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The light will find you ©2017 Suzanne Belair Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

The light will find you
©2017 Suzanne Belair
Acrylic on canvas 30 X 30 in

Today I am sharing a new painting recently finished. It speaks of the light that is in everyone’s life and that will come out after any episode of sadness.

 

When you are feeling sad, discouraged, in a rut, it is better to stop and take a few moments to think about it and feel it fully, than to keep on going, making believe it is not happening. It is important not to run away from your feelings.

 

Here is something that I do and that makes me feel better every time.

 

When you get a chance during your day, stop what you are doing, sit down or lie down and feel these feelings fully. It might feel like heaviness in your chest but it could also be the panicky sensation we get when fear wants to insert itself into our life, when indeed it has. What can we do to help this?  It all starts with mindfulness and acknowledging what is happening inside you.

 

Breathing slowly and becoming aware of the physical feelings and calming these, is essential. Here’s how I do it. I sit down and close my eyes and I imagine a beautiful space surrounding me like a lush garden or a deep blue sky.  My own preference is I see myself sitting in a forest beside a tree near a small river, and I hear the water flow and it is very calm. Once the image is clear in your head, start breathing mindfully.

 

Breathe slowly through your nose. Breathe in your sadness, feel it in your body, around your heart, and then release it with the out breath, feel the sadness get out of your body with the breath and vanish in the forest (or whatever space you created). Continue this for a while until you truly feel the release (minimum 10 breaths).

 

Continue the slow mindful breathing: Others are also feeling sad, so think of them also, feel their sadness at losing a loved one or at their situation. Breathe in their sadness through your heart and breathe all this sadness out toward your beautiful image surrounding you, toward the vastness it, feel the sadness dissolve around you. Visualize your out breath carrying the sadness away from you.

 

While you are doing this exercise, be present to how you feel when you release the sadness in the nature surrounding you. Be present to your feeling of compassion for others and your feeling that you are not alone.

 

Be aware that all in temporary, life is impermanence and your sadness is also temporary. The light will find you.

 

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Yesterday, I outlined the way overthinking and ruminating could take over our life sometimes, and why it just doesn’t work to find a solution to any problem.

Thinker by Rodin Photo©SuzanneBélair

 

Rumination can be very gripping and when we are in its web, it manipulates our thinking one way and the other. We feel stuck and compelled to continue in order to figure things out and find a solution but evidence proves the opposite happens. When we feel distressed, stressed out, no insight can be gained from ruminating. On the contrary, things get worse and we can start a downward spiral. So how do we break this habit once we realise that no good can come of it?

 

In the book “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, some strategies are outlined. I started putting some into practice and, to my surprise, they work:

 

1- Distract yourself- break the pattern. It sounds simple but it is very effective when you remember to use it. As soon as you realise you are overthinking, engage in an activity that usually makes you feel good and absorbed like a sport. Move, read something funny, go for a walk with music you like and listen to the words.

 

2- Say to yourself, even shout “Stop” or “No” or “Enough already” and go on to something else you need or want to do. In other words, force yourself to snap out of it and find something else to think about.

 

3- Set aside some specific and limited time everyday, say 30 minutes, to ruminate and refuse to engage in overthinking except in that time slot. Chances are when the time comes, you won’t be able to ruminate.

 

Also proposed are talking to a sympathetic friend and writing. Personally, I don’t feel this would work as well. The friend might not be available at the time you need to talk and some fragile feelings of low self-worth or even shame might interfere with anything positive the friend would have to say. Writing ruminations down only makes them more real, it is rumination in the written form and will likely bring a feeling of helplessness when you re-read them later and are in the grips of it once again, thinking, Oh No !  I am still at the same point 5 years later !
In practice, each person does what works for them but the important thing is to stop the pattern before it gets too far.

 

Other actions to take are:

Put your hand in front of your face. Look at it. This is real. Your thought pattern is interrupted.

