It’s Monday morning and I wake up feeling exhausted. My mind has been racing all night with a rumination of anxious and negative thoughts. I have a heavy feeling in my heart and a deep-seated sense of dread for what the day ahead will bring. As I get up out of bed with an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach I can already feel my heart start to beat a little faster and my mind race a little quicker. These are all physical symptoms of anxiety and of recent what feels like an all too familiar anxious cloud above my head.
I think back to when I was younger and I realise that these thoughts and feelings have always been something I have struggled with. I remember having an intense fear of being sick and simple things like going to a friend’s house after school or going on a school trip would evoke a heavy sensation of dread and nausea. My mind would be constantly fuelled by worry and panic. It is only in my adult life that I have been able to recognise these feelings.
The more these physical and emotional feelings persist the more I find myself asking why? Why am I feeling like this? What’s wrong with me? Will I always feel this way? I notice a strong resistance towards my feelings and this resistance and panic intensifies my anxiety further. All of these negative thought processes mean that I stray from the present moment. It is through therapy that I have realised the importance of trying to accept my feelings rather than fight against them. So instead of being overwhelmed by them I try to sit with them. This isn’t always an easy thing to do but I focus on engaging my mind in the here and now and tell myself that these emotions will pass. I let the panicked feelings come and go and sure enough over time they lessen. Something that therapy has taught me is that when we have an awareness of our thoughts and feelings we are better able to manage them rather than be controlled and led by them. Labelling emotions and talking through how you are feeling can really help.
“To offer no resistance in life is to be in a state of ease, and lightness” Eckhart Tolle
As I sit on the over crowded tube that morning I look around me and all I can see is people with their heads in their phones, franticly sending emails or scrolling through their news feed on Facebook. I see no smiles, no verbal communication, just what I perceive to be tired, worried, unhappy looking people. It is in this moment I ask myself what is it in life that makes us happy? What are all striving for? What are we trying to achieve? Is it a bigger house, more money, a new pair shoes, a promotion at work, 100 likes on our Facebook profile picture?
We constantly look to our external environment in the pursuit of happiness but will this actually ever make us happy and fulfilled? Something that I have learnt over the last few years is that true happiness comes from within. Happiness cannot be travelled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed but it is the experience of living every minute with love, appreciation and gratitude. Happiness should not be the destination but part of the journey.
It’s a busy world and we are constantly trying to do multiple things at once, always in a rush to accomplish necessary tasks and it is all too easy to lose our connection with the present moment. We often haphazardly stray from one thought to another with the wheels of our mind spinning continuously with no traction, spending too much time attaching ourselves to the regrets of yesterday and the worries of tomorrow, which can be extremely destructive. How often do we actually take the time to stop, reflect and appreciate the good things in our lives?
“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” Lao Tzu
One thing I believe to be of great importance in life is gratitude. To be thankful for this moment, right here, right now because everything else in life is uncertain. As I reflect whilst sat on the busy tube carriage I realise that this morning when I woke up I wasn’t present, I was caught up in negative thought patterns and I was worrying about things that were out of my control.
“Stress is caused by being here but wanting to be there” Eckhart Tolle
I didn’t take time to be thankful, to be grateful for the people I love, my health, the ability to get out of bed and look outside and see the sun. By giving gratitude, noticing simple pleasures and acknowledging everything we receive we are able to shift our focus from what our life lacks to the abundance that is already present. No matter what is happening in our lives there is always something to be thankful for. Life can be hard, and we will all experience difficult times but it is the tough times that make us appreciate just how special the good times are. Falling down is part of life but it is getting back up that is living. I always try to remember that our situation is never permanent, nothing lasts forever, even our emotions.
It is important to accept the uncertainty, open up and talk to someone when things seem a bit too much and believe that despite how hopeless things may feel, you are still there, temporarily clouded, but there, and as long as you have hope that things will get better you have everything.
“At the end of the day, all you need is hope and strength. Hope that it will get better and strength to hold on until it does” Unknown