…and I am feeling good

Nina Simone, how she captures the essence of that ‘feeling good’ feeling.  We all know it and we all love that feeling.  It does not matter if you are rich, or if you are poor, we all know and love to be feeling good.  It floods us in waves and makes our faces beam with joy. (It is my first blog allow me some cheese)

We all know about ‘happy ever after’ I think I speak for both men and women here maybe? We read the fairy tales at school and life is already free from responsibility to a large extent for most as children, so we really buy into that stuff don’t we, all that happy ever after way of thinking?  I know most women have their wedding planned on pinterest, way before finding ‘Mr Right’, strongly believing that the magical wedding, to the magical man, will just make everything, kind of errr …magical?  I craved a Barbie doll house once, (as a child honest) it looked so magical and I felt it would bring my play sessions to life with a spark and sparkle.  That big piece of plastic, sat in the corner, motionless and after half a day, I realised there was nothing too magical about that over rated piece of plastic.

Magical beliefs can really set you up for disappointment, when reality wins the day.  If we are busy chasing happiness, then are we not focusing on believing that our life is not good enough?  Could that fuel feelings of dissatisfaction?

How sad it is to live a life you feel is not good enough, we only get one, we do our best, that is good enough.  Perfect doesn’t exists and it is so unhealthy to strive for it according to the training courses I have attended on anxiety management.

The privilege of breathing is good enough in itself, ask any person with a terminal illness.

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We often crave perfection and all we want people to see, is perfection.  The new age of social media can add to this pressure maybe?  Apparently, perfectionism can be a trigger for anxiety, I imagine it could lead to a lot of dissatisfaction.

Magical beliefs often creep into counselling sessions.  People in abusive relationships may magically believe “with a bit of my magical love, everything will turn just magical”. I do not wish to sound condescending in any way, towards anyone who falls into this type of mind trap.  I write from past experience, so I feel able to express my feelings freely, with confidence that it wasn’t just me that fell victim to such thinking patterns, from my experience it seems rather common.  Magical beliefs are our desire to be feeling good, our focus on ‘ideals’, wishful thinking.  Could magical beliefs give us motivation, and ambition?  Or could they lead to a constant feeling of dissatisfaction?  You will probably hear me mention balance a lot, I am a huge fan of moderation and balance.  Maybe some ideal’s are good to some extent?  Each individual will have their own patterns of magical beliefs, the amount of time investing in these thought patterns, could actually play some part in how you feel in general.

Of course there are many roads to happiness and many roads in the opposite direction, to misery.  Magical beliefs are not solely responsible for people’s happiness or misery; they can play a factor.  What are your magical beliefs?  I gave mine up a while back, although I did recently magically believe I would be able to pick any brand new car I wanted, once I finished paying for my old car.  Nope I am stuck with my little old car, grateful it is still functioning (better than myself some days).  Of course a brand new car would make me very happy, but I can not afford one, so what do I do, get miserable about it?  No of course not and I am sure many would take it on the chin as I am.  Those that wouldn’t take it too well are not going to be moving any closer up the spectrum scales to happiness now would they?

I get the image of a young girl, that was on UK TV back in the late 70’s.  She was rich, spoilt and if she did not get her own way, she would clench her fists, squeeze her eyes shut and cry out “I will scweam and scweam and scweam until I am sick”.  She magically believed that she could get her own way all of the time. Nope. That is not how it is.  We can all relate to wanting our own way and feeling pretty fed up to say the least, if we don’t get what we want.  I remember reading a book by Ken Keyes and he described so well, how we can fall into this kind of mind trap and the best way to deal with it is to switch our demands into preferences.  How simple?  I have used this tool for years and can say that it really does work for me.  I sometimes have to remind myself to use this tool if I am stuck in resentments or negativity, but once I put it to use, the pressure is released pretty much instantly.  So your thinking might be ‘Ok I would prefer such and such to happen, but if it doesn’t I will just have to……….(that is where plan B’s are useful).  Rather than mind traps like ‘This can not happen, this has to be this way, I will not tolerate anything else’.  I felt tense typing that then.  There is a saying about tree’s and how they last so long, because they learn to bend in the wind.  Listen to Ken, try switching those demands into preferences.

