Category Archives for "Week Eleven – Applying the TRACK process to Stress, depression, anxiety and other emotions"

Week Eleven / Day One – Three common stress disorders

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

There is a lot of confusion out there about what the differences are between major stress, depression and anxiety.

Many symptoms, such as overwhelm, anger, feelings of worthlessness, lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm for life can seem to occur in all of these ‘diagnosed’ disorders.

One minute you could be feeling stressed, the next anxious, only to end the day completely falling apart in tears and feeling like a failure. It may seem like you do all three of these disorders simultaneously and aren’t sure which medication you should be taking from one moment to the next. I mean are you suffering from stress, depression or anxiety?

Well today I’m going to teach you the difference between all three of these disorders. You may remember that I touched on this at the beginning of this program in Week One – Day Three: The relationship between Stress, Depression & Anxiety. It is worth however, repeating this explanation because now, after ten weeks of learning, you have much more of an understanding about your specific beliefs, how you attach your self-worth to your beliefs and also, have gained specific insight into your habitual thinking patterns.

Because of this, my explanation about stress, depression and anxiety is likely to make more sense.

It’s important to remember that all stress is formed because of a conflict between belief and reality. It is never an event that causes us to feel stressed, it is how we perceive that event (through our beliefs) and more importantly, what we have perceived this event to mean about me (my self-worth and my quality of life). There is ALWAYS a self-worth component behind ALL stress and stress disorders.

Even though stress, depression and anxiety can seem like they are the same, there are actually very distinct differences between them and knowing these differences and using the Mind TRACK to Happiness process in a very specific way to upgrade and change your thinking, can help stop you from experiencing these mental disorders.

So this is what we are going to talk about this week, applying the TRACK process specifically to stress, depression and anxiety and other common emotions such as anger, guilt, overwhelm and the pressure to ‘get life/motherhood right’.

First though, I would like to reiterate the differences between the three disorders and how our beliefs are responsible for each disorder being present in our lives. Remember, you do not ‘have’ depression, anxiety or stress. It is what you ‘do’ because of the beliefs you hold about life.
 

Psychological Stress – “My Life is not going to plan”

 
Let’s paint a scenario for you:

Ever since you were a little girl you have wanted to become a mum and have children of your own. It was a no-brainer. You just figured that eventually you would get married, fall pregnant, have your 2.3 children and live happily ever after, just like you were taught would happen in the fairytale books and movies that entertained you.

You got to the marriage bit okay, got pregnant okay, but somehow between then and 3 months after your child was born, you are still waiting for the happily ever after part.

Having never been a parent before, you of course, expected labour to hurt, but that it would go ahead normally, however your baby got stuck, they pulled out the fauceps, the suction cap and eventually all of your hard work ended in an emergency caesarian. You felt a little bit disappointed with how that turned out, but felt like you could get over that.

Unfortunately though, regardless of your repetitive attempts, you are struggling to breastfeed. Your nipples feel like they are hanging of the edge of your breasts, you are in excruciating pain, your baby is not getting enough to eat (because blood is clearly not a nutritious supplement for milk) and you are forced to put your child onto formula. On top of this your child is very unsettled and will not sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time 24 hours a day.

You are feeling like your life is a far cry from the happily ever after that you were promised. I think it would be safe to say that life has not gone to plan and you are feeling quite stressed.

But what is actually causing your stress? Psychological stress fundamentally comes down to the beliefs that life is not meeting the plan you believe it should or that you expected it to, which you therefore believe means something about you and your life. Because my life is not going to plan, what does that say about me? I’m not a worthy person. You may not believe that is makes you a completely worthless person if you are experiencing stress, but to some degree you believe that the events occuring in your life are devaluing your quality of life in some way.

In this situation, perhaps you had an expectation that you would have a calm, natural, drug-free labour. Perhaps you had expectations on how you would be able to handle the challenges that came with a newborn or perhaps you didn’t expect that there were even going to be any problems.

The stress comes because what you are now experiencing (reality) is in direct conflict with these expectations or ‘pictures’ that you had in your mind of how life was ‘supposed’ to go. To some degree you had your self-worth (how good you were going to be as a mother & your happily ever after – quality life) pinned to how your life was ‘supposed to go’ and now it hasn’t happened you now engage in conversations about how ‘bad’ this is and this thinking causes the physical response of stress.

You will read and see many definitions of stress relating to the events that occur in people’s lives, like the pressure of work, the demands of motherhood, poverty, a marriage break up, having to make a difficult decision etc. However if it were the events that caused you to feel stress then everyone that encountered these events would feel psychological stress, however not everyone does. This is because we all perceive these events differently because we all hold different beliefs and all have different habits of thinking.

Each of us have been brought up in different environments that have taught us the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to live our lives. Furthermore we are taught that the only way to be a valuable person is to live the right way. The ‘right way’ for one person is completely different for another.

Underneath any of the reasons why one person does one thing over another will be what they believe about being a valuable, worthy person.

Stress occurs when you perceive that your life’s value and your self-worth are in jeopardy because life has not gone to plan.
 

Depression – “I am a failure”

 
Anyone who is suffering from depression, has first gone through stress. They have perceived that their life is not meeting their expectations and going according to the plan that they believe is the ‘right way’ for a life to go and they are feeling like their self-worth / quality of life has diminished to some degree.

After viewing your life not going to plan for a while, you start to look for reasons why your life is not going to plan and your finger ends up pointing back to yourself. “It’s my fault. I am to blame [for my life not going to plan]. “I am a failure.”

When someone draws this conclusion when life has not gone to plan, they then begin to give up on their lives. This can happen with one or more areas of life, or in many cases, all areas of life. The reasoning, is, “Why bother. Why bother trying to set any goals in this area of my life because I am just a failure.”

Incidentally, how does it feel to be a failure? It doesn’t feel very good does it? So if I’m viewing myself as a failure every time I attempt to try and be successful at this area of my life that is only going to cause me further pain. So what do I do? I stop setting goals and stop trying to succeed in this area of my life. I protect myself from pain by avoiding doing anything in that area of my life.

This can happen in motherhood, work, relationships or any other area in life. The comments to look out for are “Why Bother. I am a failure. I don’t care anymore what happens. I couldn’t be bothered.”

Again, it is not the events that are causing this depression, it is your perception that these events make you a failure because life has not met your beliefs on the ‘right life’.

In the example that we used above, if a mother has experienced all of these things and is now feeling like a failure, it is because she has pinned her self-worth on motherhood meeting her expectations/ her beliefs and because that has not happened, she now believes that is a direct reflection on her as a person and as a mother.

It can be incredibly soul-crushing to believe that you have failed at motherhood. After all, it’s meant to be a natural thing for a woman to do, isn’t it? “If I can’t get this right, out of all the experiences I have in my life, then what good am I? Furthermore, what sort of quality of life does my child get if they are getting such a terrible mother like me?”

Of course, none of these comments are actual truth, but this is the misperceptions about the problems that occur in our life (and in this case, motherhood). It is the misunderstandings about what defines our self-worth to begin with and also, the reality of life.

This is why all stress (including depression) is a conflict between beliefs and reality. In order to correct depression, we must correct this conflict by educating you to re-learn the truth about life and your self-worth.
 

Generalised Anxiety – “I must control & prevent”

 
The thought process that goes on to take one’s stress into anxiety, is a little different to the path that depression takes.

Instead of believing that one is failure when life hasn’t gone to plan and feeling completely worth-less, an anxiety sufferer believes that they can control life so that it goes to plan.

Unlike a depression sufferer who stops setting goals and adopts a ‘why bother’ attitude, an anxiety sufferer sets lots of goals in order to try and control their world. They keep implementing loads of ways to get their life ‘right’ and prevent it from going ‘wrong’.

Control and prevent become the common theme to an anxiety sufferer, all with the underlying incorrect belief that there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live. If I live the wrong way then my self-worth / quality of life is in jeopardy, so I must control my life in order to prevent it from going wrong, otherwise what will that say about me and my life? You got it – worth-less (to varying degrees, depending on the person judging their worth by their life). The stronger the attachment of their worth to how their life unfolds, the more intense the anxiety is.
 

The pendulum swing between stress, depression and anxiety

 
Why these three disorders can be so confusing, even to many health professionals, is because of your ability to swing from one to the next from moment to moment.

The bottom line is that your thoughts are what are creating your feelings and it is easy for your thoughts to go from depressive thoughts, onto anxiety thoughts and back again very quickly. Here’s how:

After feeling stressed that life hasn’t gone to plan, you can easily draw the conclusion that you are a failure and give up on trying to get life to go ‘back on track’. You may wallow, feel sad, stay in bed for a while, but then you get thinking, “I can’t just sit here like this. I have to get up and do something.” You begin setting goals again, going for things that will get your life back on track where it’s ‘supposed to be’.

You then go into control and prevent mode, thinking, “I must get my life to go to plan and back on track and I must do everything not to go back to where I was when I was depressed. You fall into anxiety mode, feeling anxious whenever a situation presents itself that becomes a threat to your life’s plan (your beliefs about the way life’s supposed to go).

Similarly you may go straight from the stress of ‘life not going to plan’ to anxiety, thinking that now that life hasn’t gone to plan you must put things into place (setting lots of goals) in order to get life back on track. You become anxious about the outcome of these goals, holding on tight to their fruition for fear of losing them. You try and control every little thing you can and you go into surveillance mode, searching for any potential threat to you achieving your goal and staying on track with your perceived ‘right’ path.

What can often happen then, is that when you cannot control and something does go ‘wrong’ and you deviate from your ‘right’ path, or your ‘right’ life, you feel really bad and start thinking “Why bother. I am a failure”. This is where the depression kicks in.

Often this is when people go to their doctors and are described with depression. The doctor would be correct, because you do, at this point have depression, but you probably do anxiety pretty well too. Most people (unless they are having severe panic attacks) would not go to their doctor when they are suffering from anxiety, but they will when they are feeling depressively low.

 
 
What you will find though, in all three of these stress disorders, the same theme applies. You have beliefs about how life ‘should’ be and the reality of your life is not meeting them. Because of this you believe that your self-worth is in jeopardy, or in the case of depression, it has been completely crushed.

Incorrect assumptions that life should always go to plan and incorrect beliefs about what constitutes self-worth are at the core of all three of these disorders.

When we correct the beliefs, using the reality thinking model, then you correct the disorders because no longer are you attaching your self-worth to the outcome of your life.

With stress, if life does not go to plan you and you have a healthy understanding of life’s ups and downs, then you do not feel stressed.

With depression, if life is not going to plan and you have a correct understanding of your self-worth, knowing that no matter what is happening in your life you are always 100% worthy and that there is value in everything that you experience, then you stop feeling like a failure and your depression disappears.

With anxiety, when you understand that you cannot control how your life unfolds and regardless of how your life unfolds their is always value in your experiences and you are still 100% worthy, you will no longer need life to meet your plans and your expectations in order to function in life and the anxiety will go away.

The answer to all three of these disorders is to become aware of your thinking (step one of the TRACK process – thoughts) and to upgrade this thinking to be in alignment with reality (step two of the TRACK process – reality). From here you can begin re-evaluating your goals with an accurate and healthy perception of life and self-worth.

Over the next few days, I am going to show you how to do this and stop your stress, depression and anxiety for good.

Week Eleven / Day Two – Psychological Stress – My life has not gone to plan

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

It may seem very logical and perhaps even slightly insulting to teach you that the conclusion that we draw that lies behind pscyhological stress is “My Life is not going to plan”. You may be thinking well, der…..

However, what causes your stress, is not just the observation that life hasn’t gone to the plan you had in mind, but more what you now perceive about your life and yourself now that it hasn’t gone to plan. It is the attachment you have to life going to plan. It’s believing that life has to go to plan in order for it to be successful.

