Last week was all about understanding your postnatal depression. It is my hope that you have now become educated to understand three really important points about your postnatal depression:
In the interim of learning my process for retraining your mind, remind yourself of these three points as often as you can. Remembering these points will help to stop you from attaching this destructive thinking to who you are.
“Don’t believe everything you think”
You have learned that you feel the way you do because of your thinking and this thinking was set up in your past. How could you possibly feel differently when this was the information that was conditioned in your brain (physically) for you to access as you experience life?
But all that is in the past. That’s it. It’s over. Even the questions you answered yesterday is old news because this week is about leaving all that you have previously learnt about life behind and stopping your postnatal depression for good.
It’s time to start a new life. Leave behind the thinking of your past conditioning. Leave behind the painful experiences you have had in the past and the opinions and judgements you hold about those experiences. Any mistakes you made, experiences that didn’t go your way or the pain that someone caused you is now over, and starting today, you are going to learn a process that will teach you to change the way you view your life, and consequently how you feel about it.
Your past does not exist unless you create it in the now. Read that again.
Every picture you have, every memory you relive, every worry, fear, self-criticism, judgement or emotion that you feel comes right back to your thoughts and you only ever experience thoughts in the present moment. Everything you experience is effected by how you think and the way to change your life is to first change your thoughts.
You’re going to do this by bringing your attention into the now. I know, I know, it’s a big cliché in society to ‘live in the now’ and ‘be present’, but we all know that’s quite hard to do. However when you look at it, the now is all you ever have. When you are thinking about your past, where are you doing that? In the now. When you are worrying about your future, where are you doing that? In the now. We become identified with our thinking and consumed by it. This thinking dictates how we feel right now. So it makes complete sense that the only way to stop feeling the way we are, is to look at what we are thinking, right now! Because right now is all you ever have. It never leaves you.
What you are going to do through this program is begin using the Mind TRACK to Happiness process to stop your postnatal depression. This is why you no longer have to roll around in your muddy past of things that have happened. Because if the now is all you ever have then why would you waste it thinking about your past. It doesn’t exist!
You need to use this Mind TRACK process moment to moment, whenever you can so that bit by bit you start to become very skilled at consciously directing your mind away from the thoughts that cause depression and towards the thoughts that will make you happier.
The Mind TRACK to Happiness process can be used to help you in every area of your life. Whenever you find your thoughts heading in a destructive direction, you can start applying this process and begin teaching the brain to look at situations differently.
Using this process myself with my own PND gave me something to use right in that moment. Rather than having to remember a whole bunch of different self-help tools and having to decide which one to use for that particular moment, this process gave me something easy-to-remember and simple to apply.
It may feel like a mammoth task to retrain your mind to think differently, love yourself and love your life. However the Mind TRACK to Happiness process makes it a lot easier than it sounds.
You no longer need to feel overwhelmed because once you’ve thoroughly learnt this process all you need to do is be consistent about applying it. The more you apply it, the more you begin to train your brain to view challenging events differently. Little by little you will find yourself reacting less to situations. You don’t need to concentrate on the ‘I will be happy’ goal, as it progressively takes care of itself the more you apply this process to your life.
The beauty of this process and why it is so effective is because you can use the same process to many different aspects of your life, so you begin to habitually use the process whenever any challenge shows up in your life.
There’s just one more point I’d like to make before I begin explaining this Mind TRACK to Happiness Process. You need to DO the exercises. Just reading this information will definitely help you at some level, however it will be the experiential knowledge you get from applying the information that is going to make the changes to your habitual thinking.
Someone can tell you over and over not to put your hand in the fire, but when you physically put your hand in the fire yourself, the lesson is really driven home.
Over the next 6 days, I will give you an introduction into the Mind TRACK to Happiness process. If you are anything like me, you probably want the quick explanation on this process first so you can start to use it straight away and begin making changes to your life, so I will spend this week telling you what this Mind TRACK process is.
Be mindful that this next week is an overview of the TRACK process. I will be giving generalised examples of how each step works so you can immediately get to work on using the process without having to wait the whole 12 weeks before learning how to apply it.
However, over these twelve weeks I am going to break each step down further, giving you a more thorough explanation of each step, relating it to the situations that you face as a parent and helping you to explore it and apply it to your life. By the end of this program you will know exactly how to use this process to continue to make changes to your life.
So let’s start by introducing you to what the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process is. The word TRACK from the title of this process is an acronym for the 5 steps of the process. They stand for the following:
T – THOUGHTS
R – REALITY
A – AIM
C – CHOICES
K – KNOW YOUR PLAN & ACTION IT
You must start with your thoughts and work your way up to knowing your plan and taking action. Think of these steps as if they were a ladder you were climbing. Each step is like moving your way out of the black hole where stress, depression and anxiety lives to becoming more solution focused with a healthy and productive way of looking at the challenges you face.
Here is a summary of each step.
Thoughts – Becoming aware of your thoughts is the purpose of this step. We often don’t listen to the internal conversations going on in our minds so in this step you are going to start becoming aware of just what you are saying to yourself and noticing just how much this self-talk is causing you the actual stress you are experiencing. In this step, not only are you going to start noticing the talk going on in your head, but also what you are saying to others. You will become very aware of where you are putting your attention and will observe firsthand how your attention expands in the direction you have it in. For example, if you habitually look at what is wrong with a situation, you will see more evidence of what is wrong with that situation. In this step awareness about where your mind is at, is the key part to being able to change.
Reality – All stress is a conflict between thoughts and reality. Incorrect thinking and misconceptions about life cause you stress and in this step you are going to learn how to correct your thinking and align it with the reality of life and your true self-worth. This step helps you to disassociate with the memes that have influenced your thinking and helps you replace it with simple, undeniable truths about life.
A thorough understanding will be given to help you learn how to look at specific situations in a different way and be able to accept and learn from the challenges of life. Life is full of ups and downs and that’s never going to change. This step is about embracing challenges and learning how to think about them so you don’t become consumed by them and end up feeling like a failure. These first two steps are the absolute foundation of this entire process. I will spend a lot of time going through these steps so you become highly competent at identifying the cause of your stress and emotions, and know how to replace them. Again, doing this in the current moment they occur.
Aim – Once you have become aligned with reality and been able to change your thoughts, you are now in the position of exploring what you want. We often spend a lot of time thinking about what we don’t want, however we rarely think about what we do want. Also, just because you accept a situation and have a healthy sense of what it means about you and your life (which is what you will obtain after completing steps one and two), it doesn’t mean you won’t still want to improve or change the situation. This step helps you start moving your attention towards solutions to your problems.
