Tuesday, 18 July 2017

maintaining the clarity

So I was talking about my lightbulb moment in the my last post, and how I believe that simplifying life is key to a calmer mind. For me, at least.

I was thinking about this and how I often have these moments of clarity, but then they get swept up in the maelstrom of my mind.

Why is it, that in an instant I can see so vividly what needs to be done, and how to do it, and in the next moment it's gone, blurred in amongst all the other head chatter.

It feels like I'm in the sea, head under water, vision blurry with so much to see and none of it distinct. Then, just for a moment, my head pops above the surface, and I can clearly see the shore and the horizon. I know where I am, and where I need to be, and I am sure I can get there.
Then there's a wave, a change in current, and I'm back under...trying to make sense of the smudge of blues and greens in front of my eyes...trying to focus on what needs my attention.

This makes me think I need a buoyancy aid of some kind. But I'm not sure what form that will take as yet.

I do find the writing things down helps. Once it's down on paper, it's out of my head, and there's one less thought in the whirlpool that exists in there.

Do you journal? I do, sporadically. It's more of a brain download, that's how I refer to it. No doodling or pretty tapes and coloured pens. Just pen to paper and let it spew out.
Emotional vomit is how I once heard it termed. Pretty damn accurate!
And I only ever journal when I've something to try and sort out, or something bad has happened and I need to offload, without the requirement of a full conversation about it.

I always feel relieved after a journalling session - it's hugely cathartic - and I ALWAYS write way more than I think I will, and never stick to the topic I had in mind. Ha ha!

Tangents upon tangents....out it flows.

My mind quietens, shoulders release their tension, my jaw slackens and I am no longer gritting my teeth. I feel peace.

This is especially useful if I've been struggling with sleep - I usually fall asleep okay, but then either have mad, bonkers dreams that are hyper vivid, and exhausting...like living a whole other life in my sleep. Or, I wake up numerous times in the night - I have to get out of bed to reset (cue five trips to the loo), before climbing back in and falling back to sleep.

Talking things through with a friend is supremely helpful, especially of you're both having similar issues. This shared problem solving is much more positive and productive, than simply moaning to a friend who either doesn't have the problem, or can't relate to it.
There's too much (inherited Catholic..which I'm not!) guilt associated with that kind of sharing for me, as there's rarely any progress made...just noise coming out of my mouth...and there's been far too much of that over the past couple of years, so I try to find another solution where possible.
[Though sometimes only a good old chuntering sesh with a friend will do, whilst out stomping, or over a brew or a G and T]

Now where was I? See, this happens all the time, I have a very clear idea/thought in my head, and am working my way through it, when *poof* off it floats, like a spider web on the breeze, and I simply can't get a firm grasp on it again. Infuriating!
Thankfully, because I'm actually sat typing all of this out, I can retrace my thoughts, and get back to where I was.

Following on from the talking with a friend point, accountability is a great tool!

Either find a friend or colleague who has the same issue, and agree that you'll both check in with each other, to make sure you are keeping with the program. Each declares (or in text, message, email) what they intend to do/achieve/change to the other, and by doing that they are making themselves accountable. It's no longer a fanciful thought in your head, but an 'out in the world' promise to yourself, and someone knows about it. And they'll be talking with you to see how you're getting on, and vice versa, and there to share ideas, what has and hasn't worked for them, relevant articles they've read, lightbulb moments. You can each monitor one another's progress and help each other to stay true to your chosen paths, with regular checkins and updates. You also have someone to talk to when things go awry...a sounding board.

Another way of doing this, if you haven't got a friend in the same boat, is to find someone who has been there and found their way through it, who will be happy to be your sounding board. A mentor of sorts.

The thing I miss most about working in my old accounting office, is having my colleague across the room to bounce things off. We'd chat through issues, remind one another how to do certain formulae on our spreadsheets, boost one another when one was having a particularly tough day, and talk through the best way to handle a problem. Priceless.

Consciously telling myself to take a moment, just stop, take stock, think things through one at a time, and then go forward in a methodical way, is a great exercise. Breaking things down into their component parts, makes it much simpler to see what needs to be done, and in what order.

This does have the disadvantage of needing to be done alone, by me...but with the help of a pad, pen and the ever faithful list, it can still work. I have to make sure I keep referring to the list/notes, to stay on track.

Another thing I've learned, and been increasingly aware of in recent months is not to force things. If an issue is proving particularly stubborn, leave it be for a while. Walk away and let your mind process everything you're thinking or feeling about it, and often the answer will come naturally, organically, instinctively.

I'd been thinking about blogging, brainstorming subjects, ideas etc, and putting it off for ages, because I couldn't think of a topic that didn't feel forced or trite.

This morning I started to compose an Instagram post, which naturally became the previous, Simplify, post.

Instead of over thinking, and forcing content into my head, I gave myself the space to generate an idea...a post on something that felt relevant and real, and something I wanted to talk about. Not because: it was on trend; it was relevant to my business; or because it linked into a recent product design; but simply because it is supremely pertinent to me right now, and part of why I am struggling to keep up a consistent presence on social media.

I also recognised that the post was growing in my head as I typed, and so headed over to my blog to make the most of it.

Planning and scheduling are all well and good, but if the posts don't come instinctively, then there's no joy in it for me. This is something I have processed organically; by stepping away from courses and articles about why/when/where to post/share/blog; taking a step back from all the instruction that's out there; and giving myself the time to absorb it all.
A little like how we're told, that at night, our brains process the information we've gathered during the day, and form and cement our memories.

"One of the key components of information processing is attention. Information slams into our brains all the time - way too much information for us to process. The information enters our brains through our senses, and then, we either discard the information or we pay attention to it."

A sure fire way for me to get clarity, and let the ideas and plans flow, is to get in the bath! As soon as I'm immersed under the bubbles, my brain clears, and out they pour. I have learned to take a pad and pen in to the bathroom, as I've climbed out of too many deliciously scented, warm baths, just to make sure I write a thought down!

Is there an activity that you do that you know stimulates clear thinking? Can you harness it and use it to your advantage? I ran a bath on Saturday lunchtime, because I knew I needed some quiet thinking time. It worked! I got out, mind focused, and got straight on with tackling the gate.

Getting out for a walk works in the same way for me. It doesn't have to be a huge long hike, a simple stroll to the post office to post orders will do, or a walk through the fields and the village. Just getting away from all the stimulation around me in the house works wonders...a clear field of vision and a clear mind. No pile of ironing, no open bill, no half finished painting, and no emails demanding attention.

I always take my phone, and dependent on my mood I either do a full stomp to get my heart racing and my limbs pumping, or I take it a little steadier and make time to snap images as the moments grab me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! I know I'll be pondering it for a few days yet, and probably even longer still. We're heading away for a week on Sunday, and I'm going to take the opportunity to work through some of this head fog, and find my way (or ways) to tackle it.

Do please note that these are my own personal thoughts on things, I'm not saying you should try these ideas...I simply wanted to start the conversation, to find out how differently we all deal with similar issues. It's so good to talk!

Cheerio for now,

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