(Part Two of a Three Part Series. To read Part One: Has This Ever Happened To You? click here)
Have you ever thought about the gap between where you are now and where you want to be? How about the gap between what you want to do and what you actually do?
Especially in the US, there is a very strong emphasis on wherever you are now NOT being ok. No matter where it is that you are, there is always some place better to be or something more to have.
You aren’t thin enough, rich enough, good enough.
Or you’re too old, too quiet, too sensitive, too worthless.
Add to this the seemingly never-ending challenges you may face on a daily basis and the mounting pressure of life can easily become too much to bear. You begin to seek relief wherever you can.
In the quest to feel better, you are encouraged by a great variety of products, services or activities guaranteed to take your pain away. Even if only for a short time. You are willing to pay whatever price is asked.
Anything to relieve the emotional discomfort you are feeling.
Visual Journaling Page ~ Linda Hough 2015
To be sure, this topic is massive and there is much to say about the origins of our emotional pain.
But the simple answer is this: we really only want to feel better.
So we reach out for what is fast, easily available and satisfies our urge to numb. Shopping, eating, drinking, drugs and smoking are just some of these preferred activities. Striving to be perfect, attempting to control and worry are some of the mental strategies we adopt hoping to get ahead of our pain.
When enacted on a continual basis, these activities develop into a habitual response to our discomfort. Thus begins the creation of bad habits, compulsive behaviors and general unhealthiness that then causes even more pain and suffering.
What seems like an easy answer to feeling good turns into a never-ending cycle that can feel impossible to stop.
BUT what if this whole scenario is based on a huge misunderstanding? What if we’ve gotten this all wrong, how life really works?
I know…take a deep breath in.
Years ago, when I was a young woman deciding what to do with the rest of my life, it was clear to me that the road less traveled was so much more worthwhile than choosing the world of advertising. Even back then, I saw the power of influence and how detrimental advertising could be. I chose to experience my art + design skills in a less commercial way.
Many years of making art + developing a creative practice with visual journaling led me to discover a profound secret: when I took the principles of the creative process and applied them to my life, a sort of magic happened. I felt utterly and completely at peace. Life seemed so much easier.
Visual Journaling Page ~ Linda Hough 2015
This was more of a hit and miss occurrence. I was still experiencing the overeating I described in Part One as well as a crippling resistance to my work.
Recently though, I’ve come across a new understanding of the way our minds work which confirms the experiences I had with my own creative process.
It turns out that we DO have life all wrong.
We have a big misunderstanding about where our feelings come from. We believe that outside events, what happens to us and around us, largely determine the way we feel.
How many times have you said, “That makes me so angry!” or heard “She made me so mad!”
This isn’t the way life works at all. No one or no event can ‘make’ you feel any thing.
I know….take another breath in.
What is true is that the way you experience life comes from your own thoughts, and only your own thoughts 100% of the time. NOT from what is happening outside of you. The only thing we ever feel is our moment-to-moment thinking.
A habit then is what you see as the best option to NOT feel your thinking in the moment. Although it certainly might not look like it, your habit is actually a sign of your innate wellbeing, the best solution you saw in the moment to the problem of feeling bad.
This probably sounds a little convoluted but when you begin to understand this, there is no longer a need to artificially soothe your discomfort. Bad habits drop away. Compulsive behaviors loosen their hold. You live with an ease and grace that may seem impossible from where you are standing right now.
From my own experience I know this to be true.
Some of the most impactful changes I’ve experienced this year:
I’ve stopped dieting. Instead, I’m naturally attracted to eating what is healthy while occasionally enjoying the gifts of French cuisine. And I am losing weight.
I’ve gotten off the yo-yo rollercoaster of feeling bad about myself for weight or for any of the numerous other things I thought were ‘wrong’ with me. Instead, I feel at peace with myself and who I am.
I’ve even ended my procrastination and struggles with resistance. Instead, I trust myself and my timing. I enjoy what I am doing and more often than not, I’m pleasantly surprised at all that I am accomplishing.
I’m not talking about positive psychology here, nor about controlling your thoughts or choosing a different perspective from which to see. This is definitely not about going back into your past to find the origins of a belief or your habit.
I’ll get to how this relates to the creative principle in Part Three. You don’t have to be an artist or creative to benefit from this new paradigm. All you have to be is open to the true understanding of how life really works and then you too can make the best of it.
(Part Two of a Three Part Series. Read Part Three: An Effortless Path to Freedom here)
Daily Quick Collage ~ Linda Hough 2017