Choices – Once you have established your aim, you will now have to start looking for how you are going to achieve it. This step helps you to resource information that will teach you how to achieve your aim and also helps you to choose the best course of action to take when dealing with your challenge. Often the problem comes from lack of information. We may have never encountered problems like these before (like breastfeeding, behavioural problems with our children etc) so the only way we can deal with them is to educate ourselves with information. Rather than getting stuck in the mindset of ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I am hopeless at this’, we start to turn our attention to ‘how can I do this’ and ‘what can I learn to get through this challenge’. It is a much more pro-active, productive and also empowering approach to handling challenges. In this step I will teach you how to find answers.
Know your plan & action it – The final step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process, now that you are armed with information on how to deal with your problem, is to create your plan of attack. This step helps you create a step by step approach that will help you to see exactly where you are at on your path towards your aim and what you need to do on each step on this path. Having a plan sets up a course for you to follow that often decreases your emotional reactions to challenges. Having a plan can be especially helpful when dealing with the developmental stages of your children.
This step helps you to see that getting to your goal requires laying one brick at a time. With every brick laid, you become closer to finishing your building (that is freeing yourself from parental stress and postnatal depression).
That is why this Mind TRACK to Happiness process is powerful for the overall goal of being happy. Each application of this process into your life works towards you feeling permanently stronger, happier and empowered rather than defeated, helpless and miserable.
It’s easy to see how with each step you are moving your way towards a more solution focused approach to challenging times, and literally forcing your mind to find answers, rather than getting stuck and consumed by what you think about the problem.
Tomorrow I will teach you the introduction of how to apply the first step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process further – THOUGHTS.
Have you ever decided to buy a car, and once you had decided on what type of car you are going to buy, you see it everywhere? It’s like all of a sudden everyone who owns that type of car is out on the road at the exact same time that you are.
The reason why this happens is not because all of a sudden there are loads more of your type of vehicle on the road, but because this is where your attention is. What you think about expands in that direction until you see it everywhere. If you habitually have your attention on how bad your life is, your brain starts searching for evidence of this belief being true. You start seeing everything that is bad in your life and your mind will keep going down that path until you change it, or get distracted with other events.
Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how often our mind wanders into that destructive direction. Sometimes this way of thinking just becomes the norm. All you are aware of is how bad you feel.
This first step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is all about becoming aware of your thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of where you have your attention, so you can learn how to shift your attention and consequently, change how you feel. Now I know that some of you are thinking, “I am already well aware of what I am thinking. It rings loud and clear in my mind and I hate thinking this way.”
Well it’s not just the thoughts you need to be aware of, it is more the pattern of thinking, the undertone of what you are thinking. This awareness is going to help you change.
You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge and you are going start acknowledging what these patterns are by becoming the observer to your thinking. You are going to start analysing what you say, when you say it and how you say it. You are going to observe how quickly little challenges spiral into you being a complete failure…again. You are going to become aware of the habitual thinking that occurs whenever life doesn’t go the way you expected it to or think it should.
Becoming aware of your thinking will help you to know what you need to replace these thoughts with in step two – the reality step.
How does my thinking cause me stress, depression or anxiety?
All stress is a conflict between thoughts and reality. When I say reality, I mean two things. There is
a) being in conflict with the reality of what is actually happening; and
b) interpreting what this situation means about me – a belief about your self-worth that is in conflict with the reality of your true self-worth.
Let’s look at three simple examples to illustrate the ways you can be in conflict with reality.
Example A – Your child is having a tantrum. Here’s the conversation you might be having in your mind:
“Why is she having this tantrum? Why can’t she just behave? She knows the rules. Why does she have to do this all of the time? I hate it when she behaves like this. She’s always giving me a hard time and I’ve had enough. All I ever do all day is listen to this noise. Nothing ever makes her happy. She thinks I’m her slave. In fact I feel like everyone’s slave. I never get any time for me anymore. I hate this life.”
Example B – Your baby is crying. Here’s what you might be saying to yourself:
“Stop crying! I hate it when you cry. Why can’t I get you to stop crying? I don’t know what to do when you are crying. What do you want? Why don’t I know how to help you? I’m so weak. I’m such a bad mother. I can’t even get my baby to love me. I can’t even make my baby happy. All he ever does is cry all day and I just want to enjoy him like I thought I would. I hate being a mum.”
Example C – Your house is not clean or tidy. Here’s what you might be saying about it:
“The house is always messy. Look at all this mess. How the hell am I expected to ever get on top of all this housework? I don’t have enough time because I’m always tending to everyone else’s needs instead. What about my needs? What if I don’t want to be slaving away spending every spare minute I have cleaning up? I feel like there is an endless pit of work for me and I never get any time to myself. I feel like I have no purpose other than doing everything for everyone else except me. I hate my life.”
In all three of these examples you have a simple situation common to parents that has very quickly spiraled into meaning that your whole life is worth-less or meaning something about you (your self-worth) or your quality of life. This is all because of how your mind has been taught to think. This is the pattern of thinking that you are going to start becoming aware of so that you can change it.
You will also notice that these conversations all began by thinking that does not accept the reality of what is actually happening – (being in conflict with the reality of the event – the tantrum, the crying baby, the messy house) and then expanded in that direction until it ended with the conclusion that these events meant something about you and your life.
If you have been taught, as a child, to look at the glass half empty and to feel like you are missing out all of the time, then this is where your attention habitually goes.
This is the physical neural pathway that has been formed in your brain. So all you will see is evidence of things going wrong and you missing out.
If you have learnt beliefs that you are hopeless, incompetent, useless, not good enough, not capable etc then this is where your mind’s attention will be. You will continue to see evidence of all these self-worth beliefs in your life.
In order to stop this pattern of thinking you need to first start becoming aware of this pattern. You will do this, not by rehashing your past, but by becoming aware of what your thinking is in the present. Become curious about your thoughts instead of becoming consumed by them. Observe these thoughts with interest, saying to yourself ‘wow, isn’t that interesting that I think this way’ or ‘wow, look at that meme that has popped into my head’.
I remember when I first started to observe my own thoughts. I was horrified with how I spoke to myself. It was little wonder why I was so miserable. I wouldn’t speak to anyone the way that I used to speak to myself. I was my own worst enemy. I remember a conversation I had with my mum, where I was complaining about something my kids were doing. All she said to me was, “Oh, yeah. I’ve been there.” Do you know what I was saying to myself?
“See, you’re whingeing again. She thinks you’re a whinger. You are always whingeing about everything. No one likes a whinger you know.”
I was really surprised by this nasty commentating going on in my mind. I told my mum the thoughts that I had just become aware of and she said to me, “I was only agreeing with what you were saying and could remember that happening when you kids were little.” But that was the pattern of my thinking – always relating events back to how worth-less I was. My attention was always on how I wasn’t doing something good enough, how I was being annoying to someone or inconveniencing someone, how I wasn’t learning something fast enough, how incompetent I was as a mum. And as it always goes, having my attention on how ‘bad’ I was resulted in finding more and more evidence that confirmed this belief.
