Self awareness

The tip of the iceberg

I often wonder why some people cope with the often volatile circumstances around them and some people don’t.

Why , far too commonly , the balance between obstacles that cross our paths can tip the scales towards the depths of despair as opposed to  help available to us and that which lies within us, and in just one moment, over years of collateral negativity, a decision is made, where there is no come back, because it is perceived to be the only way out. Out of pain, suffering, mental torture and anguish.

My biggest wish, is that noone ever felt so distressed that this was an option, but that somehow, through some possibility, glimmer of hope, ray of enlightenment, there was a reason for that person not to feel in such overwhelming despair they could terminate there lives in a second, but in stark contrast , that they would find a reason, a purpose that would keep them alive for there appointed lifetime.

People are like icebergs that we can see very visually., in a physical sense. But beyond the depths of the sea, beneath the surface of our very beings lies a unique capsule, encasing the thoughts, feelings , desires ,goals ,hopes and dreams of us all, individually.

The epitomy of emotional distress however dissipates  and erodes those hopes, goals and dreams and leaves something of an empty shell, filled only with inner distress and lack of peace.

However we all hold human resilience if we can look within ourselves. This is where I think the key lies. Within ourself to our own success, own achievements, own contentment, most significantly our own inner strength.

Noone can change the past, but we can change the circumstances around us by changing the way we think about it.

Often tragic or unfortunate circumstances in life can impact us and often without warning, where we have no control, warning and the only thing left is hindsight and what ifs.

But I learn this too is resilience and in our nature, every time we fall down, to keep getting back up; wiser for the lesson learnt, stronger for the pain endured, more resilient to future circumstances, without allowing those circumstances to pull you down.

I do believe we all have an inner strength that will carry us through life’s adversities and stressors if we allow., if we are available to our own resources and those that our available to us. This is where I believe we all have accountability to maintain an insight into our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours and triggers that cause us to feel low, sad or depressed and control we can maintain over these or strategies we can implement when we reach our own boiling point.

The mind is a well known powerful tool, but just like a desktop computer , it can accumulate too much information, lets say, when running too many programmes at the same time. It slows down. It can be susceptible to viruses without the appropriate security software and then suddenly it crashes and it is often very complex and troublesome to repair.

I feel like the human mind is very similar, which is why it is so important to value ourselves, what we think, how we think, what and who we allow into our minds.  Whatever we input into our lives, often has an outlet. So a negative input, will often result in a negative output, unless we protect ourselves accordingly.

This is why boundaries are important in our lives, implementing these in an appropriate fashion and incorporating these steps into our lives to enhance the quality of our lives and what we are able to attribute positively to the life around us.

Investing in our own self, self worth, being is paramount to live effectively and have more fulfilling lives and relationships with those around us. Family life, working relationships, Romantic relationships.

This starts at the core of ourselves as humans and addressing our own needs, emotional, physical, spiritual, psychological.

We are like myriads, like plants that require lots of water, nourishment,  environmental conditons to grow, and not wither.

I’ll focus on the value of physical health in another blog, but I am raising the value of self awareness and the importance of choice and responsibility in our own lives and insight into who we are and grasping life, to achieve who I believe we are destined to become, by being, overcomers, able to withstand that which happens around us, remaining firm as people, standing strong and established and focussed on the goal that we all have ahead of us which is that which again lies within us.

Sometimes in life, unfortunate things happen, we have a choice, to allow it to change us, to become stronger people and like ships, change the course of the sails, which would propel us in a direction,to  a higher level to which we could never be at , without enduring what we had to go through to get there.


Effective strategies for stress management.

In current society, there are many pressures which face us all on an individual basis.

These can be various, but often include family life, relationships, financial pressures, pressures at work and health, to name but a few.

In terms of mental health, I believe we all have a certain resilience to coping with the daily stressors of life that we face on a day to day basis.

There are certain psychological and biological models which may predetermine some us to mental health problems, more than others when our own resilience and inner strength is stretched to it’s limits.

I am rather a believer in a model attributed to a stress vulnerability model, in that when faced with multiple stressors at one time , we can feel more fragile as human beings than when only coping with just a few minor stressors not on a large scale.

This is difficult to quantify or measure, because how one person copes with stress, may be totally different to how another copes with stress.

The most important factor, is being self aware enough to recognise when we are not coping with everyday situations around us , being aware of our own mental health and coping strategies most useful in dealing with these situations.

It is well known that there is a significant rise in behaviours such as binge drinking and self harming behaviours, particularly in younger people but also binge drinking appears to be most significant amongst a larger more diverse population.

I personally feel, binge drinking is a coping strategy used as an attempt to bury or hide away from the stressors of life we face, escapism, once again as addressed in previous posts.

This may appear ‘helpful’ on a short term basis, but in the long term can have extremely destructive and devastating consequences to relationships, employment, magnifying the pre existing stressors to a significant level.

There are effective coping strategies and I am hoping to add a personal subjective element today to highlight the beauty in the most natural aspects of life.

Currently, I am learning to embrace nature in my life and new experiences. In nature, I have learnt to grasp the concept of inner peace.

Very recently I drove up to the north western coast of Scotland, called Ullapool.

