Manage yourself, not the situation

Everything changes 

The world that we live in is in a constant state of change. Nothing ever stays the same, not the weather, the economy, the stock market or even the form of your favourite football team. No matter how good or bad life seems to be, anything is possible: one thing is for sure, change is inevitable.

In terms of your own personal identity, in other words the ‘ego self’ continues to change and evolve throughout life: the physical body including the brain undergoes structural change over time. We all have identified with belief systems that continue to change and adapt throughout life.

We can’t stop the mind thinking, so the more information that is perceived through the senses  i.e. sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch is gathered and processed by the mind. We are always learning new things whether you realise it or not.

Manage your mindset

The unconscious mind is the part of the mind that runs in the background. The unconscious mind is the ‘mindset’ and runs on autopilot: the minds own operating system. The unconscious mind stores loads of habits that you have learned that run automatically in certain situations. These habits are stored in your memory as shortcuts.

A habit can be good or bad, but when a habit is formed, it can be difficult to break. For example, complaining about people in your mind strengthens negativity and anger. The more you practice this, the more chance it has of becoming a bad habit. The next time the person does something to annoy you, there is even more chance you will react or complain.

If your thinking is self critical or negative, by taking a step back and becoming aware of these negative thoughts,  it is possible to break the pattern of negative thinking. If you react to these negative thoughts, it’s only going to make you feel worse. Complaining and getting angry about people and situations makes the negativity worse.

Below is a simple technique that I use to interrupt a stream of negative thoughts. It doesn’t take long to learn this simple technique and it is a mindfulness skill worth mastering.

Take three deep conscious breaths…..

When I start to notice that my thinking has become progressively more negative, I break the pattern by taking three deep conscious breaths.This is a simple but powerful technique that is effective in bringing you into a more productive state.

Slow down and breathe in, turn your attention to how you feel. Become aware of your chest expanding as you fill your lungs with air. Notice any sensations in the body as you breathe in deeply. Scan your body from head to toe as you slowly breathe out. Continue to scan the body and become aware of any signs of tension. When you breathe out, feel your body gently relaxing and any tension releasing.

I find this is a helpful technique that doesn’t take much time to learn and practice. Learning this simple breathing exercise creates a new habit or skill that with practice allows you to take control of your mind.

The fact that everything changes is a good thing. It means you always have a new opportunity to re-invent yourself, expand, evolve and grow as a person. Practice this exercise regularly to interrupt negative thinking and take back control when faced with the challenges of life.



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David Kennedy


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