I had always thought that I was a relatively confident person, but once I started to observe my thinking, it became clear that it was all a facade. Underneath, I had a very poor relationship with myself and this rose to the surface when I became a mother. I think you will be amazed as you start to see how often you think this way and how it is making you feel.
Here are some other statements that are common among parents that could be causing stress:
“This wasn’t the way parenthood was supposed to be”.
You had a picture in your mind of how life as a parent was going to look and now you may be experiencing it differently to that picture. You start to see how ‘wrong’ it is now that you are experiencing parenthood in this way (conflict with the reality of how it actually is) and then you start to search for what it means now that it’s going ‘wrong’. You see how much you or your child is missing out on. You start to reason how you should be doing this and you should be doing that or perhaps others should be doing something different. As your mind expands in the direction of thinking this way you always end up at the core of all stress – self-worth. What does it mean about me now that I am experiencing parenthood in this ‘wrong’ way? I am a bad mum/dad. I am hopeless. I am weak. I am a failure. I am not good enough.
“Labour did not go the way it was supposed to”
Sometimes we can have an image in our minds of a beautiful, drug free, relatively quick labour followed by a precious momentous meeting between you and your child forming an instant bond – just like the movies show us. However sometimes this does not occur and you may enter into thinking that is in conflict with this new reality. You start by thinking about how it should have been. “I should have had a natural birth”. Then you start to think about how you have missed out on that special experience that you were supposed to have. You think about your ‘poor’ child who missed out on meeting their mother in that special way and getting straight on the breast like they were supposed to. Then you start to reason that you should have been calmer, or looked after yourself better during pregnancy, been stronger, been able to handle the pain better so you didn’t need drugs. Perhaps you think that the nurses or doctor should have been more competent, and finally, you believe that all this means your child’s quality of life from the onset has diminished, or that you have failed at doing what ‘should’ have been an easy, natural experience (because everyone else can do it right), and that you are ultimately weak, hopeless, use-less, a bad mother, not good enough, stupid, selfish or incompetent. You will have your own unique list of names that you label yourself with that, soon, you are going to become aware of.
“I’m stuck at home with the kids day in, day out”
Maybe your partner was supposed to be working less hours and be home more and that’s not happening. Perhaps there has been a marriage break down and your support is not the way it was supposed to be. Perhaps your situation is the way it was supposed to be but you had no idea that it would be this hard. You start to think about how ‘bad’ it is. You very quickly move into how much personal time you are missing out on. You think about how your life used to be and how much fun you used to have and how life is no longer this way anymore (conflict with reality). You think about how you are missing out on having fun with your kids. How your kids are missing out on having a loving parent who enjoys being with them. You think about how angry you are these days and resent your new life as a parent, then feel guilty that you don’t actually enjoying being a parent sometimes. You think about how you should be enjoying parenthood and how you should be able to control your anger. Then of course this thinking expands and progresses into you feeling like you are a bad parent because you feel this way. All of your worth-less labels spring into your mind leaving you feeling like a complete failure.
“I have thoughts about hurting myself or my children, or daydream about me dying or my kids dying when I don’t really want me or them to be hurt”
Let me tell you first, that this is only your brain trying to correct the situation. Your thinking has followed the same pattern the rest of these situations have followed. By the time you have gotten to this point, I’m guessing you have experienced this pattern of thinking over and over again until you are in constant emotional pain. Your brain is looking for a way to protect your self-worth. It is a basic human instinct to protect ourselves from pain. By thinking these thoughts, even though you do not want them to come true, your brain is trying to bring you relief from the pain of feeling worth-less.
This is why self-worth issues always lie at the core of all stress. We are constantly on the pursuit for pleasure and avoiding pain. Our behaviour is always driven by our need to feel worthy. Thus behind every behaviour there is a priority to protect our self-worth.
This will be discussed in more detail as we progress, however for now, understand that if you are in constant pain and continually seeing more and more evidence of you being a failure (worth-less) then your mind is simply trying to find a way to protect you from this pain. Your brain searches for how to do this and comes up with ideas on how to do this (which is the images that you are visualising). Removing yourself from the situation that is causing you pain seems like the logical answer. Taking you out of the equation or even your kids out of the equation seems to be the answer to stopping the pain and the emotions. Even though you don’t want either of those things, these thoughts that you are having are simply your mind’s way of trying to change the situation and stop your pain.
Thinking these things does not mean that you are a bad person. It just means that you have some self-worth beliefs to correct. You need to change the way you see your life and understand why you are always worthy. Again, all of your thoughts relate back to those incorrect memes about self-worth set up long before your PND and becoming a mother. These memes are what need to change, not taking you or your child out of the situation. This is what this program is all about.
“I’m constantly second guessing myself”
This line of thinking starts with the incorrect beliefs (memes) that there is a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something. Do it the right way and I will be a good person/parent or I will gain approval or love. Do it the wrong way and I have failed.
As discussed last week, thinking like this can come from a childhood where there was pressure to do the right thing otherwise you would get in trouble a lot, criticised, ridiculed, punished or possibly even abused.
Now in adulthood you are protecting your self-worth using the same childhood mindset by trying to control all situations so that you get it all right and don’t suffer the consequences of getting it wrong – which could still be the fear of getting in trouble, being disapproved of, being criticised, ridiculed, not loved, punished or abused. Even if none of these things are likely to happen anymore, it is because your brain had these memes physically set up as neural connections as a child, you could still be operating through this incorrect thinking.
You can see again, that what starts as a simple comment about second guessing yourself, when looked at further, really goes down to protecting your self-worth, trying to feel worthy and avoiding feeling worth-less. This example runs more in alignment with anxiety than it does with depression. Anxiety, as previously discussed is all about control and prevent. I am going to control my life so that I get it all right and prevent anything from happening that will make me do it wrong. So I set up all of these little goals so that I get it right. I second guess myself because I have to get it right. If I make the wrong decision or do it wrong, then this means something about me. This means I will be a failure, stupid, not accepted, a bad parent, not loved, not good enough, not smart enough, in danger (another way of being worth-less)– again, all of those self-worth labels that you have been taught to define yourself by come out to play.
There are loads of examples that I could use here to illustrate how your thinking is in conflict with reality and how it progresses and expands in that direction until the event becomes all about your self-worth. Now it is time for you to start becoming aware of the pattern of your own personal thinking and what you are saying to yourself.
