Are you someone that is focused on clear goals and unaffected by outside influences or are you swayed by distractions, emotions, and other people?
I’m not saying I have it all figured out, or that I know what your life should look like. I’ve just learned the insight that comes from slowing things down for just a minute, and giving yourself the gift of examining your life and contemplating where you really want to go in life.
Many of us live our lives on auto-pilot and letting other people or circumstances decide where we go. Of course, we all have responsibilities and commitments that are influential in our daily choices. Things like, kids, spouse, job, church, and social demands. In order to become more conscious about how these influences are affecting our life choices, ask yourself this question:
“Is this a free choice, or am I being controlled by an outside influence?” If it is an outside influence, ask yourself: “Do I really want to allow this to make my decisions for me?”
Sometimes there are inside influences that push us around, too. Things like, feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, boredom, or urges to fulfill some desire. Staying true to our values is difficult when stressors arise, like minor annoyances and irritations, whining kids, ringing phones, traffic, bad weather, being hurt or disappointed, or even rude people.
What can I do when I catch myself being pushed around by an emotion? I can stop, slow down, and notice what is there. Simply noticing what urge is happening, what desire or knee-jerk reaction is there. Then, I “consciously” choose my next step.
I like the ABC model of managing emotions or desires.
A – Awareness – Slow down and be aware of what’s happening in this moment. What are the external or internal happenings in my environment? Thoughts, feelings, sensations?
B – Breathe – Take a few slow, deep breaths and focus attention on the breath movement. Experience the breath like waves, flowing in and out.
C – Choice – Choose the next action with awareness. Consider responding instead of reacting to your environment.
These concepts can help you to thoughtfully consider your next move with more consciousness and get off auto-pilot.
Read more about the ABC process from the book: The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, 2007, by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Four experts demonstrate how to avoid the mental habits that lead to despair, so you can face life’s challenges with confidence. Or watch this video: The Mindful Way Through Depression: by Zindel Segal