So a little introduction to magical beliefs.  They can be at the root of procrastination, lack of responsibility, trauma bonding, unrealistic expectations, the list could go on and on.  If you view the world as magical, then you are at risk of being naive and that could lead to problems also.  You could be living a good happy life right now, but caught up in magical beliefs that when you have this or when you get that, you will be truly happy.  While your head is in the clouds, you could be missing out on some real moments of true happiness.

Focus on what you have got, do not let magical thinking take your focus and dump it in what you haven’t got.  You could be missing out on the birds in the tree’s, the fish in the sea, you know what I mean?

From time to time, you might want to escape into magical belief land, but just be careful not to live your precious life, in a state of mind that just is not real.  Sometimes magical beliefs can be like a kind of coping mechanism, if you are very unhappy and going through difficult times.  That may be when some support may benefit you.  I will be posting links to free support in the UK with my blogs.  There are often lots of internet support groups, for anyone experiencing problems.

The people I know, who seem genuinely happy, get so much pleasure from what they have got and invest their focus, time and attention into just that.  In my eyes, they are the successful ones, not the people who strive for more, believing that the next thing will make it all OK.  The next thing is never enough for some.  Sometimes focusing on external pleasures, can be a way to try to ignore internal conflicts.

I have some experiences to highlight some of these points I am trying to put forward.  That puts me in the dilemma of self disclosure.  If my career was not counselling, I could go on and on about some of my experiences, however I am mindful that possible clients could read these blogs.  So I will try and achieve a balance of being mindful of my profession as I also bring into this what I take into my counselling session, my personality.  I have a lot of experience counselling and it seems to be what works well in session, professionalism and personality.  So I will share these examples.

I was studying at university back in 2000 and my sons were both young.  I had a couple of part time jobs, but finances were tight.  I felt down about this, especially when so many were off on holidays.  I had this idea to buy a small tent, so I did and some camping equipment and put my boys and the equipment in the car.  I sat in the car with a map thinking ‘what the hell am I doing’?  ‘where do I go’?  ‘what if………’?

I stopped myself right there, as I would have unpacked the car and not moved from the front of the house.  So I just drove, blindly.  There was no sat nav phones back then, if there was I never had one.  It was the most scary yet liberating time of my life on many counts.  We ended up in North Wales and set up the tent and it was brilliant.  My boys were excellent at telling horror stories, so I did spend the night waking up terrified that someone was getting into the tent, then another nightmare that it was on fire and melting on us.  Apart from the nightmares, it was total liberation.  The kind of feelings I had were ‘well if I can do that I can do anything’.  My boys and I went on and had many great times on those camping trips.  I made the most of what I had and what I could do and it was more than enough.

There was one trip to Scotland and my boys wanted to hire bikes.  So my oldest son got a nice new bmx style bike.  All there was for my younger son was this tiny old thing, with a satchel on the back, it may have been an antique bike?  It had those tyres that was pure rubber, no air.  My youngest sons face was a picture.  I can’t type for chuckling at his little face when he seen all there was available for him.  I am not sure how we got to the point of him falling in love with the bike, but he did.  On the last day of our camping trip he was riding round the camp, sausages in the back, handing them out to all the campers, with the biggest ‘chuft’ little face.

Chuft: Possibly Mancunian for very pleased?

Anyway he could have sulked all that trip, but he didn’t he ended up really valuing what he had.  I could have easily stayed at home, limited finances, feeling sad about my situation, but I am so glad something made me go out and randomly buy a tent.

I remember someone telling me a story once, about an old man on his death-bed.  He was a very rich and successful man.  He was asked if he was happy with what he had achieved in his life.  His answer was no.  He described how he suddenly realised that the people around his bed were everything.  The time he spent focused on achieving more, took his time away from what really mattered so all he felt dying, was a great loss.

I must add, I have a niece who is very successful in business and ambitious and it was her drive that motivated me to focus more on my counselling career, so it is about balance maybe?

Be wary of magical beliefs, they can take your focus from what is truly magical and available right in front of you.

So try not to focus too much on what you haven’t got, or can’t do, try to focus on what you have got and can do.  Hopefully then, you will be feeling good.

Thoughts and opinions are my own, to offer a general sense of personal development topics.

Angela Neild

Manchester Counselling

http://northmanchestercounselling.com/

For support in the Uk:

http://www.mind.org.uk/

http://www.samaritans.org/

If you feel in crisis, please contact your local Accident and Emergency Service.

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