I don’t know anything about psychology but there’s something at work here. I’m not a ‘changed person’ exactly but I am not quite who I expected to be at this time and assuming I haven’t just got myself into a complete state of denial about my life and future, I’d say that doing something new each day is having a subtle positive effect on my brain. This wasn’t really my aim when I set out – I was thinking more along the lines of getting through each day somehow – so it’s nice that it has become more complicated and intriguing. If you’re going through a bad patch then I would recommend giving this a try.
So I’m going to start reading up on some stuff because if I’m right, I’d like to tap into the opportunity to push the ideas further and become a bit less flaky and rubbish. Here are some embryonic thoughts about some of the concepts I’d like to investigate.
Two things I’ve noticed:
- Doing a new task that I’ve set myself can be completely absorbing. This is great for ‘snapping me out of it’. Don’t EVER tell an unhappy person to snap out of it – but could you distract them by give them a random new little thing to do?
- Sometimes it dawns on me that the thing I am doing at this precise moment is A NEW THING. At that moment I am not dwelling on the past or worrying about what’s around the corner, but just noticing exactly what’s happening there and then. Even if you don’t fancy trying my project, it would make me happy if I thought a few of you started acknowledging to yourself the times when you are doing something new – congratulate yourself or just whisper ‘ooo that’s a new thing’ and smile secretly.
On looking at the NHS information about mindfulness, I am pleased to see that it specifically mentions trying something new to help you see the world in a different way.
I recently got stuck on a train in the middle of nowhere. This is something I dread and panic set in instantly. But between the waves of panic, I tried to observe what was actually happening to me, mentally and physically (fizzy legs, anyone?) I’ve never had a proper panic attack but I don’t ever want one, and I didn’t used to be this bad. It didn’t seem as if everyone else was panicking so it should be possible for me to learn not to panic. (Although I don’t suppose I looked like I was panicking and I wonder what would have happened to everyone else if they’d noticed that I was reading a document that kept referring to weapons of mass destruction.) Anyway, maybe mindfulness techniques could help me with panic.
Amateur music therapy and singing
A few months ago, a friend was surprised when I told her I wasn’t involved in anything musical and hadn’t been for years. This was like a little kick in the head (thanks, Sonia). How did that happen? I don’t even go to see bands very often these days.
So I’ve started playing the piano again and if I’m feeling a bit wobbly, on goes BBC Radio 6 Music. I’m also in the lovely choir and I have always left each session in a better mood than the one I was in when I arrived, even when I arrived in a really good mood. A friend of a friend tweeted me this article which seems to make a lot of sense.
This is my personal musical therapy but obviously it’s an actual clinical discipline. I’m not about to go and retrain but on the basis that I would like my ‘new things project’ to start being a little less self-absorbed, maybe I could explore voluntary opportunities – and get a bit more music back in my life while trying to help others. Ideas welcome.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, neuroplasticity, NLP…
I don’t actually know what the name for this section should be, but it’s supposed to be about changing the pathways in your brain and patterns of behaviour. Some of the bad things I do are:
- Avoiding starting something because I’m certain I won’t be able to do it, or at least won’t do it as well as other people
- Starting something and not finishing it
- Dreading things
I recently spent a day helping a friend move house and came to the conclusion that it was ridiculous that I could work super-hard all day for someone else and then spend a whole day at home dithering about packing up just one box for myself. There’s also no way I would have bothered to do many of the new things listed in this blog if I had just been doing them randomly for myself, as opposed to contributing to this project which I’ve told everyone about and which keeps the pressure up, as well as providing a structure. This, in turn, seems to be gradually making me less likely to say ‘no, can’t do that’ – changing a habit that has become mildly crippling.
The keys seem to be the purpose of the task and the way I view the end result – these change my motivation. I can’t (hmm, there’s that word again) do things purely for myself. I like having a tidy house but I’ll only tidy up properly for other people. I can help someone complete a task but give me the same task and I’ll do anything but. The only time I’ve ever lost a decent amount of weight was when I did a sponsored slim, with the positive fundraising taking the focus away from an essentially negative and depressing inward-looking issue.
On that note, can I please start my Easter eggs yet?
Thanks for reading and sorry about the lack of pictures in this one! Since this was a reflective post, here’s a picture of Ely cathedral with reflections.