As another year ends, it is an opportunity to reflect on our achievements, our shortcomings, and set goals and resolutions for the next year. For some, this can be an over whelming process. There are some problems that we seem to be carrying over from year to year and it may feel like you have tried out almost everything and yet it is still there. How do I fix it?
I want to share some insights taken from several books that I have been reading over last year and applied towards my own health journey. I want to share a process that I have been using myself to create momentum towards achieving what I want.
For every problem or a point that we are stuck at in our lives, there is an associated feeling attached to it. This feeling is created by our thought patterns. Often, we find that we keep going in a loop or a cycle without any shifts towards what we want.
I moved to Perth five years ago and six months after I moved here I started to get this itch at the back of my neck. This became eczema. I initially tried the usually eczema treatment of corticosteroids. This helped with bringing down flare ups but it never completely went away. Over the past years I have tried to take a more natural approach by changing diet, avoiding dairy and gluten, applying oatmeal, essential oils, coconut oil, eating more fish / omega 3 rich foods, hemp oil, naturopathy, vitamin D., changing drinking water to spring water. None of these made dramatic improvements to the eczema. My personal goals for 2019 was to get to the bottom of this eczema once and for all.
What I want to share today is my journey and insights into creating a shift towards resolving this eczema. Why am I sharing this? Because I was at a stuck point. I feel like I have gotten out and have some momentum towards truly resolving the eczema. I realize a lot of us are at stuck points with various issues in our lives. The process below can be applied to create momentum towards anything.
This process is addressing the problem at the root level of our thought patterns which will change our feelings and emotions. When our feelings and emotions are changed then this will change the outer problem whether it is long standing pain, injury or weight issues. Of course, not all problems need to be dealt with this much attention. This process is only for long standing problems where you feel like you have tried everything and you literally feel stuck in a cycle.
1. IDENTIFY THE STUCK POINT
This seems like the easiest part of the process. But truly ask yourself, if problem X was to get resolved how would you feel? Are you truly ready to resolve problem X now? Are you committed to resolve it now? It was only towards the end of 2018 that I truly felt ready to resolve my eczema issue. Prior to that I didn’t really see it as an issue or I didn’t have the time to resolve it. The mental commitment must be there.
2. IDENTIFY THE FEELING AND THE EMOTION
We have feeling(s) that come with any problem we have, whether we are aware of it or not. Otherwise, it would not be a problem for us. And this feeling is usually not a nice feeling as otherwise we would not mind having the problem X. A collective of feelings create emotions. And often we are not aware of this emotion(s). Often we are not aware of our emotions and feelings
For me, the underlying feeling was hopelessness and feeling irritable and frustrated. To identify the feeling requires mindfulness. It may be easier to think of the problem happening and observe the feeling(s) you get as you ‘think of the problem occurring’. We often get carried away by the emotions for us to identify them.
3. ACKNOWLEDGE THE FEELING
Acknowledging the feeling or emotion simply means we observe it and how it affects the body. I observed in a meditation space that my feelings of frustration and irritation would change the way I would breathe. I noticed my breath would be more shallow and from the upper lobes than my usual relaxed breathing. In other times I would notice that there would be heaviness over my left eye when this feeling is present. It is interesting to note subtle changes in our bodies when various feelings come up.
The feeling can be released by gathering it using your mind. You increase the intensity of the feeling and exhale forcefully to let it out. I don’t believe you necessarily have to release the feeling as that should shift itself as your awareness shifts more towards acknowledging your feelings.
4. RECOGNISE THE THOUGHT PATTERNS
Our thought patterns create our feelings and emotions. So to truly create a change we need to again identify and recognize the thought patterns behind the feelings. The underlying thought pattern for me was ‘this is too hard’ which created the feeling of hopelessness. I would feel frustrated as I did not empower myself to change anything.
In the book by Esther Hicks, there is a mention of ‘upstream’ thoughts and ‘downstream’ thoughts. Upstream thoughts create negative feelings, and you feel overwhelmed. Our feelings drive are actions and behaviour. So if we feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried, hopeless than we are less likely to take the right action and we stay stuck in the cycle. ‘Downstream’ thoughts give us relief. Downstream thoughts acknowledge our feelings and we are more in line with what we really are.
5. SHIFT THE THOUGHT PATTERNS
Don’t try to think positive as that will move you away from your inner being. Positive thoughts can create expectations. You need to match the thoughts to your feelings. We shift the thoughts to be more ‘downstream’ which is in the flow of the life force.
My thoughts were initially upstream:
I have tried everything
This is too hard
I want this fixed now
As I worked through the process of acknowledging my feelings, my thought patterns started to shift automatically as I became more aware of my feelings. Some examples of downstream thoughts for me are:
When I have this eczema it makes me feel frustrated
I need to work on my feeling of frustration
My eczema will get better in due time
My downstream thoughts empowered me to change. To change my thinking and thought patterns. I realised my real issue was not the eczema but more on how it made me feel. And I discovered it is possible to change how I feel by changing how I think.
6. BE MINDFUL
Being mindful is watching the feelings and the emotions arising within ourselves either whilst the problem is happening or before it happens. As you get better at observing and being mindful of what is happening within you, you may even start to notice there is a pre-cursor. I notice that I start to feel hopeless and if I am not mindful than that would follow with itchiness over the eczema. I am at a point where I can watch out for this feeling before it takes over. There are times when I take the back seat, especially when I tired. Being mindful 24-7 is hard work and that is work in progress for me!
This is a lengthy process and I think that in itself becomes a barrier. Sometimes, we get so sick of a problem or an issue that we want to resolve it asap. But what we are doing is going against the life currant. This takes us further away from what we desire.
7. TAKE ACTION
The correct action will become clear as we work through some of the feelings and emotions. Often we create the barrier towards finding the right action or seeing it through. Taking action without addressing the thought patterns will not address the problem. The most effective way to create a change is to take action whilst addressing the thought patterns at the same time.
It is only in the last month that I am seeing visual improvement in my eczema. It is slowly resolving itself. And the funny thing is now that I have worked through the feelings which made me feel bad, I don’t mind having the eczema after all!
- The astonishing power of emotions – Let your feeings be your guide, Esther and Jerry Hicks, 2007
- Breaking the habit of being yourself, Dr. Joe Dospenza, 2012