Life’s a Be Eye Tee Cee . . . – The 5 Phases of the Suffering Mind

#BPGrumpyKid photo by CoreyAnn working with conflict, sadness, replaying the past, roommates, suffering, observation, mindfulness, mindful fitness, mindfitmove, mindfulness based fitness,So, I’m moving out of my house. It’s all for the best. And I’m actually happy I don’t have to stick around for an awkward month of 30 day noticing. Nothing is worse than having or being a lame duck roommate.

Still I feel defeated, rejected, and sad. It’s funny, because I know I did as best as could be expected. I communicated clearly and calmly 90% of the time. I was diligent in meeting others’ requests. I tried to get along and connect.

Negative GhostRider
But it didn’t work out. And even though part of me knows, that it isn’t my fault. Another part of me feels like King Poo of Poo Mountain

Situations like this are hard because the mind is a blame-placing machine. And in absence of resentment, our minds tend towards depression and subtle senses of self-loathing. It’s hard to see a way forward.

The key is to observe what your mind is doing without judgment. Just this observation alone can reveal what you need. Often the observation itself is a great source of healing.

I engaged in this practice of observation over the past few days. And here are 5 phases I notices my own mind go through during this time.

Phase 1: Total Recall
In this phase, you replay all the key interactions with the person or group of people you’re in conflict with. In each replay, you recast yourself as the diplomat or the sassy bitch.

Though each replay is compelling, nothing changes except your mood and your ability to let the interaction go. You can’t change the past.

Phase 2: Indecision
The mind seeks for a solution to the conflict. It charts how various approaches might play out. You contemplate deep heart felt confessions, strong confrontations, or manipulative subterfuge.

Then you find yourself standing at the top of stairs listening to see if your roommates are in the kitchen. Or maybe staring at a phone trying to decide whether or not to hit send.

No matter what choice you make you will never know whether it’s the right one.
It’s terrifying and you start to realize there might not be a perfect solution after all.

Phase 3: Distraction, Reaction, and Compaction
In this phase, you avoid your feelings by any means possible. This phase is ripe with the seeking of pleasure or sloth.

It involves excessive TV watching, the seeking of sexual satisfaction, engagement in meaningless and repetitive activity, and a dispersed sense of generalized dissatisfaction.

This usually arises because you are unwilling to feel the depth of whatever emotion is arising. On some level, you know you have to deal with what you’re feeling. But on another level, you’re not yet ready.

Phase 4: Sadness, Loneliness, and Dramatic Disenchantment with All Human Existence.
The words that run through your mind are confusing and unconnected. In this stage, you feel a dull ache in your stomach and a hole in the center of your heart. This is a deep and transcendent feeling.

You feel the tension between your deep faith in humanity and the current state of affairs.
You fear you will feel like this forever.

Phase 5: Remission
During this phase, the strength of your feelings and emotions mostly vanish. It may result from absorption in a compelling activity, the presence of someone you feel safe around, or the opening of a new possibility.

The challenge of this state is the mind wants to believe there is nothing left to process and deal with. But often the heart has more to feel even when the mind has moved on.

So, while this phase may be pleasant, it’s important to not try to hold onto it.

The Salvation of Observation
Now here’s the hard part. Other than noticing these states there is nothing else you need to do. As these states shift and change the main practice is to notice and accept.

We watch each state to arise, exist for some time, and then allow it to disappear. Just the act and willingness to observe has amazing healing powers.

Even though I am still caught in this cycle myself, I know my ability to observe my own heart/mind has helped me work through these feelings.

I don’t think it’s going to repair my relationships or be the solution to all my problems. But it will teach me more about myself and what it means to be human.

My hope is that I can use this knowledge to connect, heal, and support others. I believe that even suffering endured with proper attention and intention; can serve my heart and the hearts of others.

How do you deal with setbacks in your life?
Let me know by commenting below.


