There is a cycle to, or as Sammy Davies Jr put it a ‘Rhythm of life’ but, all too often that ‘rhythm’ can cause us to repeat patterns of negative, emotional behaviour(s) that fuse concepts and beliefs that, in turn, cause many to ‘feel’ overwhelmed, disillusioned with an increased sense of foreboding.
The Seasons provide an all too palpable sense of this ‘rhythm of life’. Autumn especially is a period change, the last rays of sunshine, leaves fall and the inevitability that ‘Winter’s Coming’. So as the evenings draw in, many of us will retreat further indoors, become more sedentary, put the heating on and eat more. This atypical behaviour closely relates to our primitive desire to survive and putting on some ‘winter weight’ is, for many, a survival behaviour that we rhythmically repeat at this time of year.
What if you didn’t do what you always do at this time of year, what would be different?
Consider these questions; What if you didn’t reach for the biscuits? What if you wrapped up and went out into the rain? What would be different for your life if you were not so overwhelmed?
What I am asking you to consider is a concept referred to as reframing. Reframing is a useful skill to have as it requires you to be present (aka mindful) and provides you with acknowledged context. Context is an essential element of reframing as it allows you to be objective without being critical, encouraging without being dictatorial, motivated without being obsessional.
Consider those adjectives for a moment; objective, encouraging and motivated. What type of words are they? These words are ‘kind words’ whereas critical, dictatorial and obsessional are ‘unkind words’. Consider the ramifications of the semantic here; when we use words that are kind we begin to ‘self sooth’, calm our thoughts (aka inner monologue) making this narrative kinder, enabling us to ‘defuse’ from those fused concepts and beliefs that cause many to feel overwhelmed, disillusioned with an increased sense of foreboding.
Know this; how we think influences how we feel and how we feel dictates how we behave. This, in essence, is the keystone to defusing from those fused concepts and beliefs that result in negative, emotional behaviours. How we think is the proverbial ‘horse’ we must put before the proverbial ‘cart’ that is how we feel. Ensuring we think first and feel second provides us with the opportunity to remain present, establish context and reframe what we must do next.
Reframing provides us with the opportunity to identify what we can do, rather than berate ourselves for what we cannot. There are many things we cannot change; a pandemic, a presidential election or the release date of the latest Bond movie. What we can do is get outdoors and experience Autumn in all its wonder regardless of the weather. We can wrap up warm, dig out the waterproof and go for a walk. We can take a flask, a towel and a dry warm jumper so that when we return to the car or bus we can steam up the windows as we experience our body’s temperature returning to normal.
We can also purchase and plant some snowdrops to (look forward) herald the arrival of Spring. We can schedule a Zoom Cluedo night with friends and family. We can choose to notice, savour and value the positives in our lives so that, by doing so, we become more able to defuse from those fused concepts and beliefs making us less overwhelmed.
By being less overwhelmed we have greater capacity to ‘be the change we want to see in the world’, providing us with a sense of agency in our lives to affect change in our lives. The more we celebrate these positive wins, the more we are learning to think more positively, the more we notice, savour and value that it is ‘you’ affecting these changes in your life then defusing (disrupting) the ‘rhythm of life’ and proverbially ‘dancing to your own tune’.
In defusing oneself from those fused concepts and beliefs, how we think becomes the catalyst for change within all of us. By thinking first and feeling second you are using the mind, the mind is working for you as opposed to you working for it.
Neurologically speaking when we think first and feel second, we engage our prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain that we do not share with any other animal on the planet, for good or bad depending on your point of view, it is what puts human beings at the ‘top of the evolutionary tree’.
Engaging the pre-frontal cortex is the metaphorical equivalent of selecting the right gear on a bike to climb a hill. If we cycle on regardless, our legs will eventually stall, causing the bike to role backwards before falling in a heap on the ground. It is the same for how we think. We must select the right positive thought, to manage our emotional response (feelings) and so deploy the right positive behaviour.
In managing our thoughts, feelings and behaviours more positively we can defuse from those fused concepts and beliefs and so live our best life.
Brett Rennolds is a qualified psychotherapist DSFH, HPD, MNCH NCH Supervisor and registered with the Complimentary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Brett specialises in a solution-focused approach, complimented by the principles of CBT, ACT, mental health first aid and hypnotherapy. He continues to provide therapy online, via an encrypted platform. For more information please visit his website.