I don’t know about you but at this time of year I find that a lot of my clients become super busy. A combination of returning to work from time off, kids returning to school with all that this entails and the feeling that we should make the most of the rest of the year before it comes to an end, seems to be a perfect storm for extra stress and pressure, with it all seemingly needing to be ‘done now’ before time runs out.
I remember a while back now, I had a professional client who was experiencing just this, she was an extremely capable woman, the type who was used to juggling a million things all at once. However, what struck me at the time was the amount of effort and energy she was putting into everything that she was doing, she was racing around at a hundred miles an hour — even rushing into my office to see me and unsurprisingly she was totally exhausted.
Her whole approach to the situation she was in was that she simply didn’t have enough time but that also she wasn’t working hard enough, that she needed more energy and if she wasn’t so tired that she could get more done in the limited time she had. She felt that she was letting those around her down because things weren’t getting done that needed to get done and even though she had numerous strategies and techniques, there never seemed to be enough hours in the day or energy in the tank.
I remember asking her gently, ‘does your head go as fast as you do?’ She looked at me a little deflated and replied ‘my head never, ever stops, it’s just a constant stream’.
We then explored what that was like, she described how her mind would go over everything that she had to do, tell her that she didn’t have enough time, set out what would happen if she didn’t do it. It would describe pitfalls and problems which make her feel worried and stressed. She would make a decision but then almost immediately her mind would doubt it was right. Like a swirling whirlpool of thought, she was getting more and more sucked in.
I enquired how much energy did she think all that thinking took up? She stopped in her tracks and she laughed as she replied ‘absolutely loads — it’s exhausting!’, I asked if it helped, to which she replied ‘no, not at all!’
I shared with her that in my mind being busy in our minds is like intending to go for a lovely bike ride in the country on an exercise bike. It doesn’t matter how fast you pedal, you won’t leave the house!
I then explained my own story of burnout and stress. How I had come across the teachings of Sydney Banks, how in one of his books, ‘The Missing Link’, he describes thought as ‘a divine tool, nothing more, nothing less, only a tool. A wise person, like a good tradesman, uses this tool to the best of his or her ability’ and further that ‘Thought is not reality; yet it is through Thought that our realities are created’. I remember reading these over and over again, for the first time, I realised the great degree of control I had over my own mind, and more importantly that just because I thought something, it didn’t make it true. From that moment, I began to notice that I could get things done with a really busy mind, interacting with every worry or fear, stress or pressure; or I could simply not pay attention to them, and as a result my mind would become quieter and I could simply do what I needed to do in relative peace.
Noticing how our mind plays tricks on us in this way, how it innocently creates fear, worry, stress, pressure, often based on our past experience that it doesn’t want to repeat, allows us to have the choice whether we pay attention to it or not. Moreso when we don’t pay attention to this unhelpful thinking, the thoughts pass naturally leaving our minds quieter and often for more helpful thinking to emerge.
Understanding how our system works in this way, enables us to be wiser in how we use this beautiful tool called thought, leaving us with more energy, more clarity, a far more spacious feeling to simply do what we need to do with more ease and calm.
Andrea Morrison is a Transformational coach, speaker and writer, who challenges the traditional Alpha ideology, encouraging her clients to become courageous, acting from their heart not their head. She is passionate about freeing the human mind to achieve potential whilst retaining life balance and enjoyment.
To find out more about Andrea you can visit her website at andreamorrison.co.uk or watch her captivating TedX talk ‘When I stopped trying to be confident I became unstoppable!’