When thoughts come up, simply become aware of them. Become aware of what you are thinking, what you are saying in conversations with other people and what your mind’s commentary is about those conversations and the events going on in your life. Become curious about what you are saying to yourself rather than identifying yourself with it. Detach from these thoughts by reminding yourself that this pattern of thinking is simply the memes that have been set up from childhood by the minds of others who didn’t know any different. These are your habitual tapes that you have running in your mind and they do not define who you are. Imagine this thinking as the physical neural pathways in your brain (like you saw in the videos last week) and remember that it makes sense that you would think like this and that you are working to grow new connections and change this current superhighway of thinking.
Take notice of the patterns that emerge. Is your thinking always about how wrong everything is or how life isn’t the way it’s supposed to be – that is, in conflict with the reality of the situation? Is your thinking more often about how much you are missing out on things or your child is missing out on something? Are you more often riddled with guilt, anger, blame, or judgements about life because it should be another way, you should have done things differently or someone else should or could be doing something different? And finally, what does all this mean about your life? How does this effect you? What does it mean about you (your self-worth)?
Remember that a lack of self-worth (worth-lessness) is at the core of all stress, depression and anxiety. What are you saying about yourself in these situations? Take notice of how often you relate challenges to meaning something derogatory about you or how often you relate this challenge to meaning something dramatic about your quality of life.
Keep in mind that you are not going to be able to capture all of your thoughts. The mind has approximately 70,000 thoughts per day, so you’re not going to be aware of all of them. At this stage, you may still find that some of your thinking still consumes you. Hang in there. The more you apply this step the more you will learn to detach from these thoughts merely by being aware of them and disassociating your self-worth from them, and as you progress through this program, you will begin to change these thoughts too and feel better about life.
In tomorrow’s lesson, we will start to look at step two – reality. I will give you an overview of how to change your thinking to be in alignment with the reality of the situation and the reality of your true self-worth.
Step Two of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process is where change occurs. It is when you take the thoughts you have become aware of in step one and change them to be in alignment with reality.
You have learnt that wherever you put your attention, it expands in that direction and gathers momentum. In this step I am going to teach you how to deliberately send your attention in the direction that will make you feel different to how you have been.
As you saw in the few examples I gave you in yesterday’s lesson, your thinking begins first by interpreting the situation – what is happening. You interpret that it is going wrong because it hasn’t matched your expectations (beliefs). You think about how it differs from how it’s supposed to be. This thinking is in direct conflict with the reality of what is actually happening (for example my child is not behaving the way I expected her to. My baby didn’t sleep for as long as I expected him to. I didn’t get as much work done as I would’ve liked etc).
Your attention progresses in this direction as you interpret the situation some more. You start to associate this situation with your new life as a parent (after all you never came across situations like this before you became a parent). You start to miss all the fun times you had, all the free time you had to pursue your interests. You start to think about how hard being a parent is and how there now seems to be so much work to do. You may start to think that you should be like other parents who seem to manage it all so well. Here is where the emotions come in to play, as you start to feel anger, followed by guilt for feeling this way.
Then your attention starts to expand in the direction of what this situation means about your whole life. What does this mean about my life if I’m feeling like this all the time? You start to think that you are missing out on your time, your freedom, being the happy person you used to be, having a life that you enjoy. All you see in this phase is more and more evidence of events causing you to feel this way. You are totally oblivious to the fact that it was your thoughts that got you here, not the events. All you see is that your life is not going the way you had planned. Very quickly a simple challenging event can expand into your whole life being hopeless.
Now your attention turns towards questioning your worth. What am I worth if my life is like this? What does it say about me that I have become this person? What does it say about me if I can’t get the house in order, if I can’t get my child to behave, if I can’t get my baby into a sleep routine, if I can’t breastfeed, if I can’t get my partner to support me, if I can’t be a good mum/dad or if I can’t get my life to go the way it’s supposed to? I must be a failure, stupid, weak, incompetent, undeserving, not good enough, selfish etc. You will have your own pre-conditioned judgments (memes) about yourself for behaving the way that you are, feeling the way that you do and experiencing life the way you are right now.
If you follow this pathway of thinking often and with many of the challenges you encounter as a parent (and there are many) it is no surprise that you are feeling so stressed, depressed or anxious.
Of course this pathway of destructive thinking differs in severity for each person and in this example it’s possible I have painted a more extreme scenario than you can relate to. However regardless of how high or low your level of stress is, you will see that there is a very specific course of thinking that leads to how you feel and we can use this same path to change your thinking using an alignment with reality instead of being in conflict with reality (see the diagram below).
You can see that in the middle you are only look at the small picture – the thinking about the event that is causing you the stress. As you put your attention on the reality of the situation, then put your attention on the reality of being a parent, the reality of life in general and finally the reality of your self-worth, you will have expanded your thinking so that you are looking at the bigger picture of what this event really means and you will find yourself feeling very differently about it.
First of all you have The reality of the situation: When you are stressed, you are thinking about how the situation is different from what is going on. You have all sorts of opinions about this new situation and how ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ it is. These thoughts are in conflict with what is actually happening, so the first thing that you need to do is accept the situation.
If your child is crying, then that is what is happening right now. Any conversations that involve not accepting this reality is going to lead to stress. If your child is having a tantrum, then that is what is happening. If the house is messy, then it is messy. If you are having marital problems then this is where your marriage is at based on everything that has happened before.
Begin to accept that whatever you are experiencing, this is your reality. It doesn’t matter how you got here, because that is all in the past. The past only exists when you create it in the present with your mind. You only ever have the now so don’t let your mind enter into conversations about how you got there and how if you could’ve changed this or that you wouldn’t be here. Because that is in conflict with reality and will only cause you stress. The reality is you are here. You arrived here because of beliefs you had, because of actions you took and because of how life has unfolded right up to this current moment in time. You don’t have to like your reality, but you must accept it for you to move on.
Look around at what is going on. Look at your child screaming and rolling around on the floor. Look at your baby crying. Go around and look in every room and see the piles of washing without resistance. This is the reality of the moment right now. Don’t allow yourself to judge it, just look at it and accept this reality. You have to accept before you can change.
Now you expand your mind in that direction further by thinking about :
Throw out all of your preconceived notions of doing things the way that you used to and start to accept the reality that life has changed. Becoming a parent changes you mentally, physically, emotionally, morally and ethically. You will never be the same person you were pre-children, however you can be just as happy. This happiness will start by accepting the reality of being a parent.
There will be some wonderful moments with your children, but there will also be some challenging ones. You need to accept that you cannot control how your children behave. You need to accept that they are going through developmental stages and that they will present you with some challenges.
You need to accept that sometimes you are going to be able to get the house clean, but other times it will be dirty, or become dirty moments after you’ve just cleaned it!
You need to accept that you are learning a new skill. You don’t just have a baby and know everything that you need to know about your child. You are getting to know your child. You are learning how to be a parent. You are learning how to communicate with your child, understand them, guide them and love them.
You are learning how to integrate your working life with your new family life. You are learning to juggle old situations with new situations.
