🤡A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 20. Embracing your inner weirdo🤡

What things do you avoid because you have become attached to a particular label or idea that you have about yourself?

I always label myself as shy and awkward. I get nervous infront of large crowds and I stutter when I am under pressure. 

These labels and ideas can become part of who you are- how others see you and how you view yourself. This can prevent you from growing, from shedding out-of-date dislikes, habits, and behavior.

Exercise:

What is on your list of things to avoid? Choose something from the list and try experiencing it as if it for the first time. 

Giving presentations to large crowds and any other form of public speaking. 

Explore it with as many of your senses as possible. Pay attention to any resistance that arises in the form of thoughts, memories, emotions, and bodily sensations. Tease out your experience. What do you notice? This not about forcing yourself to like it- you stil may not- but rather to see it with fresh eyes. 

Thoughts:

 Everyone is staring at me and judging me. Why am I so awkward and cringey. 

Memories:

 I stuttered handing over in that meeting. I forgot the words of a prayer on my confirmation. I always go roaring red in the face and can’t make eye contact. 

Emotions: 

Embarrassment, anxiety, nervous, apprehensive, overwhelmed. 

Bodily sensations: 

Tightness in chest, short of breath, nauseous in belly. 

This weeks exercise was about viewing the label or view you have of yourself in a different light. I decided to go the extra mile and face the label head on. On Wednesday I had to speak infront of an audience and tell them about myself and my single life. I done a lot of yoga and meditation in the weeks leading up to this event to keep me grounded. I done a million and one deep belly breaths beforehand and decided not to say out loud that I was nervous, even though I was. I didn’t want to feed into my emotions but I did acknowledge them to myself. Sometimes I find if you tell a friend you feel nervous, they feed into the emotion with you. “Don’t worry, no need to nervous, it’s ok, it is a scary experience……” They just help you overthink the whole “I feel nervous”, instead of just acknowledging the emotion and letting it pass. I try not to zone in on my emotions because I don’t want to magnify it and bring it to a head. It works for me anyway. 

This event was something I had never done before and naturally I felt apprehensive about the whole thing. I tried to stay away from coffee as this can heighten my anxiety levels. I organised and planned everything in advance i.e. Hair and make up. I made sure I was ready a few hours early so I wasn’t running around making myself sick with anxiety. I ensured I done everything at a slow pace and done my belly breaths all throughout the day. I know from past experiences that I tend to speak faster when I feel anxious. Therefore, I decided to focus on speaking slower and taking breaths throughout my sentences. 

Right before I walked on stage, I felt very overwhelmed by all the bright lights and I could feel anxiety raising just a little. I got to the top of the steps, walked towards the stool, sat down, had a giany belly breath and instantly I felt at ease. I didn’t make eye contact with anyone in the audience and just pretended I was a lot more confidence than I was. IT WORKED. Of course there were times when I got a bit awkward. A few years ago I would have given myself a hard time of this and spoke very negatively towards myself during and after the awkwardness. The whole event went great and I didn’t stutter once. I was as calm as I have ever been. 

I did also put some more ground work in. I find researching new ways of viewing myself and getting tips for building self esteem very useful. I found a video on YouTube and watched it while I was waiting around before the event:

https://youtu.be/0Tk82hEHNnY

It spoke about the Deutsch scholar and philosopher Erasmus and his view on humans. He believed that everyone, no matter how important or learned they might be, is a fool. He even viewed himself as a knit-wit. He described himself as shy, awkward, makes bad decisions, lets things fall at fancy dinners, says the wrong thing at the wrong time. It helped normalise these traits. 

“Being weird and awkward doesn’t make us unfit for society, it makes us just like the greatest scholar of the Northern European renaissance.”

The video also spoke about Pieter Bruegel, who painted the picture ‘The Deutsch Proverbs’. The painting shows many different parts of the human being. He wanted to send out the message that “We are all deranged”. 

“The key to greater confidence is not to reassure ourselves of our own dignity. It is to grow with peace of the inevitable nature of our ridiculousness. We are idiots now. We were idiots in the past and we will be idiots again in the future.”