This is the most stunning place I think I have ever discovered in my life.

Arriving at this place, was like stepping away from the pressures of the inside world, to the most tranquil destination on earth.

As I the sunset, I stood on a delicately pebbled bay, watching the gentle crest of the waves roll in , the clear , still sea and embracing the gentle breeze that softly abounded with each wave, in that moment, I was filled with deep peace and an amazing sense that reinvigorated my spirits and captivated me with the awe of such a beautiful, tranquil special place. Deep profound happiness filled my heart and spirit because I felt so close to this beauty and so grateful that it surrounded me. Being so close to something so special, as I watched the sun descend over the stark wildness but amazing scenery and the lighthouse in the distance, I embraced a moment of happiness I have chased after for years and in that moment, I found it, like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. No amount of money could buy me that and nobody could give me it.

There is so much more beyond what we see and what we already think we know as we chase after what we believe makes us successful or happy. Happiness is found in the most beautiful and simplest and precious of things that already exist but they just await to be found if we search long enough and hard enough we will find the road to the peace we search for.

That night , I stood by my bedroom window, watching the bright moonlight beaming over the glassy ripples of the loch below and there I felt more freedom and escape, in this , than any other form of escapism that had been available to me in my life.

There is so much beauty and peace to embrace in our life, if we just take a step back and ask ourselves, what really matters and what is most important?

I learnt that life doesnt have to be overwhelming or challenging, it can be very simple, the greatest gift I have found is in prayer and letting go of things I cannot control and then I always find my answers. The answers don’t often lie externally. They lie internally and as I embrace each new day and move forward, as we as people overcome every battle faced with instead of succumbing to the easy option or choice we find we become stronger and learn to develop a new shell , a new character that creates a beautiful new beginning and a beautiful new chapter in our lives and suddenly we are grateful for the pain that we ever faced, because without it we would not have found such beauty in the journey we faced along the way.

The value of self awareness and overcoming people’s approval

In this blog, I would like to focus on the importance of mental health and being aware of our own thoughts, feelings and emotions.

As a general nurse, when looking after poorly patients, there are often subtle warning signs, that arise which indicate very clearly when a patient’s physical condition is deteriorating.

Performing a set of observations will tell us abnormalities that deviate from ‘normal’ parameters indicative of a stable condition.

Unfortunately, being aware of our own mental health, and signs of deterioration are not so black and white, so to speak, unless we have insight into our own thoughts and feelings.

Knowing when we feel sad or anxious, what is causing us to feel that way, and how to manage these feelings effectively to maintain our own sense of wellbeing.

An analogy I like to use, is seeing one’s self as a beautiful rose garden.

We as individuals are the roses.

The soil is the foundation of our lives, whatever gives us a firm foundation, it should nurture us; body, soul and mind.

Fertile soil and good conditions will provide optimum growth.

But sometimes, weeds tend to grow which can start to overpower the flourishing of the flower.

The weeds in our lives, can be anything that restrict or hinder our growth (emotional/spriritual/psychological) or productivity.

Those weeds can be individual to each person, but having an awareness of elements in our lives that induce bad feeling, negativity, self hatred, self doubt, allows us to explore areas that cause us to feel such negativity, in an attempt to identify those triggers and establish more effective coping strategies and more importantly identifying those weeds in order to incite change in our lives , to uproot those weeds and achieve a healthier state of mind/wellbeing.

A basic example of this is, someone, who struggles to assert themselves.

Perhaps they feel a need to ‘people please’ for fear of what people think of them if they don’t comply with expectation.

This is often a factor in those with low self worth, who survive on the approval of others for validation about themselves.

Although difficult, setting boundaries, is exceptionally healthy for us as human beings.

If we see ourselves as a large castle, then the boundary is the large fence erected around us to protect what means the most to us. Within the core of all of us, we have certain beliefs, values, thoughts and feelings, we want to protect and nurture to maintain our own self worth, self respect and dignity, which we are all entitled to as individuals.

If we compromise those boundaries, we are at risk of compromising those core values within our own hearts that make us who we are, and therefore allowing the infrastructure of our very ‘being’ to become fractured, which in turn erodes our sense of self, and confidence.

Having a firm sense of self and practising assertiveness when we feel those boundaries are being encroached. Ensuring we are respected, appreciated and  valued as we know we deserve to be, as human beings, will enhance our self worth and self confidence.

Often, at times we  feel bad, it can often be common to experience self critical thoughts that reinforce our own sense of self doubt and inadequacy. Being aware of these thoughts and the feelings it implores, allows us the first step in challenging that thought or situation and expelling it. Often this requires a little self education, awareness and the ability to believe in ourselves and what we can truly achieve as indivuals if we have a little faith in ourselves, without worrying about what others do or do not think of us.

This isn’t just applied to material aspects but also the relations we have with others. Having boundaries places a protective barrier in these situations to maintain our self respect, self confidence and overall wellbeing.

There is literature available in certain areas, that can be found, aimed at improving self assertiveness and boundary setting in general life. I am sure having both self awareness as a foundation and learning the art of setting boundaries could be beneficial to all our lives and wellbeing.

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