You are a human being who has just undergone a major change in your life and you are learning to adjust to this change. Give yourself some time to do this without judging yourself and expecting to get it right every single time. Give yourself the space to learn the skills you need to breastfeed, get your child into a routine, become organised and even the space to like this new role, because the changes can be so major that there may be periods of time where you don’t like aspects of being a parent.
Once you start to look at the reality of being a parent, then send your thoughts towards the next phase of this reality wheel:
Now you start to expand from the small picture (this current situation) to the bigger picture of your whole life. You need to start seeing the reality of what every individual goes through in their journey through life. This will take you out of being consumed by this moment and help you to widen back from it instead.
Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes we get what we want, other times we don’t. Sometimes we enjoy life. Sometimes we don’t. This is true when we work, have relationships, be a parent and any other experience we have. There are highs and there are lows. It doesn’t mean life has gone wrong. It is simply the reality of life.
During these highs and lows we are continually learning. We learn about how to do things better, we learn what not to do and we become ‘older and wiser’. Our adversities often teach us our most valuable lessons and when we can start to teach our mind to look for the hidden good in the bad by identifying how this situation is helping us to grow and learn, then we will cease rating events as good or bad.
And finally, change the way you view yourself by understanding:
As we expand our viewpoint from the reality of the situation, to the reality of being a parent, to the reality of life, we now come to the most crucial phase of changing how you feel – Understanding the reality of true self-worth. This is something that will take some time. You have had many years of believing that you are worth-less, or believing that your worth is attached to achieving certain things in your life. You have physical connections in the brain that are likely to be very strong and will come up to resist what I am about to say.
However, I will be spending two weeks on exploring this self-worth topic, so by continuing this program you will begin to see more and more evidence of why you are 100% worthy all of the time which will help you to grow this new belief about yourself.
But for now I want you to know why you are 100% worthy, so you can begin contemplating this new idea.
Your worth comes from your existence. A cliché, I know, but let me explain. By being here on this earth, alive in this moment in time, your presence, your behaviours, thoughts, actions and interactions with others all contribute to how the world is.
We all learn and grow from each other and we learn and grow through our experiences (the highs and the lows). Just by being here you are always contributing something of value to someone else. You may say something that contributes information that someone needs to make a decision. You use utilities, pay bills and are a consumer which contributes to the successful businesses of others. Just by being you, you contribute to the journey of your children, your partner, your friends, family and even complete strangers.
Whatever you are doing, regardless of whether you rate it as good or bad, you are contributing something of value to the world.
Being angry can show other people how to deal with angry people. People observing others being angry often see themselves in that person and learn how not to be. Experiencing an angry person can cause you to walk in another direction, causing you to have another experience that you would not have had if you didn’t come across that person. This doesn’t condone being angry, it simply shows you how that it can be looked upon in a different way. No one wants to be angry, however we can learn from these things so as not to repeat our behaviours in the future.
Making mistakes in your life can help others to not make the same mistakes. You talk to others about what you have done and what has been happening in your life and they take that information and store it in their brains. You could have taught them some valuable lessons that they will follow in their lives or contributed information that they may need to use and access later in life.
Everything you do can be looked upon as being valuable to society. Similarly other people are always valuable to you because of what they teach you.
We are all learning and contributing to others around us and it is this learning and, consequently contributing that learning to the people you encounter, that defines your worth. You are here, alive, doing what you do and being who you are and that is why you are always 100% worthy.
Take you out of the equation and the world becomes a slightly different place. You contribute links in other people’s journeys and to the way their lives unfold. Without you their experience of life is different. Not good or bad, just different. Without you they may not get the lessons about life that they would have got from their experience of you – whether you are their friend, foe or a complete stranger.
How does this reality of true self-worth concept work when dealing with a crying baby? Well as we explore this self-worth further in week five, I will help you to apply this concept to specific circumstances related to parenting.
The topic of self-worth is a massive one so I do not expect you to grasp this concept straight away and feel great about yourself immediately.
Once you have become aware of your thinking, as often as you can start following each phase of the reality step to expand your attention in another direction.
Look at the reality of the situation and accept it. It is what it is and that cannot be changed right now in this moment. You can only change the way you look at it and then what you are going to do about it (which comes with later steps of the process.)
Start looking at the reality of being a parent and the ups and downs it incurs. Look at your child’s behaviour as developmental, not an indication of your worth. Stop comparing your current life with the life you used to have and start embracing this new stage of your life.
Understand that every aspect of life you encounter comes with its ups and downs. Parenting is no different. With this understanding keep a look out for the good times you have with your kids as well – the laughs, the smiles from your children, the cuddles and kisses. Putting your attention on what you are getting instead of what you aren’t will send your attention in the direction of finding more of what’s enjoyable about your life.
Try to find the hidden good in the bad – the benefits of your situation that initially seemed like a hindrance. How is this situation contributing to your learning? How does it improve your knowledge about parenting or about life in general?
And finally, know that you are 100% worthy by trying to practice seeing how you are contributing to the people around you. Being able to identify how you are contributing will be the key to starting to feel worthy and good about yourself on a regular basis.
To help you begin, finish these sentences to start thinking about how you have benefited your friends and family.
Without me, my kids wouldn’t have…….
Without me, my kids wouldn’t learn how to……
Without me, my partner wouldn’t have…..
Without me being alive, I would not have experienced……. which taught (name of someone) (something you have taught them)
Without me, my friends wouldn’t have ……
Also think about – things you have organised that wouldn’t have happened without you, things that you have done or things that you have bought that have contributed to society, businesses, culture, schools. Everything you do makes a difference. Think about good advice you have given someone because of some knowledge you have gained through your life. Think about what you do around the house that contributes to the functioning of the household and helps everybody healthy and keep their bodies working.
Once you begin seeing it your attention will go in that direction and you will continue to find more and more ways that you are contributing to the world, JUST BY BEING YOU!!! Observe how differently you feel just by doing this exercise.
Remember, this week is just an introduction to the Mind TRACK to Happiness process. We are going to expand further on the how to apply this method to specific circumstances of being a parent.
Tomorrow we are going to move into step three of this process – Aim. Just because you are in alignment with the reality of your situation and the big picture reality of what this situation means about your life, it doesn’t mean that you won’t want to change or improve the circumstances of your life. The next step starts to move into a solution focusd approach to handling your challenges.
Step one – Thoughts and step two – Reality; are the two fundamental steps to making some long-term changes to your life.
Being able to identify that it is your thinking that causes you stress and then being able to replace this thinking will be what makes a difference to how you feel. Sometimes these two steps are the only ones that you need to make. Sometimes all you will need is a little reminder that you are out of touch with the reality of the situation, reality of being a parenting, reality of life and the reality of your self-worth and a quick adjustment of your mindset can help you get back to feeling good about yourself, or at least not totally consumed by the situation.