I remember I spoke to my friends about the event a few days before and I explained I was worried that they would make me out to be weird and stupid. One of my friends responded “Julia, it will be you who will make yourself out to be a weirdo because you are a weirdo. I don’t think you need help with showing the audience that you are one”. This strangely made me feel at ease. It really didn’t matter if I was made out to be a bit foolish or weird. Naturally as a human being, I am weird and foolish. This experience will not make me more or a less a fool. Being weird and foolish is the norm. Each and every one of us is a complete fool. This gave me greater confidence that day. 

Message: Self acceptance is key. Accept your weirdness and accept the fact that no one is prim and proper and everyone makes mistakes and acts absolutely ridiculous sometimes. 

Reflection: This weeks exercise has helped me immensely. The event was obviously a bonus but my god I have learned so much about myself. The label I had of myself as “shy” and “awkward” has completely lifted and I now see myself as a weird, confident, complete freak and I absolutely love it! 

J x


Advertisements

⭕️A Year of Living Mindfully: Week 14⭕️

MOVING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

As we get older and morph into old grannies we develop habits and routines. We can tend to do the same thing day in day out. We’ve conquered our own particular way of doing something and continue to do it that way because “we’ve always done it like that”. It is easier to stick to what we know, what we are used to. Change can petrify people. The unknown can petrify people. The brain uses less energy when it sticks to a routine. It becomes lazy. By staying within its comfort zone it means few less unpleasant surprises. However, when things do not go according to plan we can experience great amounts of unhappiness.

How do we prepare for the unexpected?

Building up resilience! Deliberately get out of your comfort zone and prepare yourself for the unexpected. Allow yourself to become more adaptable to change. Build up your tolerance levels by practising small inconsequential things.

This exercise asked me to make a list of things I always do the same way:

  1. I always have a coffee first thing in the morning.
  2. I always check the train and bus times a million times before it is due.
  3. I always check all social media apps before I go to sleep and when I wake up.
  4. I always sleep on my stomach.

Then I had to choose one thing to do differently each day. I chose not to have my morning coffee first thing when I woke up. I approached it with a ‘beginners mind’ and allowed myself to be ‘curious’ throughout the experiment. These are two very important attitudes to attain to improve your mindfulness practice. We spoke about these in more detail in ‘Week 3: Cultivating the Attitudes’.

Personal reflection

What did you notice that arising before?

Thoughts: I am going to fall asleep on the train to work. I will not be able to function. I can just imagine how irritable I am going to be.

Emotions: I feel tired already. Irritable.

Felt sensations in the body: Heaviness in my chest.

What did you notice arising during?

Thoughts: Ok, I’m still awake. I can make it to work. Its not the end of the world.

Emotions: I feel tired. I feel anxious. I feel asleep (is that even an emotion?).

Felt sensations in the body: Headache

What did you notice arising after?

Thoughts: I didn’t fall asleep. It wasn’t actually that bad. I completely over-rely on coffee. I need to change my morning habit to something less addictive. Maybe I can get my caffeine buzz from a healthier green tea? I think I still need coffee though? I am an addict.

Emotions: I feel tired and sleepy. I miss coffee. I feel sad.

Felt sensations in the body: My body is a bit drained.

The book recommends using your breath to keep you anchored during this exercise. I thought I would be a bit of a drama queen if I started to do deep breathing exercises because I missed my coffee. BUT I DID. I ❤ COFFEE. OK, so my experiment was not extremely ‘out of my comfort zone’ but it did bring up some nasty feelings and made me become more aware of my over reliance on coffee. Am I addicted to coffee or am I addicted to the routine? I was certainly out of my comfort zone sitting on that train, day dreaming about coffee beans. I felt anxious and uneasy. Usually I am quite content on the train to work. My poor brain is usually slowly sipping my coffee mug day dreaming about nothing. But there it was on overdrive having unnecessary nightmares about coffee. Maybe next time I’ll do something a bit more spontaneous like walk to work instead of getting the train? Confuse my little brain up completely.

 

 

J x