Friday, 5 August 2011

Obsession Part Deux (because that's what we do- we go on and on): Ways to Deal

Disclaimer: no decapitation occurred in the shooting of this
photo.  I think.  How counterintuitive would that be?
Realizing yesterday's post struck a chord with our writer/artist-tribe we now visit some obsession relief techniques.  These are only to be used when obsession is working against you, not when it is doing the tango with your muse.
To review:
  • creative people have active minds
  • active minds are difficult to turn off 
  • anxiety's primary symptom is the inability to turn your mind off
  • do you have anxiety (personally i hate diagnostic boxes)?  we all do at times, but good for you if your art has become your medicine
  • use your obsessions for good and not evil . . . stay away from self-deprecating inner dialogue
  • hence- you can choose what thoughts to put in your mind but that may take some training
Here we go:
  • do you have difficulty relaxing because your brain is working over time?
  • is falling asleep and staying asleep ever a problem?
  • does your life feel out of balance because you are so driven?
Some tried and true methods to beat the crap out of anxiety OR rotten rumination:
  • Here's some irony for you- keep a note pad with you and if you are ruminating about an idea or a task you are afraid you are going to forget WRITE IT DOWN.  I love my iphone for this and voraciously use the notes feature.
  • Keep the note pad by your bed so when you are having that recurring thought that is interfering with your sleep or if you have that inspiring idea or dream that you are so afraid will flee you can WRITE IT DOWN.
  • I know if I say to meditate regularly a percentage of you will roll your eyes.  But what if I say to make it your job to keep your breaths regular?  Trust me on this, I could write a book about how and why this works . . . just do it.  Note your breath throughout your day.  Writers can be the worst.  We get caught up in an inspiring idea we are typing away and guess what else we are frequently doing?  Holding our breath.  And what does that do?  It activates our sympathetic drive (yes the stress gas pedal in our body).  First, just start noticing that your breathing . . . you will be amazed at how irregular it is and how frequently you stop breathing.  Next, make an effort to keep your breath regular- 5 or 6 counts in and 5 or 6 counts out.  The bonus?  This is also very important for overall health (Again, the book that could be written; I'll stop.  Just trust me.)
  • Choose the thoughts that you put in your mind.  If you've had a rejection or are just self-rejecting, STOP. Take some time to focus on that easy, even breathing and choose the more positive thought to put in your mind, "I write with ease," "My writing brings me joy," "I am a successful writer." This simple practice is multi-faceted: you are calming your autonomic nervous system with your even breathing, you are using a form of self-hypnosis by putting your intention into your mantra and you are practicing "thought substitution," which will control negative ruminations.
  • For sleep?  Again, start with the easy relaxing breath.  Center your mind, relax your body and with each breath count backwards from 100.  If you have sleep problems so this EVERY time you go to bed; don't wait for it to be a difficult sleep night.  And save this trick ONLY for sleep because you will be training your mind-body to go to sleep when triggered by the counting of the breath.  We want that happening in your bed, not the board room.
  • And don't forget to move. Get up and go put your feet on the earth regularly.  Set a timer if you must. Walk. Run. Sit and breathe.  Stay connected with the cosmos.  It's easy to disconnect when we spend so much time in our heads.  Your mind and your body needs the earth-energy.
That's enough for today, even though here are so many more simple techniques, and enough to help you get over any obsessive humps.

And how do I know it works?  Years of practice as a psychotherapist and seeing miracle results when folks followed recommendations.

Oh, that and remember?  I obsess.  (but I also smite those obsessions into submission when necessary)

Write On

PS. I'm on day 3 of a little personal project: Living the Life of a Full-Time Writer.  It. Rocks.

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