A good habit unlocks further growth. A bad one gets you stuck in a rut. Thinking, being its own behavior, has its own habits. Neurologically, neurons that fire together, wire together. Fire enough times together and the connections between them begin to grow stronger.
These connections are not biased. They don’t care if you want to think positively. Habitually thinking in a sour manner will strengthen those connections involved. Overcoming those crippling thoughts is key to getting on the path to a happy lifestyle, and you know this, but how can you do so?
Under Your Radar
Now that I have you thinking about it, try to remember times during the day where you feel dread. What was going on during those times? Were you just waking up in the morning? Were you in your mid-day slump? Or did you just realize you had to get something extremely important done?
Most often these are the times where we feel exhausted. Our tired bodies yearn for sleep, rest, relaxation. Our schedule, however, has other plans.
That exhaustion masks our thinking. It’s like a veil over our perspective, making everything seem worse. This is your body telling you “Knock that crap off! I require sleep.” Finding ourselves fighting this, we try to cope. Coffee, 5-Hour Energy, Red Bull, Jumping Jacks. Anything that may work.
Those days you do have energy, have you noticed something? You don’t do different things, you just do them with a different energy level. Your mind is alert, your senses keen.
The difference is merely in a good night’s sleep! Nothing has changed about the day, your duties, the people you interact with.
But this is not the way we act!
We begin to behave as though the world is caving in, as though everything is crashing, and as though our co-workers and friends are out to get us.
We have put on our masks and are experiencing the world through tired eyes.
What can we do about this?
(1) Plan to be tired. Know what times of the day are your “down” times and mentally prepare yourself. That dreadful feeling is enhanced when we have an expectation that we should have more energy, but you know it won’t always be there. Think accordingly.
(2) Take one step at a time. As much as we all would like to be a productive superman, it always isn’t going to happen. When you are tired and dreading, take it one step at a time. Do one thing, take a break, then do another. Just because you are tired doesn’t mean you can’t get anything done. Do what you can and move on.
(3) Become aware of what you think about when you are dreading. Your values change depending upon the context. When you are feeling the most dread you begin to see things differently. Why are you dreading a particular activity? What value is taking over?
It could be because you just do not like that activity. Or it could be because of the exhaustion. Seeing the difference matters.
Weather The Storm
Long bouts with work, family functions, etc. can have a tiring effect on your mind and body. Especially during this holiday season, when you aren’t working it seems like you are traveling. Whether its positive or negative, stress still makes you tired.
It’s important to keep this in mind during those possible times.
You have to be able to weather the storm and keep on your path even when it feels like you are walking through mud.
It is actually during these times where those values and passions that are true to you come out and you see yourself in a different light.
During these times there are different strategies you can use.
(1) Know how and when to relax. Get yourself a pair of slippers and lounge around whenever you can. This is not being lazy. Even water knows when to flow and when to crash. Learn to know when to use everything you have and when to sit down and watch cartoons.
(2) Plan, plan, plan. Make things easier on yourself. Plan ahead. Find out how much gas money you will need for a trip. Plan the trip out. Plan for possible changes to that plan. Plan everything if you can.
(3) The plan is a guideline. It is not set in stone. Don’t be afraid to diverge. That is part of what it means to have fun. So don’t stress yourself out when your family decides to go to Red Lobster instead of Olive Garden.
Dread Is Connected To Energy
Right now we are having an energy crisis, right down to our very own bodies. We shove crap into ourselves and then try to bring ourselves to life with different products.
The feeling of dread is connected to this epidemic. We get run down. We get tired and try to artificially give ourselves more energy. But it can’t fix it and it’s not long-lasting.
Dread results from the constant breaking down of our mind and body without a chance for it to recuperate, and it is a horrible feeling to have.
Getting rid of this feeling is ultimately about energizing yourself in ways that are long-lasting and wholesome.
However, you can’t always be energized. Overcoming crippling thoughts and dread is about being mentally prepared to be tired. It is about overcoming false expectations that you will always have the energy needed. Finally, it is about taking your time when that exhaustion comes and moving forward, even if it’s one step at a time.
Don’t let the layer of exhaustion over your thinking distort it. You will soon find yourself strengthening connections between thoughts you do not want.