In today’s lesson, I’m going to take you through the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to help you to stop any psychological stress that is occuring in your life right now. Let’s start with the first step:
 

Step One: Thoughts

 
The first step on the TRACK process is to identify your thoughts about the situation. What are you thinking now that life hasn’t gone to plan? People stress over many different things because of how they are perceiving the situation.

Remember, the keys to this step are about awareness and detachment.

Take a moment to reflect upon the current situation causing you stress and ask yourself the following questions. Pause after you read each of these questions and see what answers come up. Write them down if you want to, because sometimes that can give you even more insight into what is going on in your head.
 

Being aware of your thoughts about your ‘stressful’ situation

  1. What are your thoughts, opinion, feelings about this matter?
  2. What does this new situation mean?
  3. How is this situation effecting your life?
  4. Why is it such a big deal that you are now experiencing this situation instead of what you believe you ‘should’ be experiencing?
  5. How are you attaching your self-worth/quality of life to this situation?

NB: Don’t spend a lot of time on this first step – thoughts. You’ve already spent a lot of time with this kind of conversation rolling around in your head. You don’t need to rehash everything you are thinking. Quickly jotting down your general thoughts, beliefs and feelings will adequately remind you of where you are at. The important thing is to acknowledge your thoughts, detach from them by remembering that this is simply the habitual thinking that you are trying to change, and then move onto the second step on the TRACK process – Reality

Here are some examples of common situations and how these questions may be asked:

“My child is misbehaving all the time – tantrums, back chat, crying all the time etc”

  1. What are your thoughts, opinions, feelings about this matter?

    My son is constantly pushing the boundaries at the moment. Every time I try and do something, he wants me. When I try to do things with him it always ends up with him throwing tantrums every two seconds and I just hate it. I don’t want to deal with his whingeing and crying all the time. I just hate this aspect of being a mum. He never lets me just finish what I need to do. I’m constantly getting interrupted and I resent having to deal with all this day in, day out, never getting a break to myself and always being the one who has to deal with everything. I just want some time to do something meaningful for me, for once.

  2. What does this new situation mean?

    It means that I’m not getting things done. It means that I’m not getting any time out and that I’m missing out on being able to enjoy my little boy. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I mean I knew that there would be challenges but I didn’t think that I would feel so stressed out. I just want to enjoy being a mother but it just seems like I’m getting angry and frustrated all the time and not giving my son the love that I want him to have

  3. How is it effecting you right now and why?

    I don’t feel like I’m getting the time out that I need. I don’t feel like I’m giving my son what he needs. I wanted to be a good stay at home mum but now I’m feeling like the worst mother in the world. I just don’t know how to deal with him when he gets this way and all I want to do is just run away from the situation.

  4. Why is it such a big deal that you are now experiencing this situation instead of what you believe you ‘should’ be experiencing?

    Because motherhood shouldn’t be this way. I should be able to enjoy my time with my son. He won’t be young forever and I don’t want to waste this time being angry and horrible to him. I want his childhood experience to be a good one, not filled with memories of ‘mummy getting angry’ all the time.

  5. How are you attaching your self-worth/quality of life to this situation?

    I guess because I am wanting to be that ‘good mother’ where my child never gets yelled at and I only want my son to have the very best childhood experience. I never had a good childhood experience, so I’m determined that he does have a good one. So far I feel like I’m not being that mother that I wanted to be. Also, I feel like my life is suffering because of having to deal with him day in, day out. I want to feel like my life is worthwhile and not just about dealing with the endless demands of my son.

Within the answers to these questions you can see all of the thinking that is in direct conflict with reality – the reality of the present situation, the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth.

Let’s look at another example of a situation that could cause stress:
 

“My whole life is chaos right now”

  1. What are your thoughts, opinions, feelings about this matter?

    I feel like I can’t handle all of this pressure anymore. I had an unplanned c-section which has left me feeling traumatised and leaving me very sore. I have a newborn and a toddler to deal with, my husband is hardly ever home to help because he works so hard. We have hardly any money to pay the bills, the house is always a mess and I just can’t seem to get on top of things amongst all the tantrums and running around after both of the children and I just don’t seem to be able to come up for air. I feel like I’m drowning in this motherhood role and I just don’t know how to change this situation. This is not what I had expected for my life!

  2. What does this new situation mean?

    It means that I am struggling. It means that I can’t pull myself together and get things to function the way that I wanted to. I should be able to organise the running of the house and deal with the demands of these two children. I should be able to find a way to cope like millions of other mothers have in the past. It’s not like I’m the only one to have to juggle all this. I mean other women do this and run a business or work a job. Why am I the only one who can’t?

  3. How is this situation effecting your life?

    It’s effecting the time, energy and love I give to my children. It is effecting my marriage because when my husband comes home, I’m just unloading all the day’s stress onto him, I’m in a foul mood and I feel like he has become the ‘relief worker’ when he walks through the door, rather than the man that I love. Also, it’s effecting my self-esteem. I don’t feel like I’m capable of doing this for much longer. I feel like I have too many demands going on and too many things that are going wrong. I just need a break.

  4. Why is it such a big deal that you are now experiencing this situation instead of what you believe you ‘should’ be experiencing?

    Because I keep thinking that I should be doing it better. I should be able to get everything to function correctly. Motherhood should be about loving and nurturing your children, not stressing out about housework, bills and getting frustrated by the amount of work there is to do

  5. How are you attaching your self-worth/quality of life to this situation?

    I don’t feel ike a very good mother/house wife. I feel like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing the best way that I can. I feel like I’m letting my husband down, my children down and not getting the life that I wanted to have.

Writing down your answers to your questions is going to highlight all of the thinking that is going on in your head causing your stress. It is also going to help you to address these thoughts as we move into the next step and the most important step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process – Reality.
 

Step Two: Reality

 
In this step you want to begin challenging and changing your thoughts by using the reality thinking model. Upgrade your thinking by first looking at:

  • The reality of the situation – what is actually happening right now is what is happening. You cannot change how the past has unfolded and you cannot move forward with your future until you accept the present.
  • The reality of being a parent – there are going to be ups and downs as a parent. There are going to be times where your child is going through a developmental stage that is challenging and hard to deal with. This is not a reflection on you, this is the natural process of how a child develops. You did it to your parents and every child under the sun has gone through challenging periods in their life. We still go through challenging periods in our own personal growth, why would our children be any different? As a parent we are constantly growing, learning and adapting to how life is unfolding. This is a continual process and requires constant readjustment of thinking and actions.
  • The reality of life – Life too will have periods where it is smooth sailing and times when it feels like everything is not going to plan. These challenging times are not reflective of your entire life experience though. It is only reflective of right now. This is simply your time to learn and grow, and perhaps it won’t be so enjoyable, but not everything in your life is unenjoyable. This is where you need to start searching for the value in what happening, the benefit that is adding to your life, not detracting from your quality of life. What are you grateful for? Where is the ‘hidden good in the bad’? Expand your thinking about your life right now to consider what is going well in it so that you are not consumed by these tough moments. They are not ALL that is going on in your life.
  • The reality of self-worth – Your worth is not defined by experiences, it is defined by existence. Being a part of this world and this journey through life means that you learn, experience and develop and then pass on a part of you to the lives of other people and participate vital roles in their development. You don’t have to be, do or have anything in order to be 100% worthy. You already are because you are here now, doing what you do and being who you are.
    The trick in this part of the reality thinking model is to look for how you are contributing to your world and how you are learning and growing as a person which then benefits yourself and others.

    Let’s see how you would use this reality step in the context of our two examples:
     

    “My child is misbehaving all the time – tantrums, back chat, crying all the time etc”

    • The reality of the situation – My son is being challenging right now. This is where he is at in his development. There are going to be times when he is going to unreasonable, demanding, angry and disrespectful and I am going to have to find ways to deal with this, as it is not likely to change on its own, unless I accept this situation and work on actively doing something about it (steps 3-5 of the TRACK Process).
    • The reality of being a parent – Not everything will be rosey all of the time. Sometimes I’m going to experience ups and downs with my child and that’s normal. Just as there are unenjoyable times, there are enjoyable times to. There was that nice cuddle we had this morning when we woke up. Yesterday we made cakes together and that was nice [before it ended in a tantrum]. He laughed really hard at my silliness today and I really enjoyed listening to his laugh. Not everything about my experience with my son is bad. I need to be able to look at the whole picture, accept that he is learning and developing and at a challenging (and emotionally confused) age. It is not reflective of my entire parenting experience
    • The reality of life – What’s going on right now with my son is only a small part of my entire life, not the whole thing. It is a big part of my life right now, but it doesn’t define my existence. There are other parts of me that exist too. I have good relationships with my girlfriends, I have a partner who loves me, I have a home and food that I can appreciate. There are loads of things going well in my life too and my son’s behaviour does not make up everything that is going on in my life. There are ups and downs in my life in general and they are really just teaching me more about life. The hidden good in the bad is that when I learn how to deal with the behaviour I will be teaching my son appropriate behaviour which is going to assist in his development as a boy and as a man. I am also learning that I need to take some time out too and do things for me that help me to see that these times with my son do not make up all of who I am
    • The reality of my self-worth – I am as good a mother as I can be with the information that I have. I am always trying my best and am always learning how to be a better mother with every new challenge that comes my way. In terms of my son’s quality of life, he is getting what he needs for his development. I have been trying to give him the ‘perfect life’ because I have been perceiving that my childhood wasn’t that way. However there have been some great lessons that came from the childhood that I had. I learnt resilience, personal strength, self-reliance and how to be creative because I often had to go off and do things for myself. Just as there were good parts to my childhood, there will also be good lessons and experiences in my sons. Just like everyone else in the world, my son’s life will be full of ups and downs too. My job will not be to teach him to always need his life to go to plan in order to be worthy, but to teach him how to deal with his thinking when he doesn’t. This is my current lesson in life and I will learn it for myself and also be teaching it to him by being a part of his life. My self-worth is defined by the lessons I learn and by contributing to the lives of others’ (my son, partner, friends, family and even strangers too). I am a continual works in progress and am 100% worthy right now.
    •  
      Spend lots of time going over many different ways of looking at this challenging experience you are having right now. The key part to this reality step is to expand your mindset away from what is just happening right now. You need to accept what is happening right now, put it into perspective of your entire life (the goods and the bads), and find the value in it, all while reminding yourself of what truly defines self-worth.

