Category Archives: self-doubt

That Friday Feeling


Yesterday was one of those days, it was Friday, the end of the week. I got home and it was time to say aaaah.

The weekend had begun.

All those tasks I’ve put off all week because I was too busy working can now be done, or is that a dream. Can I really do all those tasks and at the same time chill out over the weekend, it’s only two days no time at all.

What I’ve noticed that looking forward to Friday spoils the rest of the week, the rest of the week is sort of on hold whilst the clock ticks slowly, ever so slowly until Friday evening; the start of the weekend. Then the clock immediately speeds up to fast forward until the alarm goes off on Monday morning, where did my weekend go, I didn’t have time to get anything done, maybe next weekend.

The cycle begins again and again.

Looking forward to something is a good thing but if this a major thought you have every other thought will suffer, wanting something that is just out of reach is just dreaming.

There is an easy way to sort this out, stop dreaming of something better, you will never get there, it is all in your imagination. Start doing something to achieve your dream.

Sometimes the easiest things to do are the hardest to achieve, you may or will need help.

The first step is to get help, either from yourself or someone else. The help you can give yourself is pausing for moments and reflecting on what you are thinking, if you are dreaming change your thought to something you can see or touch, perhaps your feet contacting with the floor. Examine the contact with the floor, if you are wearing shoes the connection between your feet through your shoes to the floor.

Do you have the potential to move your ankles? Please don’t move them but be intrigued that you have the potential for your ankles to move if and when you have the intention to do so.

You may now be a little more in the moment, your dream is quietly waiting to be the centre of your thoughts again. Your dream may well contain an intention to achieve something, now take the opportunity to get on and do something that will eventually lead you to your dream. Perhaps slow the weekend clock down so you can do all this things you promised yourself.

Your dreams can be with you but not at full volume, turn the volume down and increase the volume of being in the present moment, you may discover your dreams are not to far away, they are with you now in this very moment.

Enjoy life now don’t go looking for it or waiting for it.

 

 

 

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Humans think too much


My last few blogs have been about the here and now and the habits that just love to hold me back from being in the here and now. You could say this is the mindfulness part of Alexander’s discovery, what makes Alexander’s discovery different to mindfulness is his discovery works on the whole psychophysical self; you can’t have one or the other. Splitting ourselves into parts, whatever the parts are, we lose the point of the self.

We are more than the sum of the parts.

What I’ve started to understand is that the less I try to do the better I can do the thing I was trying to do. Letting go of the need to achieve and I can easily achieve what ever it was doing.

When letting go using Alexanders discovery there’s more clarity of purpose, the intention I’ve written about is intense.

Alexanders discovery is about the head, neck and back relationship, how the head leads and the rest of your body follows, it’s as simple as that. Simple for fish, tigers, lions, dogs, cats, hamsters and maybe all other species to achieve naturally but for humans it seems  difficult to grasp.

Humans think too much.

For humans to move freely we need to let go of unnecessary and obstructive thoughts. In many cases it is these unnecessary and obstructive thoughts that give you pain somewhere in your body. Letting go whilst allowing your head lead so that my body can follow is a wonderful calming thought, it contains the mindfulness part ‘letting go’ with Alexanders discovery ‘head body relationship’; the psychophysical self.

Give it a go, gentle rock on your chair if you are sitting, can you notice a change in the quality of movement. Try walking allowing your head to lead. Be safe. Did you notice a quietness and a change in you movement. Perhaps you couldn’t or didn’t want to move because what I asked is so different to your normal habits. Whatever happens, it is observing what has happened psychophysically, observing without judgement.

Somethings are hard to spot by yourself even when watching yourself in a mirror or video, on many occasions it takes the trained observation senses of an Alexander Technique teacher to notice and offer  nonjudgmental observation.

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The crucible of failure


How many crucibles have you been in through your life?

I’ve been in loads, probably more than I can remember!