Because these two steps are significant to change, the rest of the process will continually be reverting back to these new thinking practices in order to keep moving up the ladder of the TRACK process.
So now that you have completed steps one and two, you are now aligned with the reality of what this situation really means about you and your life. You are probably feeling a little bit better about the situation and not so consumed by it. However, this does not mean that you have to just put up with a situation if it’s not working for you or if it’s a particularly challenging scenario (for example, with your child’s behaviour, or a problem with your relationship).
Step three of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process starts directing your attention away from the perceived problem and towards its potential solution by establishing and setting an AIM.
This step is really important particularly for someone suffering from postnatal depression. When someone suffers from PND, as explained, they stop setting goals in one or more areas of their life. This is because you have attached your self-worth to getting life to go a certain way or to obtaining those goals, and because you feel like a failure when you can’t meet these expectations, you protect yourself from the pain of feeling like a failure and stop setting goals.
By the time you have gotten to this step you will be looking at the situation from a different perspective and you will know that your worth cannot be altered – that you are 100% worthy every moment of your life. Knowing this you can begin to set goals again. But this time you will know that whether you achieve the goal or not, your worth always remains intact.
It’s really important for someone with PND to learn how to start setting goals again, this time with an accurate understanding of the true purpose of goals and what they mean about your self-worth. As we explore this step further in week seven, you will come to understand much more about setting your aim.
But for now, we don’t just want to set any aim, we need to look closely at what aim you are setting and address a few key points to be sure that your aim isn’t going to cause you more stress.
These points are:
Let’s look at each one individually:
What do you want? What is the ideal of the situation? What am I going to do about this situation?
Just think about how much time you spend thinking about what it is you aren’t getting and putting your attention on the problems you are having. If you put more attention on what you wanted instead, you would find a lot more answers to your problems. After becoming aligned with the reality of the situation you can now say, “Okay, this is what is happening, so what do I want to do about it? What is the aim that I would like to experience? What is the ideal of this scenario?”
Whether you are dealing with an unsleeping child, a behavioural problem, a financial problem, a health problem or a relationship problem, simply by putting your attention on the potential solution, you will begin tossing up ideas that could end up being your aim.
If there are so many areas of your life that you need to work on, then just pick one small area for now to work on. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with trying to change too much all at once. Remember that you are learning this method for the first time, so you need to allow yourself some time to practice it and become skilled at it – just like becoming a parent.
Choose that one area of your life and really work at changing it so that you experientially get to see that this process works and then you will be encouraged to use it in other areas of your life.
List some possible aims that could work as solutions to your problems. Perhaps there is just one obvious solution (for example, get my baby into a sleep routine).
Why do I want this aim?
Now we start to look a little deeper at this aim of yours. We take a look at what’s underneath what you want and check that your agenda for achieving your aim is not about trying to increase your self-worth (by trying to gain approval, avoid judgments etc). You will be able to assess what your priority is for choosing this aim and what your ‘story’ is about what it will mean about your life when you achieve this aim.
Is my aim in conflict with reality?
Sometimes when we set goals we are not really considering whether they are do-able or not. It is more of a ‘this is what I want’ goal as opposed to ‘this is what I can logically do’ or ‘this is something that I have control over’.
For example, let’s say you would like to get your child into a sleep routine. This aim is okay, however whether your child sleeps or not, is not in your control. It is difficult to set and achieve goals that rely on the behaviour of someone else. A much better goal would be to find a sleep technique that works for your child. That way if you try something and it doesn’t work, you are not feeling disheartened. It just means that this is not the right sleep technique for your child and you need to try another.
Another example, is having a goal for the behaviour of your child. If you expect that your child will behave well at all times, or even every time you go and do your grocery shopping, then this aim is again, not in your control. It is also in conflict with the reality that children are developing at their own rate and logic and reasoning is one of the last stages of brain development. Sometimes their priorities will not match yours and they will not behave in the way you think they should, regardless of whether you have told them a thousand times how to behave when you are at the shops.
You need to consider all of the elements of the situation surrounding your goal and check whether you have a healthy level of expectation when moving towards the achievement of your aim. You don’t want to be feeling worth-less again should things not go to plan and you have a hiccup along your journey towards your aim. You need to be in full alignment with the reality of achieving goals when you are a parent. As my girlfriend used to say – ‘You figure out what it is you want to do and then you plot and scheme around your kids to do it’. This is the reality of being a parent. Gone are the days where you can do what you want, when you want, so this reality needs to be considered when setting your aim.
In week seven, once you have a very thorough understanding of the thoughts step, the reality step and why you are 100% worthy just the way you are, I am going to help you to establish some goals that you can start going for in your own life.
But for now here’s how to apply this step to your life:
Ask yourself, “What do I want to do about this situation?” What is the ideal scenario to establish here? What do I want?
These questions will begin to send your attention in a solution focused direction where answers can be found.
Be specific about your aims. Be clear about how it will look and what it will entail. Set goals that are measurable, achievable and, if possible, set time limits on them. Be aware though that sometimes life doesn’t go to plan and if you don’t achieve these goals on time, then there will always be learning that has taken place. By the time you learn this step more thoroughly in week seven, you will have the ability to see the learning that takes place when we can’t or don’t achieve our goals.
Do a bit of questioning as to why you want what you want. Check that your thoughts or your ‘story’ about getting your aim does not reflect anything about your self-worth.
And finally, be sure that your thoughts are not in conflict with the reality of your life and what is doable within your current circumstances. If it is not do-able right now, what other aim do you need to set first before you can then achieve the original aim?
In tomorrow’s lesson, we will start to look at how you are going to achieve your goals with Step Four of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process – Choices.
The next step after establishing your aim is to begin assessing HOW you are going to achieve your aim. It is one thing to have a goal, but you need to be clear on what you need to do to get there.
Sometimes it is pretty simple how you will get there and other times you have no clue what to do, or the decisions and options seem difficult.
In this step you learn how to resource information in order to educate yourself on how to get to your goal and also learn how to make the best decisions for you and your situation. Not only that, but we also look at your mindset to help you assess which option to take. Your mindset plays a massive role in which decisions to make, as your beliefs will dictate what your priorities are.
It can be difficult sometimes to decide what the best option is for your situation and although some options are easier than others, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the easiest option is the best one (for example a marriage break up versus staying and being unhappy). This may happen because you are thinking about the judgments of others, what others may think, getting approval, worrying that your decisions may upset someone else, worried that you are not good enough to have what you want, worrying about the consequences of your decisions and who they effect etc.
If you consciously assess what your beliefs are about each option, you may just find that, after aligning some of those beliefs with reality, you may just make a different decision than you would have, if you hadn’t looked at the situation in more detail.
