We are all in survival. Uncomfortable, unsure, unclear. Many a time in my life have I found myself exactly here. How did it happen again? 2020 was supposed to be the year of wedding bells, a beautiful honeymoon, and personal growth. Not navel gazing. The world has shifted from a glistening oyster to the shells around my inner world – my sensory space, spiritual space, emotional space, intellectual space. This is what matters most, right here right now.
The body-brain connection is well known and well-researched. We are aware, and we all try our best. But what sits in the space between? And why is it of such importance we preserve that precious gift through caring for the neighbouring top and bottom partners. Let us just call it the light. And once that light is out, things tend to get very dark. It is indeed a worthwhile effort to protect your center with healthy bottom-up and top-down strategies.
Bottom up sensory strategies are simple, non-threatening and to me as a sensory coach, easy to advocate. Using your movement system to regulate, tapping into practices such as yoga to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, eating healthily and remembering to smell that rose, switch off that phone, light that candle, wear those headphones, use the hot water bottle. Once you are aware of your sensory profile and needs, you can easily take care of yourself and scientifically reset your nervous system bottom-up. But is that enough?
Humbly I admit that no, it is not. Top-down strategies are much harder to implement and embrace. Uncomfortable and challenging to say the least. But I have learnt the hard way that incorporating them and diligently guarding over my inner world, my thoughts, are as preserving of the light within, as sensory health.
All credit to Joyce Meyer who taught me about the battlefield which is my mind. If we practice our sensory strategies, but our inner worlds are rife with conflict and messy thought patterns, we do all the hard work to no avail.
Yes, I jogged and trained and breathed and went for blow dries. I diligently took care of my bottom-self and reaped the benefits of sensory self-care. But I also needed to filter every thought that entered my mind. If we can decide what we eat, how we train, the hobbies we engage in, then certainly no one else is responsible to filter our thoughts?
My dad always jokingly said that when Joyce speaks, you better listen up as she will only say it once. I used to giggle at this, but I desperately needed her “firm hand” in my life. The thought patterns I used to overindulge in were unhelpful and I needed to change them with immediate effect. No lengthy counselling sessions, no prolonged discussions, no debates, no back-and-forth. Just action.
In her book, The Battlefield of the Mind, Joyce talks about “wilderness mentalities” – those thought patterns keeping you captive, unable to enter your own promised land.
She pointed out believing your future to be determined by your past or present, is a faulty mindset which will keep you from dreaming big dreams and living a big life. We are all dealing with some sort of trauma from our pasts, and at present circumstances are challenging to say the least, BUT this does not, and never will, determine our future.
Not taking responsibility for your own life and decisions is a tricky one, as we all to some extend wish to remain immature, calling on someone else to step in and help when circumstances get tough. (I warned you these were relentless! For a long time, I believed in the prince charming phenomena, it is of no use at all – trust me.)
Having things easy, and having things immediately, because we are special and deserving of nothing less, were wilderness mindsets I personally battled with, being the youngest and ever so slightly indulged child in a loving, caring and generous family.
Not taking charge of negative thought patterns like fault finding and grumbling is another mindset we easily fall into. It is easy to dissect, judge and blame-shift. Has it not been the most fun to criticize our government during the covid19 period, at least there was someone to blame?
Not owning up to inappropriate behaviour patterns and becoming the victim because of your own choices and decisions. I found this one especially challenging as I married the wrong man too quickly, literally on a prayer and a whim, and then found it terrifying facing up to my own contribution for my woes.
Amplifying how miserable our lives were and waddling in sadness, is, although tempting, another unhelpful mindset. I needed to decide to not feel sorry for myself for having my wedding postponed due to lockdown (to the right man this time around – oh the frustrating irony of it all?!)
For some mindboggling reason we love to tell ourselves that we do not deserve good things and blessings. Now why would that argument ever hold? We were all created equal, we all advocate for equal rights, yet when we are to receive goodness, prosperity, and abundance, we find it uncomfortable and overwhelming.
Jealousy and envy are, for obvious reasons, wilderness mentalities keeping us poisoned and turned away from joy and peace. I needed to let go of the fact that I was not the mother of “any children”, to be able to accept that I was indeed the extraordinary gift given to my extraordinary stepsons, and vice versa.
The last wilderness mentality is to go at it your way, or not at all. A measure of humility sometimes goes a long way. We all have so much to learn. The universe is gently teaching and patiently guiding, eager to help around every corner.
And there you have it! A survival guide of note. And that from a sensory coach and not a psychologist. Forgive me. You know what they say about desperate times…
Filter your sensory activities to fit your profile like a glove and filter your thought patterns to win the battle in your mind. Then step back and see how brightly your light shines, being bombarded with such goodness on either side.
Hopefully, my next blog will not be about my online wedding, I honestly couldn’t bear it.