Why Are You Acting Against Yourself.
How many times have you wanted to work on the project? But instead, you stare at your laptop for hours and then start criticising yourself. Saying here we go again. I don’t do the work I should do.
How many times have you wanted to go for a run? But you didn’t feel like putting your shoes on. Then you get into a bad mood, punishing yourself for skipping your training.
Acting Against Yourself Starts From Changes In Mood And Energy.
We all go through rises and falls of our mood and energy. One minute we feel great and engaged in our life. Then something subtle happens, and we start feeling anxious and stressed.
Life is starting to overwhelm us. We have tons of responsibilities. But not enough time to fulfil those responsibilities.
Those moments sometimes seem to come out of the blue. But the truth is that underlying processes are going on in the background of our minds leading us to it.
Underlying Processes In Our Mind Leading You To Acting Against Yourself.
In Why Do We Feel Anxiety, Stress And Overwhelm, we discussed that in the fight-flight-freeze response, when our mind senses interior or exterior danger, our body tightens, gets into full alert, and sometimes doesn’t switch off. Holding us in feeling anxiety, stress and overwhelm.
When we get into the fight-flight-freeze response, something more is happening in the background; the mind starts dwelling on the past, searching in our memories, and trying to find something that will explain why we feel the way we feel.
When we sense that we are in danger or stressed, our mind brings back the memories of when we felt the same way and then creates scenarios of what may happen in the future.
I’m sure you will recognize many times like this when you find yourself feeling restless. Reflecting on the past or worrying about the future for no reason.
Your brain gets triggered not only by the current threat but also by past painful memories and future worries. This happens automatically in our subconscious before we are even aware of it.
As Danny Penman and Mark Williams explain in Mindfulness – A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, people who have difficulties living in the present moment – stay on high alert all the time.
When humans bring to mind current scenarios, past losses and future worries, our fight-flight-freeze system does not switch off even when the danger passes.
How we respond to temporary and non-problematic emotions can lead to long-term anxiety, stress and overwhelm.
Long story short, our minds can end up making things far worse than they are.
Our Minds Is Familiarity-Seeking Machine.
Not only this. Dr Nicole LePera in her book How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self, explains that our minds are familiarity-seeking machines. What is familiar – feels safe.
If we get used to feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed, it may become a familiar feeling for us.
And ironically, it might be perceived as safe. So our minds will keep directing us back to what is safe and familiar.
It will connect current feelings of stress and anxiety with older patterns of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and behaviour from the past.
This is how the past can have a profound impact on our present. If we activate one emotional trigger, the other may follow behind.
We may think that what is happening in our lives today has nothing to do with what has happened in the past. But it does.
Because part of the pattern we repeat now activates the wave of negative emotions from the past. We know that’s not productive. But somehow, we can’t stop it.
And even though we didn’t want to. We keep finding ourselves in the same situation or emotional state.
Over time those negative thoughts and moods become more integrated with us and can be so easy triggered that you may not even be aware of what triggers them.
Getting Stuck In Bad Habits.
I’m sure that this scenario is very familiar to many of us.
You decided to change your life and join a gym. Set a new healthy diet for yourself, and stop scrolling through social media for hours. You are determined to handle it this time and change your life.
You follow the plan, but a couple of weeks later started feeling resistant, skipping your gym.
And again, begin comparing yourself with social media influencers whose life seems to be perfect. And here we go, the anxiety, stress and overwhelm crept back into your life.
You are stuck in bad habits, problematic patterns and damaging behaviour. You feel ashamed, lonely and disconnected because you didn’t manage again to sustain change.
Then you start asking the question: What is wrong with me? Why do I keep doing the same things again and again? Why I can’t change?
But the problem is that when we focus on answering this question, we push ourselves even more into a feeling of unhappiness, anxiety, stress and overwhelm.
Making Changes Means Doing Work Day By Day.
Change is not easy. It can be overwhelming. We have learned that our mind is a familiarity-seeking machine, which means that change is viewed as a threat. So it can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
You have to let go of a part of yourself to make room for the birth of a new self. There is no magic formula, quick fix, or shortcut. Making changes means doing work day by day.