One of the big ones when I joined the Royal Navy, the UK had a lot of ships then.

I arrived at the new entry training establishment HMS Fisgard, where I started my training to become an artificer. An artificer is someone who can fix anything on a ship; as you may guess that’s a lot of knowledge to know. There were different branches, for weapons, electronics, aircraft, and for me marine engineering. I’m digressing.

We were driven though the main gates to the parade ground, we were all asked to disembark, straight into the crucible, the orders started, get in line, names where called and we put into groups, then the welcome and then off to our mess blocks. My crucible was getting filled with strange orders, new rules, new faces. If they were like me, they were being very brave but scared inside, these thoughts were also added to the crucible. We met our seniors, they had either been in the Navy of a whole 4 or 8 months, they felt so senior, they deserved respect, another thought for the crucible.

After the first scary night sleeping in a room with 30 or 40 others, time for breakfast, I didn’t have a uniform yet and still long hair, ridicule in the dining hall, more for the crucible. Time for a haircut, I liked my long hair, of all the things that changed in those first few weeks, the first haircut was the most shocking, it wasn’t a US Marine cut, it was short but not that short, it was succumbing to someone else’s rules, it felt like an assault on my personality; more for the crucible. Then I had to put a uniform on, more for the crucible.

As you may guess many things were added to my new entry crucible, as with all crucibles the ingredients are heated to extreme temperatures to form something else from the raw ingredients. If it all goes well something uniform will be produced, sometimes it doesn’t work and its discarded. My entry started with 273 young men, after the first year there was only 150 left, the others had decided to leave and pursue another life.

Perhaps another crucible stopped me from quitting, the one that contained the shame and ridicule of failure. I pushed on for 22 years, I was successful in the navy but never felt I really belonged there, that fear of failure crucible just kept me going.

These crucibles that I’m describing are the pivotal points in my life that make me what I am now. If I could revisit them now I guess I would do things differently. In many of these crucibles I did things that I didn’t really want to do, I went with the flow for an easy life so I didn’t get noticed, some never felt right. Unfortunately many need to do things they know are wrong in their societal rules just to survive another day, luckily I have never needed to do anything like that. Hopefully you haven’t either.

I’m now careful what I put in my crucible, in fact I don’t know if I have one at the moment. I guess they just happen without anyone noticing, it’s only on reflection that they can be identified at some pivotal point in your life.

My plan now is to take each moment at a time and be happy to say no if I don’t like or want to do something, be content that I don’t know what is going to happen but have a strong intention to enjoy life, have fun and let the crucible of failure go.

What’s your plan?

 

 

 

 

The power of intention


Someone asked me it if was back on track with my writing, I answered “well, yes and no. I’ll explain later.”

Both yes and no are correct but needed sometime to think.

Yes, I’m back with my writing but no, not the way I used to write, having the need to write for someone else, forcing myself to write. A few months ago you may remember I promised myself to write every day, the promise petered out after a few days, just like New Years resolutions, I set myself an impossible task to achieve with just willpower to be successful, unfortunately willpower will eventually run out of steam.

I was trying too hard to achieve my promise, when trying I lose my authenticity, you may do as well.  Then things don’t feel right, then willpower fades quickly, then followed by the promise.

So what’s different now?

I’ve changed my focus, I write for myself and you are welcomed to read what I write. I’ve eventually started to understand what looking after myself means. It’s being open with myself from a point of safety, observing and reacting to thing in a nonjudgmental way. This point of safety I find myself quiet and content. It’s a point where time and space converge. I know where I am physically and I’m not thinking ahead in time; I’m in the here and now. I’ve mentioned this point of safety in my last two blogs, though I described it in different ways each time.

