- Change the Narrative
We often ruminate, replaying and reliving events over and over in our heads. We think we’ll find some understanding we initially missed, but the truth is, it’s just keeping the wound open and we re-traumatize ourselves. We don’t grow and we don’t heal. The practice of expressive writing helps us to release that which clogs and clouds our heads, allowing for necessary insights to come to the forefront. Researchers believe that when we’re forced to confront ideas one by one, instead of them swirling incessantly, we gain new perspectives, can create a new narrative, and gain a sense of control. Studies showed people who practiced expressive writing several times per week were much happier and healthier within six weeks, and maintained this optimism when practiced regularly.
2. Face Your Fears
The best way to overcome our fears is to face them slowly, in small instances, several times until the edge starts to soften. Think of it as the same conditioning Pavlov trained in his dogs – we need to train ourselves to react differently, to expect a different outcome. When we change our behaviour once and then repeat, our behaviour changes, and becomes a new normal. Mindful meditation is a perfect way to practice, in 30 minute classes, to slowly relax the responses we wish to change within ourselves.
3. Practice Self-Compassion
Every single person suffers. We are all human, and the difficulties we feel and experience are not unique to us. So, recognizing this fact gives us permission to be easy on ourselves – to show ourselves the compassion we need and wish we could receive from others. We cannot show others what we cannot first show ourselves. Mindful self-compassion lowers depression, anxiety, and stress, and a guided meditation is the perfect way to receive the permission we need (from the teacher, who is creating space for us) to show ourselves this compassion.
4. Practice Mindful Breathing
There is nothing we can do about the past in this moment. There is nothing we can do about the future in this moment. We are here, right now, and need to release anxiety or pain we feel about either the past or the future. This is easier said than done, which is why it’s important to practice returning to your breath when you begin to feel overwhelmed. Mindful breathing slows our fight-or-flight reaction in the brain, slowing the hormones such as cortisol from flooding our systems and aggravating our state of mind. Breathe, and release.
5. Cultivate Forgiveness
A lot of people struggle with forgiveness, because we’ve been taught that it’s something that somehow absolves responsibility from someone who has hurt us. So instead, think of forgiveness as “I forgive myself for doing my best with …”, “I forgive myself for giving that person a second chance …”. Every part of our perception and experience begins and ends with us, so forgive yourself by acknowledging you did the best you were capable of at the time.