The secret to happiness is letting go of a situation,
letting it be what it is,
instead of what you think it should be.
Why do we all find it hard to just BE, being in the moment, enjoying where we are and whatever the situation is? Why do we just DO, why do we get annoyed, frustrated and lose sight?
I’m sitting on a 50ft sail boat, moving from Stromboli, a volcano island to Sicily mainland and I was surprisingly starting to feel frustrated. If you’re a sailor you would have realised I said ‘moving’ not sailing! I have been on the boat for three days now and there hasn’t been any wind, so no sailing. I know this is just nature and I can’t control the weather, so why am I feeling frustrated? Why was I feeling I wanted to get off the boat and go home? Why was I beating myself up for spending all this money? Why did I feel like I wanted to cry?
These are just feelings and emotions I was going through, deep down I was feeling l didn’t fit in with the group on the boat, I felt like I’d been stupid for even thinking of coming on the trip. I had only known one other person and that was from another sailing trip…. Bang, there it was!! There was my problem! EXPECTATION! My expectation – Sailing.
I had said to so many people and myself, it’s the sailing I love, it’s ok that I don’t know the people. I’m there for the sailing. I was focused on the sailing, I had been ok for the first few days with no wind, I was unwinding, reading, doing yoga on the front of the boat but I was getting bored and all I could do was focus on the negative, it was creeping in, slowly and slowly taking over.
Instead of allowing the emotion and feelings to eat away at me, I sat with the negative and faced my feelings, asked them some questions. I started with just being in the feelings, allowing them to come one by one and as they did I asked;
Is this real?
Does my emotion have real weight?
Do I really feel this, if so why?
Was this real?
NO, I understood I couldn’t control the wind.
Then what was it? Why was I wanting to get off the boat? Why was I feeling I didn’t fit in?
Does this emotion have any real weight?
All I keep feeling and hearing in my head; Why did you spend all this money? I was beating myself up!
But why? Do I really feel this?
NO, All I really wanted was to sail!
There it was… I had focused on the sailing, not on being away, enjoying the company and having a holiday.
Because I didn’t push the feelings or emotions away, I then realised my expectation, Sailing – I had a lack of sailing.
The more I’d asked the more I understood. The more I understood the more I could be reasonable with myself.
Did I really feel that I didn’t fit in? not at all. They might have been different people to me but that doesn’t make me not fit in. I had created that feeling of not fitting in because I didn’t have the sailing in common with them. I had turned it into an emotion of; ‘not being good enough’ (an old emotion), every little thing that happened started to become a bigger thing. Instead of it being something that had happened and now it was gone.
As soon as I had faced my fears and worked through them, I could relax, I could feel better about myself and I could see things more clearly. I started to look at all the great things that had happen while I been away so far, I started with the basics that I had already mentioned, time to read but I added in the sun and fresh air, yoga every morning, while looking out at the horizon. I added, seeing the dolphins swim with the boat on a number of occasions, watching a volcano erupt against the dark sky and then watching the sun rise behind the volcano, experiencing Sicilian culture and food and making new friends.
Why hadn’t I focused on all these? I usually do, I’m usually really good at that. What had changed? Why was I slipping back into old emotions, I hadn’t felt these in a long time?
NAT’S. Negative – Automatic – thought’s
NAT’s are thoughts that seem to just pop into your head without warning, they often drive our behaviour in unhelpful directions and trigger negative feelings.
The Big Four Types of Negative Thinking
• All-or-Nothing Thinking: “I have to do things perfectly, and anything less is a failure.”
• Focusing on the Negatives: “Nothing goes my way. It feels like one disappointment after another.” A variation is being overly judgmental: “The world is falling apart. I don’t like what I see around me.”
• Negative Self-Labelling: “I’m a failure. If people knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me. I am flawed.”
• Catastrophizing: “If something is going to happen, it’ll probably be the worst-case scenario.”
Other Common Types of Negative Thinking
• Excessive Need for Approval: “I can only be happy if people like me. If someone is upset, it’s probably my fault.”
• Mind Reading: “I can tell people don’t like me because of the way they behave.”
• Should Statements: “People should be fair, and when they are not they should be punished.”
• Disqualifying the Present: “I’ll relax later. But first I have to rush to finish this.”
• Dwelling on the Past: “If I dwell on why I’m unhappy and what went wrong, maybe I’ll feel better.”
• Pessimism: “Life is a struggle. I don’t think we are meant to be happy. I don’t trust people who are happy. If something good happens in my life, I usually have to pay for it with something bad.”
Developing balanced thinking can break this pattern of the negative thinking and feeling. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you feel you are slipping into negative thoughts and feelings
What evidence is there that this thought is true?
What evidence is there that this thought is not true?
What would I tell someone I loved if they were in this situation and had these thoughts?
If my automatic thought is true, what is the worst that could happen?
If my automatic thought is true, what is the best thing that could happen?
The Root Cause:
Under all these layers was my root cause, my real problem.
So, none of this was about the people on board or even the sailing, it was all about me feeling unsettle with my life because of all the changes that are going on. This had made me slip back into old habits, I was telling myself I should be at home working and sorting the business. This could have spoiled my whole holiday but because I faced my fears and sat with them, I was able to move on and go back to ‘Being’, really being in the moment and not just Doing.
I’m not saying we need to analyse ourselves all the time but it does help to look at what is our stuff and take responsibility, not just blame or be angry at ourselves or others.
Hayley Bennett Wellbeing