This in depth look at your mindset does not always happen with every use of this step however. Sometimes it is quite straightforward to look at what your choices are for working towards your aim and creating a path to get there.
For example, if you had the aim to master the skill of breastfeeding, you would simply start researching how you could get help in this area. You would look for lactation consultants, videos, books, friends who may be able to help, internet or mother’s chat forums. All of these resources would help you to learn more about the skill of breastfeeding. It would be easy to create a plan of how to get to your aim of mastering the breastfeeding skill because the options are easy and don’t really require you to look at your mindset.
However if you were trying to reach the aim of putting your child into day care, this could be a whole different story. You would have to weigh up the options of full-time, part-time, which centre to put your child into and why you want to put them into day care. You would need to look at how you feel about putting them into day care and why you feel this way, addressing any feelings of guilt. In this step you would have learnt already about priorities and what governs your decisions, so you will learn to use this information in the context of making conscious decisions about aspects of your life that may be sensitive to you.
The point of this Choices step is to move you into more of a solution focused approach to your problems. Rather than feeling consumed and trapped by your situation, you are expanding your attention in the direction of answers. You are starting to search for answers in this step by researching and resourcing information.
There is a popular saying that ‘knowledge is power’. When we know what we have to do to get where we want to be and then we educate ourselves on how to do it, we feel much more empowered. This step is helping you to stop allowing yourself to sit in your problems and instead resource solutions and teach yourself how to get what you want.
The Chairman of the Anti-depression Association of Australia whom I’ve had the privelege of working with as well as my own mum, have both been an inspiration to me in my life. They have both taught me that if you don’t know how to do something, then all you need to do is learn how to do it. Educate yourself. Also within the multiple self-help books that I have read throughout my life, the common theme seems to be:
When you don’t know how to achieve something, seek out people who have achieved this very thing, learn from them,
copy what they’ve done into your own life and you will surely reach your aim.
As you have already learnt, we are all learning from one another. Each and every one of us has information that we give each other every day. Each and every one of us has had experiences that someone else may not have had and we have learnt from these experiences.
Seek out those that have experienced and learnt from the very thing that you are challenged by and educate yourself on what they’ve done to succeed. You have to let go of the idea that I ‘should’ know everything otherwise I am weak or worth-less. Because the reality is you don’t know everything. You never will. You are constantly learning and growing. Everyone is. This is the purpose of life.
So in this step, I am urging you to begin learning by resourcing all of the options that are out there that will help you to achieve your aim.
It is a common trap that when we set a goal, we become fixed on getting that goal so much, that we forget that every step we take on the road towards that goal, is you achieving that goal. The value does not come from getting to the goal. Even though there is a wonderful sense of joy and achievement when you get there, the real quality, valuable stuff comes from what you learnt when you were travelling towards your goal.
Research, research, research. Start searching for options on how you can achieve your aim. Use chat forums to ask other parents if your child’s behaviour is the issue, ask maternal health nurses, doctors, go to your library, research on the internet and seek out books or videos that teach you what you need to know. Use this step to gather information, educate yourself on the options that are available that will get you to where you want to go (your aim).
List all of the potential options you have and start assessing which one may be the best one for you. As you do this, be mindful of the thoughts you are having about each step. What is the ‘story’ you are telling yourself about why one option is better than another? Is there any emotion attached to any of the options you are assessing? If so, look into what’s underneath these emotions and what you must believe in order to feel this way? Do your beliefs need to be aligned with reality? (Don’t worry. You will get help with doing this last part as the program continues).
In this step, you may find that you don’t need to go through assessing your beliefs on which option to take, it may be clear cut. You will be able to gauge this by how you feel about the decision you are choosing. If you feel absolutely no hesitations, guilt, or fear when choosing this option, then you do not need to assess your mindset. If this is the case, then simply use this step to help you to move further away from the consuming feelings of being stuck by your problems.
Whenever you feel down about how life is going, just stop for a moment and assess where your mindset is at. Are you thinking of the problem? Or are you searching for solutions? Is the problem because you don’t have the knowledge to change? If so, then get on your computer, get down to the library and educate yourself about how to change things so it is not a challenge anymore.
Embrace challenges as an opportunity to learn more, instead of seeing this challenge as a poor reflection on your abilities. No one ever knows everything about life. The only way to know something is to actively learn it. Memorize this mantra:
If I don’t know how to do something, it doesn’t mean I’m useless. It just means I have something to learn. How can I learn what I need to know?
This goes for whether you are trying to breastfeed, teach your child manners or respect, create a successful marriage, change a bad habit of yours, lose weight, quit smoking, heal yourself from postnatal depression, learn how to make friends, improve a work skill, conceive another child, learn about how to like being a stay at home parent, changing careers, or mastering the work/home balance.
Seek out those who are successful in your challenge and learn from them instead of being sucked into ‘I can’t do it’ and feeling bad because you can’t. The only reason why you can’t is because you lack the knowledge to do what you need to do and all you need to do is learn.
This step is all about research and education so that you do know how to make those changes in your life and reach your aims, all without pinning your self-worth on how life unfolds.
In tomorrow’s lesson, we look at the final step on the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process – Know your plan & action it.
We have now reached the final step on the Mind TRACK To Happiness Process – Know your Plan & action it. It is important to have a plan for how you are going to get to your goal.
In the last step you looked at all of the options you had available and worked towards choosing what works for you, your family and your situation.
Now you want to take this information and break it down into do-able steps. Too many times we become overwhelmed with what we need to do and we end up giving up because it is too hard. Having a plan gives you clear instructions on how you are going to implement the steps you need to take to achieve your aim.
Let’s say, for example you had the aim to clean your house and de-clutter it. You would need to create a reasonable schedule of how you could do this. You would need to list all of the things that you needed to do to complete this mission and put a reasonable time frame on it. Work on doing one room at a time, every few days or every day, depending on your available time. As you get to each room you would tick off that you have done that room.
The idea of this step is to list each step in order and then mark them off as you achieve them. It’s like setting smaller goals within the bigger goal. With each completed mini goal you will see that you are moving closer and closer to your desired aim. Without this plan and the mini-goals it contains, it may feel like you are getting nowhere and you may become discouraged or overwhelmed.
Creating a vision board or a visual step by step plan can help remind you of where you are at on your path towards meeting your aim. Use inspiring pictures and wording to keep you motivated and inspired as you keep going. Tick off each step and write the words ‘thank you’ over the top in black pen to show you that you have achieved a mini goal and appreciate how far you have progressed.
As I said at the beginning of this week, with each brick you place, you get closer to completing the building. Unfortunately we live in a get your life right world that teaches us that we should be able to get what we want, when we want it. However this is not reality. Some things take time and there are steps that need to be taken in order to achieve our aims. Most of the time there is no easy way out. But this is the beauty of learning.