      Let’s look at our second example of a ‘stressful’ situation:
       

      “My whole life is chaos right now”

      • The reality of the situation – There is no doubt about it. These are trying times right now. Everything does seem to be going on at once and sometimes that happens in life. The reality is that my children are at young ages where they are learning what is happening in the world. Because of the choices we have made for me to stay at home, instead of returning to work, we manage on one income which means a lot of financial juggling. In order to meet these needs, my husband is working long hours. Also, having two children is new to me and I’m learning how to adjust and manage everything. This is the present situation right now.
      • The reality of being a parent – These kids don’t know anything until they learn. They are at a challenging and demanding age because they can’t fend for themselves. As their mother it is my responsibility to teach them and help them. There are good times throughout motherhood and there are bad times where I’m not enjoying it. The bad times don’t define being a parent, they make up just a part of being a parent. I enjoy the sibling bonding of my toddler’s [sometimes] gentleness to his little sister. I enjoy cuddles, laughs and the times where things are running smoothly. Finally, I am learning to adjust to having two children and currently working on how to manage sleeps, house cleaning, being attentive, loving and also giving myself the time and attention I need. It’s not going to be forever that it is all chaotic. It’s just for now while I’m learning how to adjust.
      • The reality of life – Remember last year when we had that unexpected tax refund come in and we were able to go away for the weekend and relax? That formed part of my life. That weekend we had a ball. It was a temporary release from the financial pressures that were going through. My whole life has not been about struggles and demands. It’s just where I’m at right now in my journey. My children are young, we’re on one income and this whole experience is new. It won’t be like that forever. Eventually the kids will grow up, go to school, I’ll be back at work and things will return to normal. Right now though, I am fortunate to be home watching my children grow. I am grateful for being able to afford a home, have a husband who is working for us and providing the financial basics for me to raise our children without having to put them into care. There are lots of things going well in my life that I can be grateful for and I can see how this time in our life is beneficial because of what we are learning; time management, organisational skills, patience, enjoying the small amount of quality time my husband and I do get together, learning the value of a dollar because we are limited to what luxuries we can buy. In fact when I look at it, there are loads of things that I can appreciate and see value in.
      • The reality of my self-worth – I am always doing everything I know how to do with the information that I have. Right now I am learning how to juggle many responsibilities and that takes time. It’s not because I am not a very good wife or mother, it’s just a new period of my life that I’m adjusting to. I am still contributing to my child’s life and my husband’s life and their experience of me will influence their life and development. How do I know that my influence (whether I perceive it to be good or bad) isn’t actually teaching them something really valuable for their life? Not everything good means that my children will take away something good. There is value in everything, so all of my experiences with my children will provide some value for their life’s journey. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to work on my organisation and patience. It just means that right now, as I am learning all of these new ways to be a mum and a housewife (which is very different to my corporate career life) I am giving them the best I can and there will be value in that. My life, my child’s life and my partner’s life is always 100% worthy and all of us are always learning, growing and contributing no matter what is going on in our lives. There will always be ups and downs in all our lives. The down times do not reflect our life’s worth or our self-worth. They are simply moments in time that contribute to our overall learning that we receive by experiencing them, just as the good moments do too.
      •  
        I could spend pages and pages writing upgrades to the many different challenges and stressful events that occur in your life. However I have only showed you two examples for the purposes of time. When you do your own upgrading of thinking, if you get stuck, please head over to the Q&A Forum to ask your questions. Sometimes it can be difficult to get on a roll with the upgrades and you just need someone to start you off. I am here to do that for you, so please don’t do it all alone. I have developed this reality thinking model and still need to ask other coaches how I can look at a situation differently. Sometimes an objective perception of a situation from an outsider can tell you the most obvious and helpful things that you may have never seen.
         
        Now we get to the solution-focussed steps of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process. What are you going to do about your present situation. Now that you have accepted it and changed your perspective on your self-worth and can acknowledge the potential value in the situation, you now want to start doing something about it, so you can accelerate the amount of time spent enduring this challenge.

        Because the most important steps of this process are steps one and two and because I have spent quite a bit of time on our two examples already, I will only gloss over these final three steps and give you some general ideas (in relation to our examples) of what you could do. Go back to Weeks Seven, Eight and Nine to revise on how to do these final steps, or head over to our Q&A Forum to ask a question on how these steps relate to your specific circumstances, if you are unsure.
         

        Step Three – Aim

        What do you want? Now that you are faced with this current situation, what is the ideal scenario here that you can begin working on?

        In regards to the example of the challenging child, a good starting point would be to learn how to manage your child’s behaviour when it does become inappropiate.

        In regards to the ‘chaotic life’ example, this one would need to be broken down. There is the organisational aspect, the financial situation and the relationship aspect. All three of these would need separate aims to work on and find solutions for.

        Don’t forget in this step that it may be necessary to look over your aims and ask yourself our two key questions:

        • Why do I want it (this aim)?
        • Is my aim in conflict with reality?

         

        Step Four – Choices

        Where can I resource the solutions to get me to my aim? Book stores, parenting forums, videos, experts, other people who have been in my situation, online resources etc. Remember that there may not be just one solution. Perhaps many solutions integrated together will form the pathway to your aim.

        In regards to the example of the misbehaving child, resourcing information in regards to disciplinary techniques would be primary.

        In regards to the example of the ‘chaotic life’, I would resource the individual solutions for reaching each of these aims, then I would resource how I could incorporate all of the choices I made for getting there, into a time schedule so that I felt like I was organised, managing my time with the kids, the time given to housework, time with my partner and time for myself. NB – You can find out how to do this in the chapter under time out in The Happy Mum Handbook PDF you have access to as part of your membership
         

        Step Five – Know your Plan & Action it

        Put all of the choices you have together and create a step-by step plan of action that you can follow, measure your results, recognise your wins and move you out of this challenging situation and towards your goals.

        Make sure you remember to incorporate mirror affirmations to get rid of those unproductive memes that prevent you from getting what you want and remember to stay aware of your thinking so that you can continually realign your thoughts with reality and continue towards your aim.

         
        Stopping yourself from experiencing psychological stress is all about changing your thinking and finding solutions to your problems. Eliminate the self-worth component by accepting and understanding that these events that you feel are contributing to the stress, are only moments in time along your journey that is fiiled with good times also.

        The quicker you adopt this new reality thinking model-type approach to your challenges, set your aims and continue to work on them, the quicker these challenging times move on and you have more fun times to experience.

        In tomorrow’s lesson I will teach you how we can apply the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to Depression.

Week Eleven / Day Three – Depression: “Why Bother. I am a failure.”

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

The fundamental, underlying belief at the core of depression is the perception of absolute worth-less-ness. Believing that what you are doing in life, whether it be one area of life, or all areas of life, is not meeting your expectations because of your own fault. Your perception over your lack of ability to get your life ‘right’ makes you feel like you have failed at your life (or that area of it).

When talking about postnatal depression you feel like this predominantly in the area of motherhood.
Before depression, you first begin at psychological stress where you draw the conclusion that ‘life is not going to plan’ and your life’s quality or your self-worth has diminished because of it.

You are in direct conflict with the reality of these situations occurring in your life because you are stuck on the way it was ‘supposed to go’.

When you progress into depression, your self-worth is at its lowest. You have concluded that because life has not ‘gone to plan’, you have failed at life. Through this lens of thinking, you start to see that every time you try to succeed in this area of your life, you fail again and again and again, so you start to give up. You think ‘why bother trying, I will only fail again.’

As I have mentioned before, we are all operating with the fundamental desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain. Viewing your life through the perception of you constantly failing causes much pain. It’s not a good feeling to feel like you’ve failed at something, especially when you are talking about motherhood, where most of us have been taught ‘should’ be the most natural thing in the world.

If you feel like you have failed in an area of your life, that causes you pain and in order to stop that pain, you stop setting goals in this area of your life. You are protecting what little self-worth you have by avoiding doing anything in the area of your life that you feel like you are failing at.
 

An explanation of how depression leads to suicidal thoughts

Suicidal thoughts begin when your self-worth has reached an all time low. For the purposes of this explanation, let’s say that you believe that you are only 20% worthy and you have depression already. You feel this way because you feel you have failed in an area of your life. Events have not gone the way you expected them to and you feel like you are to blame. You feel that you should be doing something different. Perhaps you feel like your child is missing out on the mother they deserve. You feel like a useless partner, or perhaps unattractive or undesirable. And you have a long list of self-criticisms to describe your inabilities and shortcomings.

Because your attention expands in the direction that you send it, through this lens of how you perceive yourself and the events of your life, you start to see more and more evidence of you being this ‘failure’ and all areas of your life and all of the other self-critical ‘labels’ you place on yourself. This causes you more and more pain. You begin to see every area of your life taking more and more of your self-worth away.

The more you view life this way, the more you start to feel only 15% worthy, then 10% worthy, until finally you start to think about ending your life. The rationale behind these thoughts are either:

a) I need to leave this life before I am worth absolutely nothing to anyone; or
b) The thought of going through any more of this pain and feeling any more worth-less than I already do is too painful in itself, so you start to think about exiting the world.

Suicide occurs because of incorrect perceptions on self-worth to begin with and because of beliefs about what defines a successful life.

In order to reverse these thoughts and feelings you need to start seeing why you are valuable to this world, what you contribute that is beneficial. Everyone is always contributing to this world, just by being in it and the more you start to look for how you are valuable and how you’re contributing to the world, the better you will feel.

If you have suicidal thoughts then you need to literally reverse the process of how it came to be this way. To get to suicidal thoughts you were viewing how each event was taking away your self-worth. To stop suicidal thoughts, you need to start looking for how each event is adding to your self-worth by seeing how special you are.

This can be extremely difficult to do sometimes, so if you are feeling suicidal than it is really important that you speak to somebody who can help you to find why you are great just the way you are and help you to see how your existence is valuable to the world.

This at least, will get you back to the point of just having depression again, whereby you can start to apply the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process and move out of depression altogether, which is what I’m going to show you now.
 

Applying the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process to your Depression

 

Step One: Thoughts

Identify your thinking. What are you saying to yourself about the situation? These are the memes that are causing your depression. With postnatal depression, it is all about your self-worth and how your lack of abilities and qualities (in your mind) are detracting from your quality of life, or how your quality of life is effecting your enjoyment of life.

Clouded by all of this thinking, you struggle to see any value in yourself or your worth and give up trying too. This type of thinking has been handed to you primarily from childhood. It can often happen too over time, because of an abusive husband, or even a passive aggressive partner who has ridiculed you over time to the point where you eventually take on his opinions as truth.

Regardless of when and how it has occurred, you now have habitual thinking that has been essentially trained to see you as being a failure no matter what you do, so your self-esteem (your rating system) is at an all time low.

Understand that this is NOT truth. Remember that this first step is about awareness and detachment. Become aware of these thoughts and remind yourself that they are occurring only because of the physical neural connections in the brain that have been formed over time because you have been exposed to the repetition of specific statements or environmental conditions. Because of this, you have been taught to view life through this lens and though this lens, experiences you have confirms and strengthens these beliefs (and the physical neural connections in the brain) and you believe them to be truth.

You must spend most of your time working on the upgrades to this thinking (the reality thinking model) in order to grow new connections in your brain and for the old ones to literally die off (called synapses pruning). It is really important to your ability to detach from your thinking to remember the physical process of your thinking so that you can understand why you think this way.

Understanding why you think this way stops you attaching this thinking to your self-worth. You are not broken. Your brain is not malfunctioning. You have simply been consistently fed wrong information that has brought you to incorrect conclusions about your self-worth and the way life ‘should’ be

Now what needs to happen is to be consistent and repetitive with applying The Mind TRACK to Happiness process, focussing on the reality thinking model, setting goals (without attaching them to your self-worth) and finding solutions that will get you to your goals, and develop the ability to learn from the times when you don’t get to your goals and simply re-set some more.

Do not spend a lot of time ‘rolling in the mud’ of your past. What has happened has happened. I would suggest that when you are feeling at your lowest, to write 1-2 paragraphs at the most about what you are thinking, then move onto the reality step. You have rehashed your thinking for long enough and going over and over these same thoughts is only re-inforcing the physical beliefs in your brain that you are trying to get rid of.

It’s time to replace that thinking by deliberately and consciously changing how your view your life.
 

Step Two – Reality

Once you have written your two paragraphs (at the most), now apply the reality thinking model to your life.

I am not using specific examples in this lesson, as there are usually many different factors that contribute to somebody feeling like they are a complete failure. Unplanned c-sections, not being able to breastfeed, lack of sleep, an unsettled child, financial burdens, relationship problems, family issues, moving to a new area and not knowing anyone, adjusting to the change of life from career to motherhood, body issues and so on. It is usually a mixture of all of these things going on at once that makes someone feel like giving up on everything.

In light of this, I will show you how to use the reality thinking model in general to give you ideas on how you can begin upgrading your own thinking in reference to your unique situation. Again, this is the point where I urge you to use the Q&A Forum to get help on how to apply it to your life if you are having difficulty.
 

The reality of the situation

Whatever is happening in your life, it is occurring because of everything that has unfolded in your past leading to now and cannot be changed. This situation or situations are here now and you have to begin accepting their presence in order to move forward from here. By acceptance I don’t mean that you can’t do something about them. It simply means acknowledging that what you are experiencing has occurred and you had no control over how it unfolded.

