'You can't solve a problem with the same thinking that caused it'
A while back I was in a bathroom in a friends' house, looking at one of the myriad of stocking filler books that are thoughtfully piled next to the loo. It was a book of cartoons about the differences between the sexes. There was one cartoon that made me laugh so much that I was surprised the household didn't rush in to check if I was alright.
It was a picture of a couple in bed together, thought bubbles coming from both the man and the woman. The woman was thinking something along the lines of 'Does he love me? Did I annoy him earlier? Is this relationship going to work? Will he want children? Do I want children with him? Shall I lean over and give him a kiss? Oh god, oh god, oh god.'
And the man? He was staring at a fly on the ceiling thinking:
'I wonder how flies manage to land upside down?'
Our brains, more than anything else, create our experience. If you spend much of your time thinking about problems, you will tend to feel anxious. If you spend much of your time thinking about a new exciting venture, you will tend to feel positive and exhilarated. If you spend much of your time thinking about someone you love, you will experience whatever feelings are associated with that person. Your prevailing mental and emotional states affect everything you do, and they also feed back into everything you think, which in turn affects how you feel, and so on. Not a bad thing, then, to take a look at what you spend your time thinking about?
1. Take a good sized piece of paper and draw an oval shape on it to represent your brain.
2. Underneath your brain, write the things in your life that are never far from your thoughts at the moment. Perhaps it's a certain person, an important project at work, money problems, your health, getting a new job.
3. For each one, and there may be only one or two, mark off a section of your brain that roughly reflects what proportion of your thinking time you spend on it. You may like to do it like a pie chart, or you may have a sense of which part of your brain you use to think about that particular area of your life. You may want to draw pictures or patterns in those parts of your brain, to represent your thoughts. This doesn't have to be an accurate mathematical diagram, it's just a picture to give you a rough indication of what is going on in your brain on a day to day basis.
4. Next, consider the following areas of your life:
Family and friends
Self care (eg relaxation, learning, self-help)
Leisure and creativity
You may already have covered some of these in the previous step. For any that you haven't, draw some shapes in your brain that reflect how much attention you give to them.
5. Now have a look at your brain. What do you make of it? How is the way you divide up your thinking reflected in your day to day life, in terms of how you feel and what you do? Are you happy with it? Is there anything you would like to focus on that you currently do not?
6. Pick one or two areas that you would like to focus on more, and imagine what it would be like if you did.
What would you like to do next.... ?