Spam Filter for Your Brain Episode 20
One of the most common objections I hear when I talk about my courses to people face to face and sometimes online, too, is the beautiful phrase "I don't have time". Now, I know that so many of us live packed lives with everything, from just trying to survive out there in the latter stages of capitalism to family stuff to many of us being carers. Quite a lot of us have our health issues, and we have to hold so many different roles and so many other spaces that sometimes you can feel like just taking on any one more thing is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
And what I invite people to get curious about when I am offered the opportunity to have a conversation with them about it, which I'm going to pretend you started this conversation. We're going to have it now.
Managing your mindset and looking after your emotional health and giving yourself tools to stop yourself spiralling and things feeling like they're all too much, gives you more time. Because that feeling of everything being out of control or everything being too much, or just being close to the edge of burnout all the time, that's exhausting.
And when you are operating from that place of exhaustion, everything takes more effort. You have to get over this resistance of how tough everything is before you, even at the baseline.
So when you have tools that enable you to stop feeling like everything is quite so intense, so set against you quite often, just quite so hard and difficult when you have a strategy that you can look at the things that are going on in front of you with the perspective and through the lens of thinking not that everything that you're feeling or thinking is factual, but a toolkit that you can extrapolate.
You can think, "is this thought serving me?" "Is this something that I like?" "Is this getting me closer to where I want to be?" "Does this align with my values?" These kinds of little questions we can ask ourselves about the thoughts that bubble up in our brains and the emotions about having. If we have a lens through which we can filter that stuff, we can look at some thoughts like, "I don't have time" "This is really difficult", "I can't fit another thing in", and "I'm not going to make it." "I'm going to drop the ball on something". All these thoughts will cause you to feel quite stressed and probably quite anxious and cause you to be in a situation where everything you do takes more energy, takes more time, and therefore gives you less time.
And when you can extract from that, not to look at these thoughts, whether good or bad or judge them by thinking "I shouldn't think that" or "I want to stop doing that". Just look at them and go, "Is that helping me?", "Is that serving me?" And if it isn't, what can we do about it?
What I'd like to offer you with this bite-sized piece of brain work today. It is possible that prioritising your emotional well-being gives you more time. It seems ironic to be adding something practical that you need to do to be able to give yourself more space. But it is possible, and I know because I live it, and everybody in selfcareschool would say the same thing.
One of the main reasons why this works is when we are in this state of high stress, quite often we can fall back into our stress response, which is fight or flight, freeze, and they often leave out the fawn. And when we're in this stressed, high-stakes status, it's tough to think about anything other than our survival. So when we have a toolkit that we can lean on to look at some of the emotional well-being things, some of the thoughts that we are having and reflect upon them, whether they are things that we want in our lives or not, we're able to step out of the fire in a way and take on more of an observer's viewpoint.
And from that place, we can have that, once step removed ability to make some strategic decisions ahead of time. And if we can, for example, plan what we're going to do tomorrow, today, it means that I'm not making any big decisions about where I'm spending my time, what I'm doing with myself, how I'm going to tackle this particular task or problem from a state of, "Oh my God, I'm never going to fit this in. How am I going to do everything today? There's already that thing that I still need to do over there. You know, this new information has come in. I have yet to even look at my email box!". There's no space to think calmly, rationally, strategically, and value-aligned, no space for your well-being. There's very little oxygen in all. It is just mashed-up thoughts together. It's all very tight and heavy, and being able to give yourself that slightly removed space of making decisions ahead of time is where we start to increase our capacity, increase our ability to be able to make decisions more rationally, more calmly and more in alignment with how we want to be living our lives. And that in itself gives us more space.
There are two lessons, effectively, in this week's podcast. Hopefully, you will consider some of the questions that you could ask yourself about your days, your thoughts, and your emotions as just whether they're true, whether they're serving you, and if you want to learn how to do that, that's what we teach at SelfCareSchool.
But if you don't want to come and join a course right now in that all feels too much, the other little gem that I would offer you is to try and plan out your time ahead of time. So if you take a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon to plan your week and stick to your diary like it's your boss, you make those decisions ahead of time. And if you need to block in some buffer time or you need to plan and some time for things to overrun, then that's all completely doable. We make up the rules. We're the grown-ups now. But making that decision from a place of calm and perspective stops you from being in the middle of constantly having to put out fires.
And that is what will give you extra time in your week.
I hope this has been useful, and if you want to learn some of this stuff, I'd love to see you over on one of the courses soon.