If you continue to roll around it thoughts about how ‘wrong’ this situation is, how it’s not ‘supposed to be this way’, how it should be different, how much you are missing out, or your child is missing out, how if only you had’ve done this, or had’ve done that, or perhaps this person should have behaved this way, or if only your child would behave in a certain way etc, then it will only keep you entrenched in depression.

Whatever is in your life right now, is in your life for a reason and there will be benefits to this situation that you are not seeing. But before you can begin seeing their benefits you must first stop being in denial about what’s happening.

If you had a c-section, then you had a c-section. It’s done. You have now moved out of the labour stage and are now in the raising stage of being a parent.

If you are struggling to breastfeed and have to give it up, then that’s what need to happen. Your child needs to be fed and if you are unable to do it for any reason, then alternatives must be sought. This is reality.

If you have a child not sleeping well, then this is the reality that you now have to deal with. What’s the solution?

If you have limited finances right now, then this is where you are at because of what unfolded in the past. You can move on from here and create it to be different in the solution part of this process, but right now this is where you are at, and that cannot be changed.

If your relationship is struggling or has ended, then this is what has occurred also because of how the past has unfolded. There were the two of you contributing to the unfolding of this relationship, only able to operate with the beliefs, knowledge and priorities that you had AT THE TIME, and your experiences of life and each other have all merged together to this point in time right now. This is reality. So what is your next move?

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Reality is what is happening right now which has occurred from before now which is unchangeable. So let’s move forward and change your perception of what’s happening right now.
 

The reality of being a parent

It’s a HUGE learning curve this parenting business…absolutely huge. It changes you physically, mentally, emotionally, morally and ethically. You are never the same person you were before you had children. Everything in your life changes and sometimes this can be very difficult to adjust to, especially if you have your self-worth pinned to aspects of the person you used to be like the career woman, the slim and attractive one, the organised one or the affluent one. If you believe that this is what defines your worth and you are unable to live out these roles anymore, than this can be good grounds for depression also.

Using the reality of being a parent portion of the reality thinking model is about being able to acknowledge and accept the new responsibilities and situations that come with being a parent. The reality is that you now have a child and your life has changed. There will be good time with your child and bad times that you will experience, just like anything else that happens in life (career, relationships etc).

Your child will develop, go through good periods of behaviour, bad periods of behaviour, bring you joy, cause you grief, make you want to cuddle them, make you want to throttle them and give you an overall experience unlike any other experience in the world.

With that you will make sacrifices but you will also gain a lot of pleasure. However, it will always come down to how you are percieving this experience. If you allow yourself to get tied up in the little moments that challenge you and allow these moments to define your whole experience of being a mother, than you will learn to resent and dislike this role.

You’ve got to look at each experience with your child (good and bad) as part of the whole parenting experience. This is the whole point to expanding your mindset with the Reality thinking model.
 

The reality of Life

Ups and downs, learning and contributing: This is what life is all about. The whole purpose of life is to learn and grow, building the character of who you are and teaching others as you go. It’s not about getting life right 24/7.

We are bombarded with ideas, beliefs and imagery that teach us to hinge our life’s success on what we do, are or have, making us believe that we must ‘get life right’. This is not reality!!! We all mess up. We all have to learn new things, that often come with new information and new experiences, and none of us are ever getting everything right. At the same time we are experiencing good times too and there is always something that we can be grateful for in our lives. It all depends on how you look at it.

At this point on the reality thinking model you need to expand your mindset to looking at the ‘hidden good in the bad’, looking for what you are grateful for and seeing this current event as just a part of the whole experience of ups, downs and learning you get from living life.

There is no right or wrong way for your life to unfold, there is just the unfolding of life and the lessons you get while living it.

You can see that as you keep expanding your mindset, your thinking gets less about the current situation and more about the reality of what this situation really means about your life. Life is a journey of ups and downs. You win some, you lose some. You are good at some things naturally, where other things you need to seek out the information you need and practice it to get good at it.

This is exactly what I had to do with my own thinking. Over my life I adopted unhealthy thinking that led to my postnatal depression and I’m guessing, since you are here right now reading this, that you are in the same boat.

Keep expanding your mindset and deliberately shifting your attention onto the reality thinking model and you will begin to change how you feel.
 

The reality of Self-worth

Here’s the big one to get your head around for the depression sufferer. You are 100% worthy just the way you are! I know, I know, I have said this a thousand times before in this program.

Now you need to actively seek out why. I could repeat that statement until I was blue in the face, but until you see evidence of it for yourself, you will not believe me. The evidence is there, my friend. You just need to look for it.

Look for how you are contributing to someone else’s life. Look for how you have contributed to something in the past to someone’s life. Look for what you do in your life to make something function. For example, in the home, you cook and keep your children/husband healthy. You clean up and keep the place hygienic. You speak to your friends and contribute your knowledge, opinions, ideas and observations that influence their decisions, opinions, knowledge and how their life unfolds. You may contribute to the work place. You contribute just by being a consumer and buying food, clothes, entertainment, paying bills, supporting your favourite footy team. No company or group can exist without the members that contribute to its function. Everything you do forms part of the collective whole. You don’t have to be, do or have anything in order to be worthy. You are already an important role player in society because of your existence.

Your self-worth always being 100% is often easy to grasp in concept, but what stops you believing it? Only your self-esteem – your learnt rating system that has habitually been taught not to view yourself this way. The way to increase your self-esteem (improve your rating system) is to continue to consciously put your attention on the benefits to your situation, looking for the ‘hidden good in the bad’ and finding ways that you are personally contributing to the very situation that you belief makes you worth-less.

Remember that just because the situation is not ideal or not matching your beliefs on how it ‘should’ be, it doesn’t mean that everyone involved is suffering or that it won’t prove to be a very important lesson learnt.

Applying step two of the Mind TRACK To Happiness process – reality is probably the most important step for you to do if depression is what you are going through. You must continue to work on deliberately and consciously changing your mindset if you want it to go away.

Depression often goes away for people after the event has corrected itself, only to discover that it comes back again the next time a series of events occurs that is ‘not in the plan’. This makes it look like it is events that cause the depression, but it is the same mindset that is not accepting the current situation and viewing it to mean that you are a failure because the events have unfolded this way.

Change your beliefs and you change how you feel, then you stop your depression for good.

Once you have changed the way you view your present life’s situations, you can then move onto steps three to five of the process.
 

Step Three – Aim

The most crucial part of the aim step to remember, if you are a depression sufferer, is that achieving a goal or aim does not define your existence.

All you ever have in life is experiences. Some go well, others not so much. Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don’t and other times you have to find numerous ways to get there, but you do get there in the end and then other times, your window of opportunity passes altogether.

This is all part of the reality of life unfolding, not an indication of your life’s worth or your self-worth. That kind of attachment is just society’s ‘get your life right’ thinking kicking in.

Whether you get the goal, don’t get the goal and on your way to the goal, you are learning, growing and contributing what you have learnt to the unfolding of the people around you and subsequently, the collective world.

So set an aim, go for it, try your hardest to get it, but don’t attach your self-worth to it and believe you are a failure if it doesn’t come to fruition. Remember that there is value in everything, you just need to search for it.

So knowing this, set your aims and use your questions to check them before moving on.

  1. Why do I want this (my aim)?
  2. Is my aim in conflict with reality?

 

Step Four – Choices

Seek out ‘how to’ achieve your aims. If you knew how to get where you wanted to be, you woud probably be there by now. What you need is new information to apply. So, go ahead and find it. We cannot be expected to know everything there is to know about life, and none of us do, so rather than wait for the information to come to you to resolve itself, get out there and actively seek the information you need in order to get yourself moving towards the aims and life that you want to live.

Don’t wait for anyone else to be responsible for your life!

Get out there and learn from all the resources you can find – books, internet, experts, people who have been on your leg of the journey before that can help you. Anywhere that has information pertaining to your subject – research it, find it, test your beliefs on it and collate a list of all the things that you think could help you to reach your aim.
 

Step Five – Know your plan & action it

Your final step on this process is to Action your plan. Devise your choices from the last step into an actionable plan that you can follow.

Do-able steps is what you are looking for. A plan that you can use like a road map, just like if you were going to get in your car and drive to a new destination. However, be aware that sometimes you have to detour. If there were some roadworks on your way to your new destination you would need to find an alternative route. Sometimes this happens in life too.

Just go back to step four on the TRACK process – choices and resource a new plan of attack. Nothing is set in stone and the key to happiness lies in flexibility and non-attachment.
 
 
Overcoming your depression is simple in concept. The 5-step Mind TRACK to happiness process shows you exactly how to overcome your personal postnatal depression.

However, it’s not easy. There is nothing anyone can ever tell you or teach you that is going to miraculously cure you. This is because YOU are the only one that can change your life. YOU are the only one that has control over what goes on in your head, so YOU are the only cure for depression.

So keep working on your mindset. Keep reading new information, books and articles about how to change this thinking. Keep applying the reality thinking model and any other exercises you come across along your way that will help you to grow these new neural connections in your brain and change the habitual thinking to be thoughts that align with the happiness that you are after.

I’ve been through what you are going through right now. I’ve had to do the work. I’ve had to change my mindset and I’m still working on that as a daily process. But it does get easier as you do it more consistently.

In tomorrow’s lesson, we will take a look at anxiety and how we use the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to stop it.

Week Eleven / Day Four – Anxiety – “I Must control & prevent”

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

I believe that anxiety related stress is the on the rise in today’s society. This is because of the constant bombardment of information from peers, media, family etc that associates achievement with self-worth and the need to ‘get our lives right’ in order to feel worthy.

Anxiety is the exact opposite of depression. With anxiety there are loads of goals on the agenda of the sufferer, where as depression, goals are given up on and disregarded. Both however, as usual, have their roots in the perception of self-worth.

When you ‘do’ anxiety, you are in the constant pursuit of CONTROL. You believe that you are able to influence your world so that you can get your life to go according to your plan and you will do whatever it takes to get life to go that way.

The truth, however, is that you cannot control how life unfolds. Let me say that again:
 

You cannot control how life unfolds!

 
Remember that statement because this statement is ultimately the upgraded thinking that will stop your anxiety dead in its tracks!!

Whoops, hang on a second. Yes, here they come – your objections beginnning to stream in already. “But I can control some things”, you may say.

While it seems like you have control over some things, the reality is that you don’t. You cannot influence how your life unfolds because you can never have control over every element of all of the influences that determines an outcome.

Sure, you could decide to go from her to the sink to get a glass of water, and if you succeed, you might consider that this success was in your control. However, did you control the child who decided to sit and watch TV instead of coming into the kitchen with his skateboard at the precise moment you went to get that drink, knocking you over and breaking your wrist?

Of course, that didn’t happen because you were successful in getting your drink without your wrist being broken, but was that because you controlled it, or was it simply because your child didn’t do that at that particular time?

The reality that you must come to terms with in order to overcome anxiety, is that you cannot control your life no matter how good you think you are, because there are so many factors that are out of your control.

You may set an aim and achieve it, but that wasn’t because you were able to control it. You may have the correct information and plan of attack that gets you to a certain outcome, but that doesn’t mean that you will get there, regardless of how many other ‘goals’ (preventions) you put into place as back up plans.
 

The self-worth component to anxiety

 
If you ‘do’ anxiety, it is because you believe you must CONTROL (and you belive you can control) your life in order for it to go right and PREVENT anything that poses as a threat to you achieving your goals.

You go into surveillence mode, searching for these potential threats to your goals’ fruition, so that you can put even more measures in place to assure your success and PREVENT any loss of CONTROl where you may have to experience life not going to plan.

