Sometimes our thoughts can become so obsessive that there is little room in our heads for anything else. When thoughts are this intense it can work for us or against us depending on what it is we are obsessed about. When our obsessions become troublesome to ourselves or others, it can lead to serious issues. Sometimes our feelings and thinking gets distorted, and intensity levels escalate to unrealistic levels, but because there is elements of truth in our thoughts we will justify our reactions no matter how illogical they are, and we've all been there at some point in our lives, if only as teenagers. Basic neuroscience tells us that what we focus on will grow in intensity, the good stuff and the not so good. The bigger the reaction in us, the stronger the belief or conviction, real or imagined. Sometimes these are so beneath the surface we don't even realise why and Im not yet convinced that we need to spend the time to find out, as irrespectively energy can be channeled to ensure that it works to enable us rather than to disable. It's fair to say that teenagers do not have the capacity to recognise that their own behaviour may be part of their problems, but as adults we should endeavour to look at things more maturely and seek to understand ourselves a little better. “After the Buddha gained his enlightenment, a bemused student asked him how he had changed. After the Buddha had stopped laughing, he explained that he hadn't changed at all – he simply knew who he was now” (Anon). True freedom isn't a destination it's an opportunity we get every single day, and can be accessible if we stay open and honest enough and seek inwardly and not outwardly. Nelson Mandela represented freedom, which he mastered despite his environment, or maybe it was because of it? Awareness and 'waking up' to ourselves can start with the small stuff however. One of the main reasons I started group fitness some 25 years ago now, was not to be fit and lose weight that was just the by product, but rather I found it a way to be temporarily free from thoughts that bogged me down. Complacency has no place as Im getting older either, if anything I need to be even more aware of the subtlety's of life to ensure that what Im doing with my life matches up with my dreams and ideals. With over half my life over I sure as heck don't want to start missing out on quality of life now!.. With awareness comes a recognition of the things that bring personal meaning. For a lot of people money is perceived as the answer to everything, and it's pursuit can be a high price to pay on our health if it becomes an obsession. Whilst money unarguably helps make life easier if the mind is trapped in thinking of never having enough, then all the money in the world will not satisfy. Same with our intimate relationships, if we believe that our happiness lies entirely in the hands of another human being and we are not capable of creating some of own happiness, then we take the risk of losing ourselves and with that our freedom. Finding a balance in our lives requires becoming more aware. With this of course comes the vulnerability in discovering that we are not always right, and learning is an ongoing process. We will make mistakes because of our thinking, we have flaws, and its all part of our personal development. Admit them, be accountable and responsible for them. Accept them and learn from them and move towards the sort of future we want because of them. Keep knowingly making them and we are trapped, learn from them and we are free.
Carla is a lifestyle management facilitator www.carlascoachingforhealth.com