 

Take one step towards solving your issue. When you act and feel proactive about straightening out a problem, you won’t need to ruminate so much, and it will feel like you are going in the right direction, moving forward.

 

One thing I do sometimes is project myself in the future, “next year, next month, next week, it will be behind me”. Will this be important in 5-10 years from now?”

 

When I read the book, I felt I could let go of all my ruminating because it became very clear to me that no good can come of it. Rethinking decisions that have been made in the past, reliving sad moments or failures, imagining all kinds of negative things (even if it seems real), does not get us anywhere but down. I am working hard on freeing myself from this habit since I read about it. We need to move forward and realize that we do not control everything.

 

Better to use some of these strategies to stop overthinking in its tracks. I can say I am now a recent ex-ruminator. Like any habit breaking, it gets easier with time but awareness is important and remember, it does not mean you don’t care about the past, the future, someone else’s well-being, or have no problems, it only means you care enough about yourself to see that this is going nowhere, that it is only a big waste of time that could be put to better use.

 

Try the strategies, you’ll surprise yourself !

 

 

(1) Lyubomirsky S., 2007,The How of Happiness, The Penguin Press, New-York, London.

 

http://www.suzannebelair.com

©2014 Suzanne Bélair

 

 

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After a lot of internal complaining and feeling sorry for myself one day, I opened the “How of happiness”, a wonderful book by Sonja Lyubomirsky, that I recommend to everybody. I found myself at the chapter talking about “ruminations”. I must admit I am an expert ruminator and have been all my life.

 

I remember my mother telling me that ruminating was for cows- “Stop ruminating”, she would say. But despite this, my whole life sometimes seems like a giant rumination. Turning around and around in my head everything I don’t like. Have you noticed that overthinking is rarely about what is right in your life or what you are happy about?  We ruminate our problems and situations because we think that somehow, the more we think about it, the more we’ll find some insight that will give us the solution, the “key” to our own happiness.

 

The thinker by Rodin

The thinker by Rodin Photo©SuzanneBélair

But scientific research shows that it is the opposite that takes place. People that ruminate are generally unhappy and suffer feelings of distress and anxiety. (1) The author talks about rumination like a bad habit that needs breaking if one is to find some happiness. She gives tools to stop rumination when it starts, or as soon as we are aware that we started doing it. Although ruminators think that the more they think about their problem or issue, the more insight they’ll discover  into their own personality and solutions to their problems, or find the answer as to why something is not working, the opposite happens: Ruminators go deeper into their problem and their personal distress, bringing a lot of negative consequences to their life.

 

Sadness is enhanced and sustained, the overthinker becomes biased and doesn’t see reality as it actually is, it becomes a vicious circle. If we are ruminating on a problem, it impairs our ability to find a viable solution because our mind is being taken over by negative feelings, it saps motivation and often provokes a “victims” mentality where we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t see any solutions. It also interferes with concentration and stops us from taking any initiative.
So instead of gaining insight into ourselves and our problems, we gain a “distorted and pessimistic perspective” on our lives. If there is already a tendency to negative mood, the combination of ruminating and negative mood is toxic. Overthinking and ruminating will eventually take a significant toll on us and on our relationships if it hasn’t already.

 

I like that the ruminating is presented as a habit that it is possible to break. According to the author, becoming happier means taking the decision to break free from overthinking about both major or minor negative experiences, it is about learning not to pay attention to every bump in the road whether small or big, and not let them affect how we feel about ourselves and our life as a whole.

 

There is a real sentiment of freedom once we realise that no good can come out of overthinking and ruminating. It is the first step to recovery and seeing our lives clearly and finding happiness.
Tomorrow I will post some strategies to overcome this bad habit.

 

 

(1) Lyubomirsky S., 2007,The How of Happiness, The Penguin Press, New-York, London.

 

http://www.suzannebelair.com

©2014 Suzanne Bélair

 

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