Anxiety occurs after you have first experienced stress, whether it is recent stress, or stress that occurred many years ago. At some point you have experienced a time in your life where you have had life not go to plan and you believe that this experience has devalued your life (made it worth-less).

In order to overcome this time in your life, you have vowed NEVER to let it happen again and now you are attempting to stop anything from going ‘wrong’ in your life.

Sometimes you don’t even have to have experienced the actual stress, but have witnessed other people’s lives not go to plan, perceive their events to mean that their life has been devalued (made worth-less) by that event and fear that your life may end up the same if you do not put appropriate measures in place to stop the same thing happening to you.

All of this CONTROL and PREVENTION comes from the incorrect perception that there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live and if you do not CONTROL your life so that you live the right way, then your life will become worth-less to some degree.

In order to avoid that you set lots of goals to PREVENT that from happening.

Anxiety has its roots in fear. Fear that my life could be lessened in quality if I don’t CONTROL or PREVENT and get it to ‘go to plan’ (according to my beliefs). It is neglectful of the reality of self-worth and ignorant to the truth that no matter how life unfolds you are always worthwhile, and the reality of life that there are always going to be ups and downs, and with that comes learning and value. No event is meaningless.
 

Common ways anxiety presents itself

 

Trying to control your child’s life

It’s a sobering thought, but when it comes to your children, you cannot control how their lives unfold either. Postpartum Anxiety can often be a result of the change becoming a parent is to your life. Suddenly reality kicks in that you are responsible for your child’s life and, of course, you only want what’s best for your child.

Perhaps you had a traumatic childhood yourself and are determined that your child does not experience anything like the childhood you had, so you go into CONTROL and PREVENT in order to stop any bad experiences happening to your child.

Perhaps you were sick as a child, or your child was sick in the beginning of his/her life and now you are putting extreme measures (goals) in place so they will never be sick again.

Or perhpas you are just determined that they be raised a certain way (based on your beliefs about the ‘right’ way to raise a child) and are determined that nothing will get in your way.

The reality is though that it doesn’t matter how much you attempt to control things, life has a way of tossing in a curve ball here and there, and this is not through your inability to control. It is simply because that is a reality of life.

We all experience ups and downs, and so will your child. Your job is not to prevent anything ‘bad’ from happening to your child (with the exception of basic safety and common sense, of course), but to help them to understand how to deal with things when they do experience challenges.

Because let’s say you do manage to shield them from ever having a life experience that’s challenging and they get to school where you are not always around, or worse, become an adult and fend for themselves. You have taught them to control and prevent, not deal with life’s ups and downs. They won’t know what to do when (not if) they experience pain and challenges in their lives and will struggle anyway.

You are not protecting them by protecting them from having challenging experiences in life.

Of course, I must irriterate that I’m not telling you to expose them to abuse, neglect or unsafe conditions so that they learn to grow up, I am talking about the day-to-day over-reactional anxiety that can occur – watching your child sleeping excessively to make sure they are alive, washing their hands every two seconds to prevent illness, stopping them from riding a bike, or playing games that teach them to trust their own abilities for fear of them getting hurt, or putting any extreme measures in place that come from a fear that you have.

If you are wondering how to draw the line between what is extreme measures and what is not, take notice of your own fears. Any goals that are set with fear behind it are anxiety related and need to be upgraded. After upgrading your thinking, you may still set the same goal, but you will have a different perception of the situation that may just change how you handle it.
 

Taking on too much

This is a common issue for mums, especially the working mum. You can ‘do’ anxiety because you believe that you must be responsible for every aspect of your life all the time. Being a mum, being the house cleaner, being a career woman, being the wife, being the dutiful daughter, a good friend.

The case may be that there are lots of tasks that you need to do in your life and if you have your self-worth invested in all of these things, then it is good grounds for anxiety. You start to feel stressed because you are not able to be all things to all areas of your life (life not going to plan – psychological stress). You then start to think that you ‘have to’ (must) be better and do more (control) to meet all of these expectations. However, life often keeps getting in the way, PREVENTING you from being able to do everything that you need to and you start stressing even more. Now the bodily reaction to your thoughts kicks in and you start to panick, sweat, feel dizzy and become overwhelmed with an anxiety attack.

Underlying this whole scenario is your need to live up to a perceived expectation in order to be deemed worthy, successful, approved of and/or accepted, totally negating your inherent 100% worth regardless of whether you do and be all of these things.

A redevelopment of your mindset needs to be implemented.
 

I’m worried about dying, or I’m worried my child will die

This is a common thought with anxiety sufferers and unfortunately there is no warm and fuzzy answer that I can give you. When your anxiety is rooted in thoughts like this, you are in direct conflict with the reality that none of us know when our time is up.

You cannot control how long you or your child is here for and all you can do is keep bringing your attention back to the present moment where you are both here and find aspects to it that you enjoy so you can savour it.

Ultimately there is the self-worth component still present in thoughts such as these. Believing that you are dying, obviously is a major breach of your self-worth from your perspective, because you will not be here. However the reality is that you cannot control when your time is up and when you do leave you (depending on your beliefs) won’t know about it anyway, or will be moving on to a better place anyway where you will eventually meet up with your children at a later date.

The other aspect to the self-worth component is if your child was to pass on. Yes, you would grieve. Yes, it would probably be the hardest journey of your life, and yes I am almost in tears myself to even consider that my child would leave this earth before me, however it has happened before to parents and they have survived and they have learnt from it.

It is not what you would ever want for your life, but nor is any of the other unpleasantries that come into it either, but we learn from them, we pick up the pieces and we move on and we then contribute what we have learnt from these pivotal moments and help other people with our newfound knowledge. This is what life is all about.

You cannot control how your child’s life unfolds and you cannot prevent death. It is a reality of life we must all deal with.

It is all the more reason why we need to address and change our mindset whenever these thoughts arise. How much of your life and your child’s life are you going to spend thinking about what ‘could’ happen? You have to start training your mind to look at what is happening right now and enjoy that.

Find and savour in what you are grateful for in your life, for the lessons your children are giving you NOW, the experiences you are having NOW and for all the wonderful things that you have NOW. NOW is all you ever have. The past doesn’t exist and nor does the future unless you create it in your mind NOW.
 

Using the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process for Anxiety

 

Step One – Thoughts

Chances are you are already very aware of the thinking going on in your head when you are feeling anxious, so the awareness part of this step is self-evident. So the next part is detachment. Once again it is your memes kicking in that make you believe that you can CONTROL how life unfolds and that if life unfolds ‘wrongly’, then your life will suffer and be worth-less.

This is the thinking that needs to be corrected. Writing short 1-2 paragraphs about your thoughts is still useful though, for getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you are likely to be more objective about them, but Step Two of the TRACK process is where change is really going to make a difference.
 

Step Two – Reality

The reality of the situation

To use the Reality Thinking model for your anxiety, you need to pull your attention right into the now and challenge those thoughts that are causing you to feel anxious.

This is going to be quite confronting sometimes because you are going to have to face up to some strong fears that you have, because anxiety is all about fear.

Ask yourself: What is the worst case scenario that I am fearing here? Can I really control what is happening right now? How many things could happen right now that I would have no control over? Is it possible that I could put all of these measures in place and the thing I fear still happens?

Once you have contemplated the answers to these questions, you need to upgrade your thinking by reminding yourself “I cannot control how life unfolds.

This will need to be a mirror affirmation to incorporate into your plan for overcoming anxiety for sure. It is to be used in conjunction with other affirmations that will come from the rest of the reality thinking model.
 

The reality of being a parent

My child will experience ups and downs, just like I do. This is part of their learning through life. Has everything I have experienced that was perceivably bad actually been all bad. Have I not learnt some valuable lessons too? It’s okay for your child to experience challenges and hard times. We don’t want it for them, but we can’t prevent everything for them either.

The reality is that kids need to experience hard times under our care, so that we can teach them how to deal with them and arm them with adequate information for them to apply it to their lives as they get older and aren’t under our care.

As a parent we will experience our children go through developmental challenges and emotional challenges that will cause us grief, worry and conflict sometimes. We can’t control that either. It is a normal part of a child’s development and nothing you do will prevent these situations from happening between parent and child on occassions. All you can do is learn how best to deal with them as they arise by following the next steps on the TRACK process.

Also, in terms of the busyness of day-to-day life, we must accept that some things take longer than others because of the time it takes to deal with them. When children are younger, they take a lot of time and are reliant on their parents for their care. This means that you cannot be all things to all people because you will just need to be one thing to your child.

This is the reality of being a parent and these times need to be factored into the rest of your life. You can only do so many things at one time
 

The reality of life

Telling yourself ‘I cannot control how life unfolds’ is not enough. You probably already know this to a degree, but still find yourself trying to irrationally control it, or feeling helplessly out of control when you can’t.

This is because you are focussing your attention on the fear of having something go ‘wrong’ in your life. You are still believing that there is a ‘wrong’ way for your life to unfold. Whenever you find yourself focussing on ‘what ifs’ and trying to pre-empt your life, simply acknowledge this thinking and bring it back to reality.

Focus on the what’s great about right now, what is working well, what you can be grateful for. It can even be useful to try and pre-empt that life will go to plan. How do you know that life is going to turn out awful if you don’t control? With anxiety, you are of the mindset that you know how your life ‘should’ go and that if it didn’t go that way then you would be worse off. But how do you know this? How do you know that what you are preventing could actually be an experience that leads you to the most joy you ever had?

The key to stopping anxiety is to teach your mind to be flexible about life and to not attach your worth to any outcomes. All experiences form a chain of good and bad times. The good lead to bad, the bad lead to good. You cannot control this, as this is life….for everyone.

You don’t get to control life and no matter what you do, you will inevitably have good times and bad. Just look at what your need to control is actually doing to you. Are you having a good time when you are anxious? I doubt that. How is this control and prevent world of yours working for you?

Bottomline is, you can’t control life and trying to is only going to make you feel miserable. It may however be a very strongly ingrained habit of thinking that sends you into anxiety. Perhaps you aren’t even aware of the thoughts that trigger anxiety attacks or panic attacks. They are so ingrained that they are just there.

This happened with my husband. We spent many months analysing his thoughts, feelings, events and how he was perceiving life to come up with the trigger to his nightly panic attacks and we ended up tracking it back to anxiety over money. His beliefs about money and providing for his family were so firmly entrenched that he would only have to think about finding money to pay a bill, or to have a passing thought about not having the money to do what he wanted, for the indigestion to start later on that night and the panic attack over the indigestion to take over.

After working out what the trigger was, he was then able to overcome the panic attacks with consistent altering of the conversation in his mind about money.

Use the reality thinking model as often as possible to counteract any thinking that is in conflict with reality. The reality of life is ups and downs, there is value in every experience we have and learning will be gained from life too.
 

The reality of self-worth

I’ve said it numerous times, but I will say it again. It doesn’t matter how your life unfolds, you will always be worthwhile. This is something that you need to retrain your mind to believe, because right now if you are suffering anxiety, it ultimately comes from the fear that something or some event can potentially lessen your quality of life or self-worth.

You have to start reviewing your life’s events from the past and showing yourself the value that has come from the highs and the lows in order to start seeing that everything has value. Start looking at how other people’s adversities have become their blessings.

Remember the stories that I told you about Daniel Morcombe’s kidnapping and how his parents are now helping millions of other families to fight against abduction, and the September 11 story that has effected so many people in positive ways. Should it have happened? No, but the reality is that it did, and the flow on effect was not all about tragedy and loss.

Your life is not all about tragedy and loss. Your future will not be all about tragedy and loss, but it would be a great shame if you went through the rest of your life feeling the way you are, fruitlessly trying to control the uncontrollable.

Stop these memes by committing to being vigilant about repeating new thinking over and over again, becoming aware of your thinking and changing it at every chance you get. Create new neural connections of thinking that align with the reality thinking model and you will soon find yourself thinking this way by habit.

