an infection of the mind

Leave one rotten piece behind and it will infect the whole basket of fruit.

When you whip your self into shape, you have to whip every part of you into shape.

The past week has been great. Actually, I have been having a pretty good month emotionally and mentally. Whilst I have had moments of brief anxiety and mild stress, overall, I have been doing well. Until yesterday. The changes I have made in the past 5 days have meant that my body and mind are probably feeling quite vulnerable. I am being more strict with myself and after my 10K yesterday, I felt exhausted; mentally and physically. When we are tired we should look after ourselves and shut off from the world until we feel re-energised.

I didn’t do that.

Instead, I engaged in four deep conversations, two of which left me feeling drained and stressed out. My natural inclination is to be an empath, so I tend to take on people’s emotions. Even worse, both discussions were my friends telling me how my actions in a certain instance made them feel, which, any other day would have been fine, but I was already feeling exhausted and now adding on the burden of looking after their emotions overwhelmed me.

tired (mk-version)

Being an individual who hates conflict, I took it in and dealt with their concerns effectively. But after those conversations, the emotions stayed with me. I felt negative, my body felt tired, my mind was exhausted. I felt sad and I couldn’t shake it off. The emotions were unhelpful. I went to bed feeling really low.

When a person experiences an unhelpful emotion (sadness, depression, anxiety etc.), it is usually preceded by a number of unhelpful self-statements and thoughts.

– Centre for Clinical Intervention.

What was I telling myself in the instances before feeling overwhelmed? How did I interpret the conversations I had with my friends? Sure, I might have done or said something wrong, but was it so major to result in me going to bed feeling low? Was I making a mountain out of a molehill? What happened to my perspective? Perhaps in my eyes, my behaviour had made sense, but I was ignoring the balanced perspective of the situation. Black and white thinking, no room for the grey.

Unhelpful thinking pattens is a common psychological problem and there are numerous phrases to explain the various thinking types. The chart below explains the most common types of thinking patterns. Think of a recent time when you felt upset, down or depressed. Can you identify, using the chart below, what unhelpful thinking style you were exhibiting?


Once you can identify your uphelpful thoughts, you may be able to change them or observe them. Ekhart Tolle calls this observer the “watcher”.

“Be the silent watcher of your thoughts and behavior. You are beneath the thinker. You are the stillness beneath the mental noise. You are the love and joy beneath the pain.”

-Ekhart Tolle

Disengaging from your thoughts and refusing to entertain their negativity is the first step to reclaiming peace from the mental noise. Once you identify what type of thought it is, it’s then easy to see (from the list above), that it is irrational and doesn’t paint an accurate picture of reality.

If negative thinking habits are a serious problem for you, I suggest you read The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. It will change your approach to your life situations and teach you the art of being the “silent watcher”. I’ve read the book twice and I am nowhere near achieving “silent watcher” status, but “Rome was not built in a day” and I stay hopeful that one day I will get there.

I rode the wave of negative thoughts last night and I ended up in a negative place. Surprise surprise. Today I have woken up determined to stay on top of my emotional and mental health. Whilst I have been looking after my body, I have neglected the rest of me. My discipline series also means I have to be disciplined with my mind and my emotions.

Leave one rotten piece behind and it will infect the whole basket of fruit.

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