From my point of safety I can choose to write or not to write, I can choose or not to do anything. That sounds a bit wishy washy, it is; I also need to add some energy to the decision. The energy needs to be authentic and honest, this is the intention I mentioned in my previous blogs. With this intention you can decide to do or not to do but if it’s authentic and honest for that moment it’s the right decision. And you can change your mind if the authenticity or honesty changes. These decision can be as small or as large as you want. Having the intention to travel to work may be a large intention, you choose which road to travel, a smaller intention, but you discover a problem with the road so you pause for a moment and choose another route. Life is a continual list of intentions that continually change thought your life.

Did you ever think years ago you would be doing what you do now?

I didn’t.

I now write because I want to write with the power of intention and I’m happy to pause to allow my thoughts to generate what I write. When I started this blog I only had the intension to write something, I didn’t know what the outcome was and I was content for the content to evolve to what is it is now.

Get writing with freedom.

 

 

 

 

 

Quickly drifting into the past


I’ve really gone off the boil with writing blogs, I’m content with myself so I haven’t anything to say. However I feel the need to write, this will be one of my blogs that I don’t know where it will end, this isn’t so uncommon with my writing. Though it feels different today somehow.

I guess it is just letting things be, I don’t feel like pushing anymore, not trying to please others, just pleasing myself in a gentle sort of way, just being me without my old baggage.   I guess there is still some baggage that I still need to work with but only when if shows itself. I’m not seeking it.

What has changed is the need to sort things out, to try to fix things. Firstly they probably don’t need fixings, I’m was just changing them to suit my purpose, whatever my purpose was. Secondly I was interfering in things that don’t need my interference. I now can let all that energy go and be used elsewhere.

Do things that I want to do instead of trying to please others. This isn’t always true as sometimes it’s easier to be led and do what others want, for the sake of a peaceful life, but bear in mind that it was my conscious choice to be led in the first place.

These changes have manifested from working with my attention and my intension to do something.

My attention is where I am in time and space, I’ve mentioned these thoughts many times in my blogs, suddenly I understand what this really means. The thoughts are beyond verbal instructions, the thoughts are non-verbal, just an image, just a wish. An image of me sitting and writing and conscious of what is around me. Conscious of sitting on my chair, of the keyboard and the screen, my words appearing on the screen.

My intention is to do something, in this case writing using my computer whilst maintaining my attention to myself and my surroundings.

This all sounds quite simple, it is with practice, it’s been a long and torturous route to get here. The need to please others was hidden everywhere on the route, dragging my down blind alleys, tempting me with quick fixes, believing that I could understand accademacally and that would be enough. The practice is to discover I needed to be me and no one else, there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes.

Attention and intention are just first part of this discovery, the second is to understand that these thoughts cannot be held on to, they age off as soon as they are thought. If you hold on to them you are quickly drifting into the past and your present moments will pass you by.

You will be day dreaming.

Thats fine if you want to and there are plenty of times you may want to reflect on the past, however there are times that is it is crucial you are in the present.

I build up my attention and intention and when the thoughts are formed I let them go and start again, my attention may be similar but my intention has moved on. I’m typing  a new word, a sentence or a paragraph. I let go and start again, over and over again. This does sound tiresome, it is in the beginning, practice helps. I experimented with non-verbal thoughts, This is easier as my words didn’t get in the way.

How about practicing with your attention and intention, letting these thought go and starting again, let me know how you get on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When things get tough


Sometimes I feel that things aren’t going my way, something is said, I hear something, I interrupt what I hear in a certain way, it may be put across a certain way to make me feel small, inferior, inadequate.

It hurts for a while and the pain can linger for a long, long time.

These are their views on life, they conflict with my views but it is all they have. Pushing bad vibes onto others can only mean one thing, they aren’t happy with their lives, they feel inadequate, things and people aren’t responding they way they want, so they are forcing their will; they have no right to do this as it is against my will, my beliefs, what I live for.

So what is to be done, simply nothing for them but offer kindness, support and time. For myself move away from feeling small, inferior and inadequate, booze could help for a few hours but those feelings will be even stronger when I wake up.