This is the only way to stop anxiety (other than medication of course) for good.
 

Step Three – Aims

Anxiety thinkers have absolutely no problem with setting goals. The problem is that they set too many of them out fear and have their self-worth heavily attached to their fruition, sending them into even more severe anxiety as they try even harder to get life to go back ‘on track’ once they deviate from their plan (by uncontrollable events), or potentially go into depression when they have not been able to control and prevent, because they now feel like a failure.

Don’t stop setting goals though. Having aims inspires us, keeps us motivated and sets our lives in motion to learn, grow and contribute even more to life.

What you need to do though is make sure you are relentless at testing your goals with our two questions:

  1. Why do I want it (my aim)?

    Look for any feelings of fear or self-worth when answering these questions. What is really motivating you to set your aim? What is your payoff?

  2. Is what I want in conflict with reality?

    Look for ways you are trying to control the uncontrollable. Challenge your aims and your thinking behind setting them.

 

Step Four – Choices

 
Resource the different options and choices you have for getting to your aims, as taught, but again, you will have to be relentless in the testing phase of making your choices.

If your priorities for doing something are based on fear, you will have to stay vigilant in upgrading your thinking surrounding this fear.

Once you begin to become aware of the thinking behind anxiety, and learn to look for specific CONTROL and PREVENT language in your mindset, you will begin to see it everywhere, driving your decisions and actions and infecting your whole existence. No wonder you have been having anxiety or panic attacks!

Similarly you have to be just as relentless with your deliberate upgrading of this thinking in order to drown it out the old memes and make your new thinking the new habit over time.
 

Step Five – Know your plan & action it

This final step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is to follow your plan for getting to your aim. As you follow the steps that you have decided on that you believe will take you to your aim, stay aware of how you are thinking and whether you are attaching your self-worth to the outcome.

Let your feelings be your guide. How are you feeling about each step? If you are starting to feel anxious, or out of control, challenge your thinking. Why do you feel this way? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Would it be the end of your world if it did? How do you know this to be true? Is there a possibility that you might bounce back from your worst case scenario that you are fearing so much? Is it possible that your biggest fear could be your biggest blessing if it were to happen.

Flexibility and detachment will be your friends to overcome anxiety. As you go through your journey through life, learn to think of yourself as a palm tree. It is strong in its roots, but is flexible to the elements. When faced with cyclonic winds it bends and moves with the storm. It may lose a few leaves in it’s time, but they grow back and the palm tree remains strong. This is a good analogy to take through to your life, as it reminds you to be flexible too.

 
 
At the end of the day, anxiety can be a difficult one to overcome. We live in this ‘get your life right’ world which reinforces that we should be able to CONTROL and PREVENT. Entire marketing campaigns are built on this premise. Inventions are made with the agenda of making life easier, less difficult and more enjoyable.

While there is nothing wrong with this, we must always keep in mind the fundamental understanding of life to keep us away from anxiety:

You cannot control how life unfolds and it doesn’t matter how life unfolds there is value in everything and your self-worth can never be compromised. You are always 100% worthy…and so is your life.

In tomorrow’s lesson we will take a look at anger and how to use the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to stop it. Be sure to head over to the Q&A Forum to ask any question you have about how to apply this lesson to your life.

Week Eleven / Day Five – Stopping Anger with the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

A girlfriend of mine who is a mother of three said to me one day, “I’ve never known myself to be so angry”.

This, I could totally relate to. Before having children, I was probably a little impatient, but I was nowhere near prepared for the inability to control my anger after having my two children. It threw me for a six to realise that I wasn’t that naturally calm, patient and loving mother that I had expected myself to be, but instead was quite often a fire breathing dragon lady who could be triggered at any given moment by the smallest (and most seemingly insignificant) thing.

Unfortunately my girlfriend and I are not alone. Motherhood anger is very common and can end up being very harmful, both to your child and to your own general and psychological health.

You may have read in my book, The Happy Mum Handbook, the turning point in my life when I realised something had to change. This was the day that I got so angry that I slammed a knife on the bench and it went sailing in the air, landing right beside my then two year old.

It was a sobering moment that made me realise that I could no longer allow my anger to consume me like it had. Not only was it potentially dangerous to my child, but it was sending me on this roller coaster ride of getting angry, feeling guilty over my anger as I observed its effects on my children and then spiralling into self-hatred and self-disgust.

I have experienced all too well what it feels like to ride that pendulum between anxiety and depression. Feeling like I needed to control my child’s behaviour and prevent them from whingeing, crying, fighting, being noise, messy and generally interrupting whatever it was that I believed should have been happening.

Then, when I realised I had lost the battle, the frustration I was feeling began to turn into anger until it needed to be released. It was done so in the form of yelling, throwing things (not at the children), slamming doors and occassionally smacking my child. It was not my finest hours when this was occurring, but none the less, they were there, once again, ready for the most important lessons of my life to be taught.

Do I still get angry? Of course I do. But I can honestly say that the intensity of my anger and the flow on effects on my children have dramatically been diffused and that is all thanks to the application of my self-created Mind TRACK to Happiness process.

In today’s lesson I want to show you specifically how you can use this TRACK process to stop your angry outbursts too. So let’s begin:
 

Step One – Thoughts

It gets really interesting when you begin to apply step one to your anger, because you start to become two different people.

When I began observing what I was saying in the heat of the moment, it was like there was one part of me doing the yelling, tantruming and blowing up over the situation, and there was the other part that was observing it curiously, taking note of what I was saying to myself and exactly what I was saying that was causing the explosion within me. It was a very insightful exercise.

What I found though was that all of my thinking was in direct conflict with what was actually happening. I had a picture in my mind of the expected scenario. For example, I would envisage that at 12 noon, I would have both of my children sleeping, leaving me for some much needed rest and recreation (or house cleaning) for two blissful hours.

Often one of them would not sleep this long and interrupt ‘my time’, causing me to feel very frustrated to say the least. This would probably set the whole precedence for the rest of the afternoon and would be enough to send my entire mindset into complete nonacceptance of my now awake son.

“I can’t believe he’s awake. I was supposed to have another 1/2 hour left of ‘my time’. Why can’t I just have them leave me alone. Why is he awake. Now he’s gonna be cranky and I’m gonna have to deal with him all afternoon. Steve [husband] is not home for another 6 hours and it’s going to feel like forever. I just wanted to have this time to relax and now I have to get up already.”

An early waking child, meant he would be cranky, throw tantrums, become demanding and there was no pleasing him really, which didn’t do anything for my current mindset that was still rolling around in how ‘wrong’ this situation was and how I was still missing out on the time I was meant to have for myself.

This would of course spiral into an assumption about my whole life. “I’ve had enough of having to deal with all this. Why is my life so hard. I don’t want to spend my whole life dealing with this crap all day. I just want to be the person I used to be…….” and on and on it would go until finally that release was needed and I would scream, yell or slam something down, then break down in tears.

All of this, simply because I did not accept that my current situation had changed and had become different to the desired and imagined expectation. Furthermore I deemed that this difference in expectation to reality meant something about me and my life.

In the first step of the TRACK process, you need to become aware of your thinking. You will be surprised when you go into observation mode how easily you slip into a running monolgue inside your mind that progresses into the emotion of anger. This realisation in itself can often pull you out of an angry outburst, especially when you realise that it’s because your thinking is in conflict with reality and you make yourself accept the new reality of the present situation.
 

The Self-worth component to anger

The thinking behind anger is believing that something should be different to what it actually is. It is an attachment you have to a particular outcome that has not occurred in reality.

This attachment to your expected outcome comes from your beliefs about what this particular outcome means about you and your life.

In my example, my two hours of time out was important to me because I believed that my rest time (‘my time’) made me feel better, where as dealing with my children, at that point, did not.

I was not enjoying my children at that point because I was viewing them as hard work, demanding, an interruption to ‘my time’ and a lot of time spent doing something I wasn’t liking.

Yes, this is how I honestly viewed my children. I was not enjoying them at all and it’s little wonder when I was looking through this lens is it?

Once I recognised how often I was thinking these thoughts and how the conflict with reality from within my head was causing my anger, I knew that I had to change my thinking if I ever wanted to rid myself of the anger. The epiphany that came after I nearly hit my son with that knife was that “No one else could do this for me. No one else could change the way I feel about my life. Only I could.”

The same will apply to you. You could continue to engage in the conversations in your mind that cause your anger every time your child (or life) does not comply with what you want to happen, or you can use this TRACK process to look at the situation differently and stop the anger. As always, the choice is yours.
 

Step Two – Reality

Once you have acknowledged your thoughts, the next thing you need to do is STOP. Straight away. Stop what you are doing, close your eyes (if you can) and very quickly say to yourself “I am in conflict with reality. What is the reality right now?”

  • If your child woke up early, this is the reality. It’s different to your expectations, but it is reality. There is nothing you can do about it. They are awake. You must now deal with it.
  • If your child is tantruming, then that is what they have chosen to do for their reasons.
  • If your children are fighting, then that is what is presently happening.

Any conversations that engage in any thinking that will not accept this reality (It shouldn’t…, I wish…, why isn’t…, I don’t want…., why do I have to… etc) needs to be stopped immediately. Shut them off before they can cause anymore havoc.

Then you need to turn these thoughts around, using the reality thinking model:
 

The reality of the situation

It is what it is. How my life is playing out now, is how it is playing out right now due to everything that has unfolded in the past. The past cannot be changed. You must accept this present reality, because it is here right now and there’s nothing that you can do about the fact that it is here right now.
 

The reality of being a parent

Is your child doing something that is a developmental stage? Are they simply learning? This is just one of those moments. This is not all of who they are. If your child is tantruming, try picturing them laughing to remind you that what they are doing is only momentary.

Align yourself with the reality of what occurs when you are a parent. You are their mother and right now you are responsible for dealing with this situation, like it or not. If you don’t like it, then that’s okay, but you have to accept what is occurring right now. In later steps you can sort out how you are going to deal with it, but remember in this step you simply have to accept the reality.

If you are talking about something going on with your children that is causing you to think in a anger-inducing way, then you have to accept the reality that during your experience as a parent you will experience ups and downs that sometimes aren’t going to be enjoyable.
 

The reality of life

Now you move into expanding your mindset about your life. You have to quickly pull this current situation into perspective of the bigger picture. This particular experience does not define your existence.

If your child wakes up early and is cranky, if your children are fighting, if your child is having a tantrum, this is one small moment in time. Don’t let it consume you and don’t give it the energy to be any bigger than what it is – a moment in time. Everything rises and passes away. This will too.

Hang in there with this in mind because it will save you from frustration leading to an angry outrage.

You will notice that all of these explanations of each of the components of The reality thinking model are short. This is because in the heat of the moment, you won’t have time to go into these elaborate upgrades that you would in a journal with bigger issues or in hindsight.

Very quickly you will need to become aware of your thinking that is causing your mild frustration to reach blow up point, then stop it and realign your thinking with the reality of the situation, the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of self-worth.
 

The reality of self-worth

This final part of the reality thinking model is where you will probably have to do the most work. Why is this situation really bothering you right now? What have you really attached your self-worth too?

In the heat of the moment you may need to remind yourself of your 100% worth, by trying to identify how this situation is valuable and how it is contributing to your growth and your child’s growth.

If you are experiencing your child’s undesirable behaviour, then this is merely indicative of where they are at in their development. How do they know what to do unless they’ve experienced what not to do? Detach your self-worth from their behaviour. In fact deliberately detach your self-worth from whatever is happening, because all it is, is just an event.

What’s making you angry is because somehow you are attaching your self-worth to that event. At this point on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process when we are talking about anger, our objective is to stop your anger in its tracks before it can escalate into hurting your child (intentionally or unintentionally) and also because it’s not enjoyable for either of you to experience this emotion.

