In my previous post I told you about my transition from leaving the M.O.D police and relocating back to St. Helens. I told you about the mental aspects that I struggled with the most. I can look back now (obv
iously hindsight is a wonderful thing) and with everything that was happening, I felt like I didn't have control over my life anymore, there were to many parts to juggle and it all seemed insurmountable. That's what caused a lot of my anxiety and over a prolonged period of time, stress, chronic stress and depression.
So, in this post I'm going to try to explain some of methods I used that were integral in helping myself and my partner Laura get through this period of change. Many people forget or just don't realise the effect this has on the other people in the family, they are living this experience too, they have their own anxieties and worries as well being there to support you.
You may read this afterwards and think "well that was obvious, that's nothing new" or " I already know that." It’s one thing knowing and another thing to actually do it, to change your mindset and to change your perspective.
Control what you can control.
This for me had a mindset and practical aspect to it, I spoke about it in the previous post. The fact that even with all the experience gained within the M.O.D police, on paper I had no qualifications that related to any other jobs. Instead of concentrating on the aspects that I didn't have control over, I could certainly control things like putting a CV together, setting up job alerts online to your email, uploading a CV to a job website, also taking your CV to local recruitment officers, rehearsing interview questions and techniques.
I also looked at my finances and how I could start to save and control my outgoings. Cutting down on nights out and take always. These may sound so simple but in reality when that darkness takes over and you allow the mind to dance from one thought to another, before you know it you have built a whole new world in your head which was based on negative thoughts and limiting beliefs. These tasks helped me to remain in the now, in the present. They allowed me to take a little bit of control back.
Simple stuff but certainly not easy, especially when your head is wrecked. Now this next statement may take a while to sink in, after you have read it just stop and think about it for a second.
“All you really have control over in life are your thoughts and actions!”
Please let that sink in, for me this was a game changer, it changed my perspective massively on how to deal with change. Don’t get me wrong, I still fall back into old thought patterns but I'm working on it. So let me explain what I mean. Life will happen one way or another sometimes you perceive it as bad and sometimes you perceive it as good, but all you have control over is what you think about any given situation and how you behave as a result.
One of my main issues as I discussed was that my mind was always thinking about the future but it wasn't an objective perspective of the future it was influenced by my fears, worries and insecurities. I allowed these thoughts to become dominant, what I mean to say is that I gave these thoughts energy, I gave them fuel and they grew and grew and spiraled out of control. One way I learned to control this pattern was to live and exist in the present moment.
Sorry about that, I'll give you a minute! I know what that sounds like, you’re probably ready to label me a hippy or part of some mad cult, however, allow me to explain. When you’re in the present, completely anchored in what is happening now then you have that control we spoke about earlier. You control your thoughts in this moment and you control your actions in this moment. It's all you have, THIS MOMENT. You can't change the past and the future hasn't happened. Every time you catch yourself lost in the dance of the mind. Whether it's dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. I learned to just BREATHE!! That's right, breathe just concentrate on your breathing. This will allow you to come back to the present moment.
Breathe!! Feel the air fill up your lungs, your abdomen feel the shoulders rise and fall with each breath, this is a simple technique to slow down that cycle of thoughts in your mind. There are plenty of resources available online that go into greater detail about this but it is beyond the scope of this blog. My aim was just to highlight where the anxiety and the stress lie and it is in dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. The power is in controlling your thoughts and your actions in this moment because it's all you ever have.
I was constantly worrying about getting a job, paying bills, interviews and then getting nervous then what if I get the job a whole new set of problems and concerns. I need somewhere to live. What about deposit and on and on and arghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!
Think about the practical things you can control and take the time to practice. Keeping yourself from worrying about a future that hasn't happened other than in your mind!
Just one more thing before I go and something which helped me get my head around quite a difficult thing to understand. A story about a battle that goes on inside your mind, a battle between two "wolves". One wolf is evil it is anger, envy, jealousy, worry, pride, regret, sorrow, guilt and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, kindness, empathy, compassion and hope. Which wolf wins?
The one that you feed will ALWAYS win!!!
Written by David Drury