Know that with every action you take, you are contributing to the final goal. And what’s going to happen when you get that goal? Sure, you’ll feel good about your accomplishments, but then what? What do you do then? You will set another goal. This is what we do in life. We set goals and we learn on our way to the goal. Sometimes we get what we want and feel fantastic. Other times we don’t get our goals and we get more learning. We reset our goals and try again with this new information that we’ve just learnt. This is the cycle of life and goals.
Take the option that you decided on in step 4 – Choices and create a step by step plan of what you need to do to get to your aim.
Include in your plan what you need to organise, who you need to communicate with, what equipment or supplies you need to get, if you need to book something, if you need to buy something, if you need to organise babysitters, make appointments and each action you need to implement along your path to reaching your aim.
Create a vision board or a visual plan that you can put up around the house or in a place that you will see it often, complete with motivational quotes and pictures that will keep you inspired and passionate about achieving your goal.
Tick off each step on your plan as you complete it, for it will make you feel like you are getting closer to your goal.
You have now come to the end of the overview to the Mind TRACK to Happiness Process. I have now taught you each step in minor detail so that you can attempt to start using this process in your life. Please know that there is a lot more information to get through yet, so don’t feel discouraged if you are having difficulty in applying some of these steps thoroughly, especially step two – reality. We have a lot of ground to cover that will help you to change your mindset to be in alignment with reality and this doesn’t just happen by reading a few pages of information. I need to show you many ways that this reality step can be implemented, as with the other steps too.
For now, while you are in the learning stages, use the process to become more aware of how you are thinking and how differently you feel when you apply this process even to the small, minor parts to your life.
To start with, just try to become aware of your thinking and how it makes you feel. Remind yourself that these thoughts are only your memes taught to you by the ignorant minds of others and that they do not define who you are. (Step One – Thoughts)
Then try to challenge your mind by seeking out other ways to look at the situation. Practice first, just accepting the reality of the situation. For example my child is misbehaving right now because this is a developmental thing. That’s ok. (Step Two – Reality)
Next, think about what you want (Step Three – Aim) and how you are going to get it. (Okay, if she’s misbehaving, then I am going to stay calm and just direct her attention elsewhere).
How are you going to do this? (Step Four – choices) What am I going to distract her attention with?
Then act on your solution to your problem (Step Five – Know your plan)
Over time as you continue to practice looking at situations with this five-step process it will start to become habit that you approach challenges with this mindset.
You can see, even from that brief little example about your little girl having a tantrum that as soon as you started accepting reality, you also started to think about solutions. What am I going to do about this now that I’m experiencing this reality? By accepting this reality you have already stopped your mind from becoming consumed by the event. It is what it is, so what can I do to move pass this moment? It is a much more empowering approach.
What you will learn in this program is how to create clear aims, make decisions and implement your plans with an accurate perception of your self-worth and the true purpose of goals. This is really important information to grasp as you get back into setting goals for your life.
As you use the Mind TRACK to Happiness process more and more you will be retraining your mind not to look at everything that is wrong in your life but start to see the potential solutions to changing your life. As you keep applying this method to the day to day small things that are causing you stress, you will find that you can apply them to the bigger things in life too.
It is important when starting out with using this process that you start small. If you have severe postnatal depression, then you will have to start really small. Perhaps your first goal will be to get out of bed, shower, get dressed for the day and have some breakfast. Even if you spend the day sitting on the couch instead of being in bed, start there. Create the aim to do this for one day, then maybe two days in a row etc and work on your mindset surrounding this goal alone.
As we progress through this program in more detail, I will help you to get a thorough understanding of this process and help you to apply it to many different scenarios that occur in parenthood and with sufferers of postnatal depression and anxiety.
We will use this process to overcome:
You will build a very solid knowledge about how to have an accurate and realistic perception of life and self-worth. You will learn:
Over the next ten weeks you will find that the more information you receive to back up this process, the easier it will be to apply it. You will always have access to each week that you have worked through as long as you are a member, so you will be able to look back on what you have learnt if you need to.
Also remember that you have full support via our Q&A Forum and via email for sensitive questions. I am here to help you to stop doing postnatal depression and help you to apply this method to your unique personal situation.
Tomorrow is exercise day, where I will help you to begin applying what you have learnt so far into your life. Next week we go straight into looking at the first step of the Mind TRACK to Happiness process – Thoughts – in more thorough detail and using many examples from parenthood, so you can thoroughly understand how your thinking is responsible for your stress.
NB – there is no audio available for this exercise
In preparation for the week ahead, you are going to start becoming aware of your thinking. For some of you, you are already well aware of some of the thoughts going on that you would desperately like to change.
What we will be looking for is the pattern of thinking that you habitually use and how it is in conflict with reality.
You start to identify this by becoming the observer of your thoughts. Try not to judge these thoughts, but instead, become interested and curious about them. These are the memes that have been set up from your childhood and it is these belief systems that you will need to become aware of so that you can change them.
As I have discussed you will do this by becoming aware of them in the present moment. After all, it is in this present moment that these thoughts exist. Not in the past. Not in the future, but now in this current moment in time.
Try to detach from these thoughts by remembering that these thoughts do not define you. They are not reality. They are just thoughts.
Here are the instructions for following this exercise:
1. Start by becoming aware of how you are feeling. As soon as you feel yourself being angry, guilty, down, bad about yourself etc, start observing what you are saying to yourself. What is the conversation going on in your mind? (Remember, you won’t be able to catch all of your thoughts, however just catch as many as you can. You will get better at this as you keep doing it.
2. Become the observer and stay curious and interested in what is going on in your mind. You are educating yourself on what memes are in your brain. These are what cause you to feel stressed or depressed.
3. Get yourself a new notebook and turn to a double page.
4. On the left hand side of the page, list 5 thoughts that you catch per day that cause you to feel badly or that you believe are contributing to your stress, depression or anxiety.
5. Do this every day for the next 7 days.
6. Contemplate where you think each thought comes from. Where did you learn to believe this thought to be true? Whose belief is it? Is it really yours or did it come from the mind of someone else (mum, dad, teacher, society, religion, family values, observations, a result of an experience).
7. Challenge your belief and ask yourself whether there has ever been a time where this belief has not been true (for example, does it apply to everyone? Or just you? Why just you and not everyone? Has there ever been a time where this was not the case? Is there a possibility that sometimes the opposite can happen?)
8. At the bottom of the page, write a few words about how you think this belief was set up and whether or not you believe it is a belief that you wish to hold onto.
9. Rate this belief out of 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being the highest) as to how true this belief is if applied to everybody.
10. Leave the other side of the page blank, as we are going to come back to this exercise and upgrade these thoughts to be in alignment with reality at the end of week five.