Do you live your life with a flick of the wrist and roll the dice hoping for a better turn of events?
Living each day in the same way. Today the same as yesterday. Tomorrow the same as today. The same way you lived the day before. And the day before that!
Oh yes, there will be the odd deviation.
Maybe not switch on the TV for background sound, and listen to the early morning bird song.
Use soya milk in your cereal because today is the first day of a healthy eating plan. Which you might be lucky if you last a week. Perhaps three days tops!
The joker in your life is watching for you to make that change you would like to make and allows you a bit of freedom, before sticking its nose in and pulling you right back into the prison of no-change.
We believe we are free. We have no bars on our windows. There’s no locks we can’t open.
When was the last time you tried to break free and change your thoughts? Your beliefs. Your emotions. Your job. Your existence.
You tried to make a life of joy, excitement and happiness. So what’s stopping you?
Well, it’s now known that our ancient ways of survival may just be the reason why we live a life that in fact doesn’t allow us to thrive. 1
Our brains are still in the land of our ancestors, the Neanderthal. Where saber-toothed tigers roamed Europe.2 And woolly mammoth wandered around the tundra.3 That time when it was necessary to be on constant patrol, ever watchful as danger lurked in dark caves, forests and gullies.
In this position of awareness, the body was in constant alert mode. Checking the land for signs of predatory animal or bird that was a threat to survival.
Our ancestors at this time mostly lived in caves. This was not only for warmth and shelter from the biting winds and cold winters but caves also provided a safe house from predators. There was only one entrance which could be guarded with relative ease.
Today we live in constant fear. Our saber-toothed tiger is the boss. The postman bringing bills we can not pay. Social media platforms informing us that our “friends” are living a better and happier life than us4. The husband, the wife, the children, the mother-in-law and the dog!
So, what can we do about all this STRESS? To understand what stress is is half the problem solved.
Stress actually is pretty good for you! It’s the way we handle it that becomes the problem. Think about the way the Neanderthals dealt with stress. Well actually, there was no such thing as Stress in the Neanderthals time, at least not like how we use the word today. (In 1932 Walter Cannon coined the word “stress” in connection with our survival instincts to fight, flee or freeze in response to danger.5)
So back to the Neanderthal guys and gals. There they are busy doing what Neanderthal did at the time. They saw a saber-toothed tiger. Maybe they stood still and pretended to be a tree! Or maybe were daft enough to fight the beast. Or most likely, they ran. Who knows, I’m pleased to say I didn’t live in that time
But their body’s response then was exactly how we react to danger today.
Bit different in the predator slot, as we don’t have saber-toothed tigers roaming the UK these days. But, we do have perceived dangers. The boss. Missing the train. The guy who cut in front of us in the Post office queue! The News. Your favourite football club losing again! All very real dangers to the human body!
What can you do to minimise your stress response?
My first response in a situation that gets me riled up is to be conscious of my breathing. I breathe in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5.
I keep doing this until I feel more in control of my feelings. I also relax the muscles around my eyes, looking straight ahead and slightly raised. I allow my eyes to take in my peripheral vision (what I see at the sides of my vision). My breath is gentle and easy.
Using these tactics takes the body from “danger is present” mode to “it’s OK, all is well” mode.
Simple and very effective.
Mindfulness-Based Inner RePatterning uses this method to calm the mind and help give clarity to a situation.
- Coping skills 4 kids
- Live Science
- The telegraph
- Psych Central