Right in that moment, perhaps all you need to do is to quickly realign with the reality thinking model and then later on when you have some time, reflect on this situation and investigate exactly why you felt angry, journal it, write yourself a page of upgraded thinking and contemplate your aims, solutions and create your action plan.

I particularly suggest to practice doing this if anger is becoming a repetitive response to things not going to plan.
 

Summary to the Thoughts and Reality steps

First, take notice of your feelings. As soon as you recognise that you are feeling frustrated, become aware of your thinking. What are you saying to yourself? How is your thinking in conflict with reality?

The next thing to do, is to stop this thinking dead in its tracks. Stop yourself from entering into anymore conversations that are in denial with reality and quickly turn it around. Implement the reality thinking model. It doesn’t have to be elaborate thinking. It just needs to quickly turn your thinking around from being in conflict with reality, to being aligned with reality by expanding your mind in the direction of accepting the situation, remembering what life is like as a parent, putting the situation in proper context of the bigger picture of your life and then reminding yourself that this event is bringing value at some level to your life because of what it is teaching you and how it is contributing value to your life, not devaluing it. Of course the trick is to figure out ‘how’ the situation is doing this and cling to that.

Stopping anger is about clinging to this new way of thinking as quickly as possible in order to stop that progression from annoyance to outburst.

Here’s an example of how quickly you can do this:

[You are cooking in the kitchen and your child is incessantly whingeing at you and clinging to your leg while you are trying to get dinner ready.] “Oh my god, I can’t stand this whingeing. I just wish you would leave me alone. Stop clinging to me. I can’t do anything with you hanging on me like this. Shut up. Stop whingeing. I can’t stand it anymore……….” STOP!!!!!! “Okay, just breathe for a minute. The reality is he is whingeing right now. (the reality of the situation) It’s 5pm and it’s witching hour. This is just a phase he’s going through that most kids go through. He wants my attention because he’s tired, it’s the end of the day and he wants me, but I have other things I need to do too. (the reality of being a parent> It’s only noise. This isn’t the be all and end all of my life. This is a moment in time that will pass. (the reality of life) I’m okay. I am not going to let this moment bother me. (the reality of self-worth) Now let’s see what we can do about the situation.(Step Three – aim).

You can see that very quickly, as soon as the thinking causing the frustration was identified, it could then be changed and deliberately sent into a different direction that became aligned with reality and put into perspective, then sent into focussing on the solution.
 

Awareness, detachment and acceptance in that order. Remember these three words to help your through the frustrating times

 

Step Three – Aim

In the heat of the moment when you are dealing with dinner, fighting siblings, a whingeing baby, bathtime, tantrums and all the other chaos that can occur at times, you will not have time to sit down and create an aim, test your aim and work out exactly what you want.

Once you have stopped the initial onset to anger by recognising the rogue anger-inducing thoughts and aligning them with reality, you can then move onto focussing on what is going to see you through this current moment.
 

Step Four – Choices

“Okay, separate the fighting siblings, or put them in their rooms, put the baby in her highchair next to me and give her a spatula to play with (while ignoring the whingeing), bathtime can wait, ignore the tantrum because I don’t have time for it and get dinner on the table.”

Do what needs to be done. Look for what options are around to get your though this immediate situation and then if it is common for this kind of chaos to occur, sit down once the kids are in bed and run the situation through the Mind TRACK to Happiness process properly when you have time to think without interruption.

Look at why this situation is recurring and what you are going to do about it. What is the ideal of the situation? Why is each person contributing to the chaos? What is the reason they are behaving this way and how can you help them to help you?

Seek out resources to help you to change your chaotic evening to being a calmer one.
 

Step Five – Know your plan & action it

When you are applying this process quickly, the fifth step is just about doing what you have decided is the best thing to do at the time in step four.

If you are looking at the situation in hindsight, then you need to develop an approach for dealing with this situation next time.

I can assure you that having a plan of attack for dealing with regular situations – for example, tantrums, witching hour, fighting children, dinner time and so on, will empower you so much that you won’t even come close to getting angry at that time of the day.

Having a plan gives you some action to take when this situation arises. Your reaction is to implement your strategy and thus is a solution focussed reaction, rather than an angry one.

The bottom line is that anger occurs because you want the situation to stop and become what you want it to be. If you have applied the five steps to those times that are becoming regular challenges, then you have a plan to stop the situation, so there is no need for anger.

But if your life continues to be in chaos with no plan and no organisation, then it is going to be difficult to keep your thoughts from entering into those conversations that end in anger.

Of course you can’t always plan for the unexpected, so the key is to remain aware of how you are feeling, because remember, feelings occur because of what you are thinking.

This motherhood gig is not easy, that’s for sure, but with the Mind TRACK to Happiness process you are always able to gauge where you are at on the ladder and why you are there. If you are angry, it is because you are at the bottom of the ladder sitting in denial and conflict about reality.

Change your thinking, set your aim, resource and create your plan for overcoming your challenge. These are the steps that will not only lead you away from stress, but will have you feeling happier, more organised and living a life that gives back exactly what sort of life you want to lead.

In tomorrow’s lesson we will talk about those times when you feel completely overwhelmed by everything how to apply the TRACK process to this time of your life too.

Week Eleven / Day Six – Overwhelmed by everything

 

Click here for the audio version of the lesson

Sometimes there will be days when you are feeling simply overwhelmed by everything and nothing seems to be making you feel better.

You may be feeling down about a relationship that seems to be failing, the kids are noisy, unco-operative and you don’t feel like dealing with them and your money problems seem to be reaching their peak.

Your life feels like it is on a downwards slope to never-ending misery and you are teary, discouraged and feeling like giving up again.

It’s important at this point of the program, after all of the work you have done thus far, to take notice of what you have achieved.

Changing your belief system so that it doesn’t lead you to depression, is easy in principle, but not so easy in practice. You are going to have days where life gets to you and it feels like you are back to square one again. There are going to be days where all that habitual thinking comes back into play and consumes you again.

It’s important to recognise this as being part of your pathway to change. It’s a habitual thoughts process in itself that we think, “If I go for what I want, but don’t get it straight away, then I won’t get it at all.”

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The way to the goal is filled with ups and downs, learning and growing. That’s what the goal is all about. You stuffing up, making mistakes, going back to your old way of thinking, this IS you getting to the goal.

This is you recognising this thinking, feeling again what these thoughts do to you on a physical and emotional level, then working your way once again towards living your depression-free life.

When you are having these days of overwhelm, let yourself have them. Sit with these feelings, take notice of the thinking that is causing you to feel this way and just observe the association between these thoughts and emotions.

Recognise, once again that it is your habitual thinking that is causing you to feel this way, not the events occuring in your life.

I know it is difficult not to associate events with the cause of your depression. It’s easy to think that if you could just get along with your partner, if the kids would just behave, if you just had more money, then life will get easier. The reality is that life probably would get easier. You probably would become happy…..but this is only until the next challenge comes along to trigger those same habitual beliefs that are presently causing you to feel depressed, stressed or anxious.

That doesn’t mean that you should just put up with the situation at hand and only work on your mindset. This is what steps three to five on the Mind TRACK to Happiness are all about. While working on your mindset, it is also vitally important that you are also working on achieving your aims and maintaining a solution focussed approach to your problems.

On days where life feels like it’s too much, this is the part where you just need to allow yourself to fall apart, feel sad and don’t give too much power to what is happening within you. It’s okay to be sad. Part of the reason you feel depressed is because you probably feel weak and useless because of the way you feel. Perhaps you believe that you should be able to ‘hold it all together’.

But we all have our low days, our days where we feel discouraged, and it’s important for you to allow yourself to feel blue sometimes. At the same time though, keep recognising the thinking pattern causing you to feel this way, because this will help you to disassociate your worth from the way you are feeling.

When you remind yourself that it is your memes, your habitual thinking that believes that life can go wrong, that you are missing out on what your life needs, that you should be doing this or someone else should be doing that and that your life is worth-less because of it, then you help yourself to detach from this thinking being real.

When you are ready, go ahead and apply the reality thinking model to your situations. Keep working towards changing that habitual thinking. Challenge what your mind thinks is reality with the new perspective on reality that has been taught in this program and keep on going.

As the famous kids’ movie Nemos states:

“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming….”

It will get easier, I promise. Remember that I, too have sat where you are. I too have felt like all is hopeless and that nothing will ever go ‘right’ in my life again. I still have days where I feel discouraged and down, even for no apparent reason. But I simply allow myself to feel this way for a little while, observe my thinking and let myself be.

You don’t need to control your thinking 24/7. It can be exhausting to continually monitor and deliberately change your thinking all of the time. Give yourself a break once in a while and don’t feel like you have to get the ‘reality thinking model right’ and feel like you have failed yourself if you cannot achieve this 24/7.

Everything you do is learning and growing. Everything that occurs in your life is valuable, even those times where you are feeling overwhelmed because this is reminding you of why you want to change. Allow yourself to feel what it really feels like to have depression, feel down, so that you can remember this feeling.

Why do you want to remember this feeling? Because this will drive you to continue working on changing your thinking to feel differently! Hence, the value in those down times.

Once you are ready to get back on the horse and keep applying the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to your life again. Let me show you how you can do this when you are feeling so overwhelmed by everything.
 

Step One – Thoughts

Hopefully when you have got to the point of deliberately deciding to apply the Mind TRACK to Happiness process, you have allowed yourself some time to feel, to observe your thinking and remind yourself of how your thinking is responsible for your feelings.

Your job on this step is done now, it’s time to move on to step two, because sometimes it can become habit to continually look around your life and find what it is you are not getting and how life is going wrong.

Now it’s time to change the direction of that thinking and expand your mindset in the direction of your new perspective and the new habitual thinking that you are trying to install in your brain.
 

Step Two – Reality

When feeling particularly overhwelmed by multiple things going on in your life, a general upgrade of your life overall would be useful before moving onto the solution focussed steps.

As soon as possible, write yourself a half to full page of upgrades on all of the situations causing you overhwelm. Find as many different ways as possible for looking at:

  • The reality of the situation – what actually is. I know you won’t probably like any of this reality of the situation part, but nonetheless, there has to be an acceptance of where you are at right now before you can move forward
  • The reality of being a parent – ups and downs, learning and development of your child, the change in life that you are adjusting to, the fact that you have changed as a person, letting go of the person you used to be and how life used to be lived and accepting your new reality. Keep in perspective the reality that your child’s current demanding and developmental age will not last forever and whatever you are dealing with right now will soon pass by.
  • The reality of life – Every single person on this planet has gone through challenges that they learn from. This time of your life is only small period of your whole life. Spend a lot of time on this upgrade and the next one, pushing yourself to expand your mindset to look at the bigger picture of your life in general. These hard times will end. They will move on. You will experience happier times as you continue to move towards your aims and actively seek the information that you need to progress through this challenge. Look back at past experiences, past challenges, what they have taught you and how valuable they became either because of the change of direction you ended up taking because of it, or because of the life lessons learnt. Let them serve as a reminder that what you are going through right now is another little lesson unfolding in front of your eyes.

    Now turn your attention to trying to find the hidden good in the bad. Trying finding specific things that are good about your life, what you could possibly be learning about your life right now. Perhaps what you are going through right now is what you need in order to focus more attention on you and your personal growth. Perhaps this current period of your life is teaching you to seek help on learning strength, independence, self-reliance, self-love, personal empowerment, how to teach your kids these same qualities, how to reignite your relationship, or let each other go so you can start new journeys with new adventures. If you cannot see any good in this current situation, at least just acknowledge that there will, at some point, be value in what you are presently experiencing, even if it is not yet obvious.

