Just like any muscle, being more in tune with your feelings, your thoughts, even your body, takes practice. No one snaps their fingers and suddenly has the zen of a buddhist monk just like no one starts out as an Olympic level anything. There are things you can do right now, today, that can help you start your own practice of self-tuning. Little tricks and tools you can leverage to build your mind/heart connection. The purpose here is not perfection. It might be counter to everything we are normally told, but the goal here is to not strive. It's not about doing, it's about being. It's about showing up for yourself, just a little bit at a time. Think of yourself as a well dressed modern day Mind Shepherd, as you kindly, lovingly notice and then usher yourself toward the thoughts, feelings, and actions you deserve. You'll be amazed at how you can start to fit this into your every day life. Here are some things that I actually work on with my clients and do (imperfectly) personally as my own Mind Shepherd:
I have this fantastic app on my phone called Think Up that I use before I go to bed. (I'm not getting a kick back for this or anything I'll talk about here today.) There are definitely other apps you can use that facilitate mindfulness and affirmations. What I like about Think Up is that it is free and gives you a set number of affirmations. (There is a paid upgrade that I went for because I have a lot of things I want to affirm!)
They have a list, divvied up into categories like Abundance, Body Image, Creativity. Users can also create their own. Once you've made your selections, you record yourself saying them. Then the app adds some nice music under it and plays all your affirmation as a loop. It's so powerful! When I hear myself saying "I am thankful and grateful for the abundance in my life" I tend to respond out loud and say 'heck yea, I am!" I expand. I get grounded into the statements, and get out of my worry spiral. I invite abundance. So much better than agonizing over my checkbook! A really lovely way to end the day.
2. Level Up
Maybe you're feeling frustrated or blue. Maybe you're just having a rotten day. Turn off that autopilot! It would have just allowed you to continue that crummy day, anyway! We are meant to be in joy! Ask yourself: What's one step up from how I currently feel? Instead of frustrated, maybe it's annoyed. Instead of sad, maybe it's discontent. These might seem like semantics, but whatever your word and feeling are, identify the next level up. Do you want to feel one step better than you are now? (probably!) Leveling up is not just for Mario Brothers anymore!
My self talk goes like this: 'I am so frustrated, but I don't like this feeling. This frustration is valuable because it's telling me something is amiss, and I honor it. Now I want to level up. One step up from frustrated could be annoyed. I can be annoyed...(tries it on in my mind)... That feels a bit better than before!
I admit, this might seem nutty to you. It might seem like a lot of woowoo kumbaya stuff. Maybe it is. But it works, friends.
The trick from here is continuing up that feelings ladder. Once you get good at identifying what one step above your current state is, you can keep going! You can do this on the bus, while you're driving, while you're sitting at your desk. It need not be a full day referendum. Just a quick check in, figure out what that level up is, and try on the new feeling! It's amazing how quickly you can turn your day around.
3. Watch your language!
The way we talk about ourselves, whether externally or in our heads, matters. I have worked, and continue to work, on changing my language. One big piece of this is thinking in the affirmative, instead of the negative. What in the heck does that mean? Well, when I ask myself what I want from any given situation or how I want to feel, I used to instinctively start out by saying/thinking 'well, I don't want x and I don't want to feel y.' It's just so easy to know what you don't want because that's how we've been programmed to think- narrow it all down by exclusion. But by thinking in the negative, I have to think about those things I don't want. Just like a child can't think about not spilling their drink without thinking about what it is to spill. So I've worked on thinking about what it is I do want, and if my sentence starts with don't, then I have to stop and reroute myself. I then think about what the positive version of xyz is. For example, if I don't want to be insecure while I'm on an interview, the opposite is that I want to be confident! See the difference? I can much easily focus on inhabiting confidence before a big interview than I can trying to embody the absence of something I don't even want. All of this takes practice but over time, it will become natural, easy, and quick!
Language matters- love yourself with it by being your own Mind Shepherd!