such as "It's okay to feel hurt and this feeling will pass" or "I'm not okay with what happened but I can't change it and this feeling will pass".
Notice how your intense emotions come and go like clouds in the summer sky, this leads us into number 3!
3. URGE SURFING
Urge surfing is a technique that can help with destructive impulses such as comfort eating and drinking.
Trying to fight cravings is like trying to block a waterfall, we end up drowning.
With Urge Surfing we step aside and watch the water, allowing the impulses to naturally flow.
Often people try to eliminate urges by distraction or trying to talk themselves out of it, often in an abusive way. Fighting an urge usually increases it and creates the illusion that it will continue to grow until you give in.
Suppressing a thought or feeling ultimately increases it. Urge Surfing is experiencing the changing nature of urges. Notice the thoughts that arise e.g. "I wish I could.." "I need…"
These thoughts are just thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your breath and notice the changing intensity of discomfort over time. Urges are impermanent, by facing them without judgement they pass instead of feeding them through resistance.
Urges will come back, however each time you ride it out it will become less intense and less frequent. Don't expect miracles overnight and don't beat yourself up if you give in, just keep practicing, try making it an experiment by timing how long it takes for an urge to subside!
All these skills require regular practice and the more you use them the more effective they become.
After some time, you will naturally start thinking in a way that will enable you to continue on with
your life and your goals even in times of emotional discomfort!
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.