Why Nobody Likes You – 4 Steps to Deal with Their Opinions

What People Are Really Thinking About You - 5 Steps to Deal with Projections and Stories, stories, rejection, mistakes, dealing with others, drama, group dynamics, communication, requests, authenticity, integrity, roommates, roommate fightsI recently moved into a new place and I set about doing my best to become part of the community.

Except it seemed like I kept making mistakes. I was supposed to clean this in a certain way. I wasn’t supposed to pick that from the garden. I didn’t ask the right person about whether or not I could use this. The list goes on and on.

Mistakes Were Made
I was doing my best to be mindful, but when you’re new, you make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes are met with understanding, sometimes they’re met with irritation.

It’s not so much a factor of how nice the people are or how clear the guidelines may be. The real key is the assumptions other people make about what’s going on in your mind.

You will make an error and someone will begin to say something. As they speak you realize they have already formed an opinion about who you are and why you are doing this.

Story Time
I have seen in the eyes of others dialogues about me being selfish. Stories about me being dirty and thoughtless. Stories of my malice, my rudeness, and my general disregard for others. It matters little whether their assessments are true. The mind seeks to rationalize others actions.

I do this just as much. There are times I make up stories about the stories they must be telling. I have projected many ideas onto other people.

But it’s always hard to know what to do about it. Arguing with others’ stories is useless unless there is trust. And very often, there isn’t.

So, what do your do when you confront others strong opinions about who you are?

1. Listen the Best You Can.
People want to be heard more than anything else. Even if they have a story about you, it’s best to just listen. Try to hear what they are saying without objecting internally or externally.

2. Reflect Without Ownership
Reflect their perspective using phrases like these: “So you imagined when I did …” and “From your perspective that meant…” Don’t take on blame or guilt, but reflect their perspective. Until we feel heard by someone else, it’s hard to be open to another way of seeing. Arguing with their stories really won’t help.

3. Don’t Own the Story Internally or Externally
I want to reiterate, DON’T OWN THE STORY. It’s their story, know that it isn’t true. One perspective is rarely true.

Only if the person is a trusted advisor should you hold their perspective with a lot of weight. We rarely see ourselves with clarity and are even less clear in seeing others. Because everything is filtered through our own lens.

4. Ask Them to Make a Specific Doable Request
Once you feel like you have heard their story or complaint ask them to make a specific doable request.

Unsure what that is? A specific doable request is something you could film on an iPhone before the battery dies. For example, you would be willing to take out the trash tomorrow or help with the dishes tonight.

Avoid vague requests such as, ‘Can you clean better?’ Or, ‘Can you communicate more?’

These are common requests but they have no back end and no way to know if you’re doing them. Without specific parameters, you will never know if you have completed the request.

The request also can’t be a demand or an ultimatum. If the request comes in the form of, do this or else, it’s a demand. The ‘or else’ may be implied or very blatant in either case it isn’t a good faith request.

If it’s a demand, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can try to change it into a request but it may not work. Usually demands stay demands, and in either case the next step is …

4. Are You Willing to Do it?
Are you are willing to meet their request from a place of authenticity and integrity? Submitting to someone else’s desires won’t work over the long haul. If you can honor the request in good faith, great!

Clarify what they are asking and let them know you’d be happy to do it. If you aren’t then say so or excuse your self from the situation and perhaps the relationship.

Relationships are built on trust and safety. If you don’t feel safe, then the relationship won’t work.

Be polite and firm. Offer negotiation if you are willing to negotiate, but life is too short to give up yourself to others.

No relationship is worth sacrificing who you are as a person. Harmony is just as important as respecting your own boundaries.

MindFitMove Practice
What is one area of your life where you struggle to create and maintain boundaries?
Come up with 2-3 strategies to start creating boundaries in that part of your life.
Practice saying No in a kind gentle way to things you only do out of obligation.
Practice saying Yes to your life, your values, and your own authentic self.