  • The reality of self-worth – We are all playing a part in the unfolding of life. You are playing a part in your child’s journey, your partner’s journey and everyone around you too. Whether you see it or not you play a vital role in the unfolding of life. Your life is not valuable because you achieve something, or because life happens to be going in the direction you would like it to. It is valuable because you are here right now living in it, learning what you are learning and contributing your uniqueness to those around you.

    I know that when you feel overhwelmed by a lot of things that seem to be going ‘wrong’ that you don’t particularly care about what influence you are having on another person, but if you can at least grasp the concept of what value life has on the bigger picture and that you, as a person are not defined by these current events, that your life’s value is not defined by these current events, then this will stop you going right down in the pits of depression.

    Things happen in life that don’t feel good sometimes, but things happen sometimes that do feel good. A successful life is not defined by the good times anymore than it is defined by the bad. These goods and bads are simply a reality of life, and all the while your worth still remains because you are you, contributing to the world and making a massive difference to the lives of many (particularly your children).

 
 
Keep going with these upgrades until you feel better, even if it’s just marginally better. It all makes a difference. Then continue on with the rest of the TRACK process. Staying solution focussed is vital. Just because your thinking is in alignment with reality, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want to change this reality. Keep swimming onto step three….
 

Step Three – Aim

When feeling overhwelmed by multiple areas of your life, it’s important to break it down.

Remember that you want to change the direction of your thoughts. You want to stop yourself from continually seeing what is wrong in your life and what you are missing out on. To do this you need to start looking at what you want. Rather than searching for what you don’t want and finding more evidence of it in your life, start searching for what you DO want. What is the ideal of the situation?

Take a look around you and list the problems that you are having right now. Get really specific about what potential outcome you are looking for.

Break it down into categories. For example:

Your Marital Relationship: What do you want for your relationship? Do you want to re-kindle the flame? Can you remember the last time your relationship felt good? Would you like it to go back to that? What did that look like? What was happening during that time that made you feel like the relationship was good? What were you doing that contributed to your relationship that was good? What was he doing that contributed to this relationship being good?

At some point one of you have to start changing the current dynamic that has become set up between you. Over time something changed. Over time, you both stopped doing what it was that made your relationship wonderful in the first place. One of you now has to start adding that back into your relationship and break the current cycle you are in.

It may not fix everything straight away, but it does start to get the ball rolling and possibly open up the communication channels.

Be specific about what you want from your relationship so that you can begin to search for how to get it at the next step? What will it look like when you are happy with your present relationship? What will be happening?

Yourself: What do you want for yourself? It’s difficult to be loving and understanding to someone else when you are not that way to yourself. When you are feeling like you are a failure or that your life has failed, you hardly have the energy to think about anyone else, especially when you have kids in the mix who also need your love and attention.

You can’t give what you do not hold yourself, so you need to work on yourself. Remember the rules of flying? Apply the air mask to yourself first before you can help others?

But before you help yourself you need to get specific about how you would like to be. What are your goals in the area of yourself? What sort of person do you aspire to be? What does a happy you look like?

Money: I know that money is a huge topic to talk about and one that often requires a lot of effort in order to re-train your brain out of ‘no-money thinking’. Most of us are raised expecting to be lacking in money, but we often don’t actually sit down and look at what we want and search for ways to get it.

Be specific about what you want in the area of money. What does having money mean to you? What do you think it would actually buy you. It may appear that money is the cause of your stress, but when you really look into what you think it will buy you, often it’s not really about the money. Sure it would elleviate some pressure, but if you think that it is going to solve your stress or depression, then you are very mistaken.

It may for a little while, but as I mentioned before, you will inevitably come across another situation where those same beliefs that caused your stress in the first place will be triggered, sending you straight back into the same place again.

Let’s put your attention on what you want in the area of money and test your potential aims with our two questions: Why do I want this aim? and Is this aim in conflict with reality?
 
Continue setting goals and putting your attention back on your previously set goals (from week seven) so that you can focus back on what you are aiming for instead of what you are not getting and how ‘bad’ life currently is.
 

Step Four – Choices

If you’ve not done so already, do something right now that actively gives you information that moves you closer to your goal.

If you are going through relationship issues, read one chapter, or one article that teaches you to do something positive towards the goals you have for your relationship. If feeling down on yourself is part of why you feel overwhelmed, then find some information that teaches you to look at yourself differently or talks about your true self-worth. If you are having money hassles then resource how to make more money or find an exercise that helps you to reassess your financial priorities.

Resource whatever material you need in order to feel like you’re arming yourself with information to move you out of this situation. When you feel like you are getting somewhere with your present challenge then the overwhelm will lift and you will start to feel inspired, encouraged and empowered.

Usually the overwhelm comes only because you are ignorant to what needs to be done to move you out of your present situation. For example, you don’t know how to build a happy relationship (perhaps you never had role models to teach you how), you don’t know how to love yourself, you don’t know how to live financially free. Often overwhelm is not because you can’t overcome something in your life, it’s just that you don’t know how to yet.

This step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process gets you to resource how to get the life that you want.
 

Step Five – Know your Plan & Action It

When feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, one of the best things to do is to DO SOMETHING. Anything that is aligned with your goals and gets you one step closer to achieving your goal.

Relationships: Do something nice for your partner, just because.
Yourself: Do something nice for yourself, just because.
Money: Read a rags to riches story for inspiration and start contemplating your own rags to riches story

Whatever it is, whether it be a big step towards your goal or just a little one, just do it! This step is all about action.
 

You can see, as I keep showing you how to use the Mind TRACK to Happiness process that each time we take a journey from feeling low, down, discouraged and we expand our mind to the bigger picture and the land of possibilities.

This process deliberately shifts the focus of your attention and changes its direction. Remember what you think about expands so whenever you feel like life is getting to you and you don’t know what to do, always refer back to this process.

Sometimes it will completely change your mood straight away, and other times it may just shift your mood only slightly, until you allow yourself the time to sit down and really investigate what your thoughts are, write pages of upgrades to your thinking and spend some solid time setting, researching and planning how to achieve your aims.

The important thing though, is to keep using this process wherever and whenever you can, as this is not only changing your current emotions, but it is retraining your brain to think like this habitually.

Life can be tough, and sometimes it feels like the whole world is against us. But I promise you this period of your life will pass by and lead to something else. How quickly it does that though, and how painful this current situation is, will be up to the mindset you approach it with.

Tomorrow is your last exercise for the postnatal depression recovery program. In this program I will give you an exercise to quickly expand your mind during those moments of overwhelm so they don’t end up in complete overwhelm and breakdown at the end of your day.

Week Eleven / Day Seven – Exercise Day! A Quick mind expansion exercise

 

NB – there is no audio available for this exercise

 
Congratulations! You have finished the second last week of the PNDR Program and are now onto the final exercise of the program.

This exercise will help you to pull together all of the learning and application of your learning into your day to day life so that you can keep going with growing those new neural connections in the brain that will fast become your new habitual thinking. Remember the more you do this exercise the faster this thinking will become habit.

I encourage you to get yourself a new notebook to practice this exercise over and over again, and keep pen and paper with you as often as possible.

The steps are simple, and if you do them consistently, they will quickly become habit for you and instead of writing it down, you will start to to do this in your head. But to begin with I suggest that you do each step in your notebook as it helps you to a) Remember the steps; and b) reinfoces the new thinking in your mind.

Step One

As often as possible, whenever you notice yourself feeling stressed, depressed, anxious, angry, guilty or any other negative emotion, put your attention onto your thinking and answer these two questions:

  1. What am I thinking?
  2. What does this situation mean about me and my life?

This is step one of the TRACK Process – Thoughts. What you are doing here is quickly getting to the nitty gritty of why you are feeling the way you are. The bottom line is that all of your emotions will come down to what you believe this situation means about you, so you need to get to that part of your thinking in order to upgrade it. We don’t want to spend much time on the cause of stress. We want to create new neural connections in the brain that align with the thinking from The Reality Thinking model, so just answering these two simple questions should identify very quickly where you are at.

 

Step Two

Write down one statement from each of the reality thinking model components – the reality of the situation, the reality of being a parent, the reality of life and the reality of your self-worth

This is step two on the TRACK Process – Reality. Because you don’t have a lot of time as you are going about your day to write long paragraphs of upgrades, I want you to get into the habit of just finding four upgrades to change your thinking whenever you feel low or emotional about something. Over time you will begin to think like this unsconsiously, but for now you need to keep doing this step deliberately in order to train your mind to think this way habitually. The more you teach yourself to look at life this way, the better you will feel about the challenges that arise.

 

Step Three

Next to the heading: My Aim – Write down what aim you have in regards to this situation. From week seven you have a list of aims for being a parent, your life and your self-worth and possibly already have a situation aim. Write down which of those aims are relevant to your current situation.

This is step three on the TRACK Process – Aim. In this step you want to remind yourself of what you are aiming for, both for the situation and on a larger scale. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate answer, just a quick few words about what your aims are in regards to this situation. What we are doing in this step is quickly expanding your mind to stop the feelings that are occurring. If you do not have a specific situation goal already stated for this particular situation, then your aim would be to do steps three to five on the TRACK process when you have more time to set and assess. Even having the intention to be solution focussed about this situation rather than getting sucked into being consumed by it, can make a huge difference to how you feel.

 

Step Four

Write down some options for dealing with this situation right now. Either remind yourself of the choices that you have already chosen from the work already done, or just brainstorm two or three things that you could do right now. Do a quick mental assessment of what your priorities are for choosing each option – the self-worth component

This is step four on the TRACK Process – Choices. You are now looking for the solutions to your challenge and how to get to your aim.
 

Step Five

Write down what your next step on your action plan is and do it. What do you need to do now? What is the step that is going to get you just that little bit closer to your aim?

This is the final step on the TRACK Process – Know your Plan & Action it. You need to do something every day to move towards you aims. Sometimes you need to do something every time the situation arises (for example, staying calm when your child is not co-operating). Writing down this step keeps you aligned and focussed on where you are going, not what has happened in the past.

 
 
Now it may seem like it will take a lot of time to keep writing down each of these steps, but let me assure you that this is a two minute exercise. Here’s an example of how quickly you can do this exercise:

Scenario: I feel guilty and regretful for having yelled at my child

Step One – What am I thinking?

  • What am I thinking?

    I shouldn’t have yelled at him like that. It was horrible to see the look on his face when I did that.

  • What does this situation mean about me and my life?

    I feel like a terrible mother. I should be encouraging him, not breaking his spirit by yelling at him like that.

  •  

    Step Two – The Reality Step

    • The reality of the situation: I did it. I yelled and I can’t change that now.
    • The reality of being a parent: Sometimes my child is going to do things that don’t match my expectations. They are learning what is and what isn’t appropriate behaviour.
    • The reality of life: This moment was just one moment in my son’s and my relationship. It does not define our relationship, nor will it define his existence.
    • The reality of self-worth: I am a person who is learning how to be more patient and am a continual works in progress. Both of us are learning and growing throughout all the experiences in our lives and this is one where both of us will be learning and contributing to each other’s development too.

     

    Step Three – What is your aim?

    • I am a calm and loving parent to my child

    • I am patient

    • I enjoy being a stay at home mum

     

    Step Four – What are your choices for right now?

    • To go and cuddle him, then sit down and play with him for a few minutes

    • Apologise and explain that my anger was not his fault (NB: It doesn’t matter what age your child is at, you can still do this)

     

    Step Five – Know your plan & action it

    Remember the steps that I set out for handling misbehaviour of my son – the time out method. Remember to calmly implement these steps when appropriate. This will keep me on track with a) dealing with my son’s behaviour and b) working towards my goal of staying calm.
     
     
    Now it’s your turn. This exercise is not just for today, nor is it just for next week. Use this exercise as often and as long as you can until you begin to think this way habitually and no longer need to write it down.

    Good luck, and remember, if you get stuck head on over to the Q&A Forum to ask your question on how you can change your thinking or become solution focussed.

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