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:
- You are not broken! There is nothing wrong with you. Understanding that your brain is simply responding in accordance with the beliefs you have grown from your childhood, helps you to realise that stress, depression or anxiety is not a hopeless situation. The chemical response in the brain is a result of your beliefs, not because your brain is malfunctioning.
- The thoughts and the beliefs you have about yourself and life are not who you are. They are merely a product of childhood conditioning – your memes. You adopted this way of thinking because that’s what you witnessed as a child and you didn’t know any different at that time. You observed, experienced and learnt from the minds and behaviours of others and copied them. Over time this way of thinking became an unconscious habit.
- You can retrain your brain to think differently and stop this destructive, incorrect thinking causing you stress. You have been operating through old childhood beliefs, but you are an adult now. Some of the beliefs you adopted as a child are no longer useful to you and now it’s time to change them. Just because your brain has been wired to think in a certain way, it doesn’t mean you just have to live with it. You will change your thinking using the same process that was used to set it up in the first place, by feeding your mind new information about life repetitively until it becomes the new superhighway of thinking and the old way of thinking becomes the goat track.
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.
Your past does NOT even exist unless you create it right now with your mind.
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.