It’s the old classic, quieten myself down and think of things about the present, become interested in everything I do. Making a pot of tea, writing this blog, the ironing is to come later this morning, make the ironing a game for myself to enjoy.

Being interested in things when feeling inadequate I feel isn’t that authentic, it is just doing a diversion, so how do I bring authenticity to the party?

Authenticity comes with being present, that is in time and space, with an intention to do something, I’ve mentioned time and space in other blogs but I’ll mention it again. For time, I ask myself where is my thinking is, am I fretting about something other than what I intend to do; writing a blog about feeling inadequate. If and when the fretting rises I ask myself is it true in this very moment, I find the answer is always NO.

If it isn’t true then why am I fretting?

I find the fretting disappears and I can get on with writing, I notice some butterflies in my stomach just before doubt appears, I use the butterflies as a trigger to ask this question.

For the space part, this is thoughts about re-establishing my thoughts about head, neck, back relationship, my head gently supported on my neck, this support passes down my spine to the bottom of my pelvis where my sit bones are, I have thoughts that my torso is fully supported on my sit bones and I have loads of space between my sit bones and the top of my head. I used to get a bit rigid at this point of my thinking, I now have thoughts that my torso and head can move gently to and fro or sideways freely as I breathe and type this blog.

Whenever those butterflies rise I repeat my thoughts again, this does get better, honest.

I now have thoughts about my intention whilst being here in this moment and space. My inadequacy has disappeared.

If you need more information, you can drop me a line, or subscribe to my mailing list, its free.

Quiet Dogs


The blues hit me yesterday, some old habits do like to show theirs heads when I’m feeling vulnerable. Is it

  • post holiday blues,
  • going back to work blues,
  • returning to normal blues

Do you have any blues that kick you between the legs when you least expect it?

I find the blues a fuzzy place to be, I want to do loads but I want to do nothing, I’m stuck in limbo land. A sort of fuzzy floaty space that just lingers on and on.

So being a master and expert in noticing these thoughts in myself and others, sometimes my thinking goes awry, it just proves that I’m human. However I do have a back up plan, something that you could use in your blue days!

Pause for a moment to reset yourself, find out where the ground is and where’s the top of your head, now get these two points connected. The getting connected is a thought, I think of space getting bigger between the two points, if you feel any muscles joining in you are thinking and doing, pause again and get connected without any muscular effort, this is achievable but does take some practice.

You may have noticed your blues have quietened down, even without any blues you should notice a change in mood, I sense a quietening, you may notice things get louder.

I was at the vets today with one of my dogs, I helped the vet by holding my dog whilst the vet did the procedure, I’ve done this a few times before, what I’ve found that my dogs really quieten down if I think of space between the top of my head and my feet and today  the clock on the vets wall became very noisy then more I thought about space. The vet did comment on how well behaved my dog was.

An other layer of thought you can apply is to be nonjudgmental about yourself and what is happening locally, being nonjudgmental about politics may be a little too far.

You now may feel a little quieter and the blues may be disappearing.

Now for the bad news, these thoughts you have just developed cannot be kept, they are only valid for a moment, they age off in a moment, if you try to keep them they will trip you up and the blues will return.

They need to be refreshed constantly, this does sound like an onerous task, it is when you first start but it does get easier the more you practice. You will find that you don’t know to do this continuously, only when something is bothering you.

That’s enough for today, there is plenty more in my tool box to help me and you if you wish. You have a few options, you can always search for my blogs and read about my ideas, come to my workshops, and soon you will be able to do my workshops via a webinar. Let me know if you are interested.

 

 

 

Muddy paws on a London bus


I had a very lucid dream last night, it’s still with me this afternoon, without going into too much detail it was about not holding myself back. 

As with many dreams it was surreal reality, real people I know in what could be real situations, oh, with a dog (not a spinger spaniel) with muddy paws on a London bus.

I’m sure I’m like many others, I have a plan to do something then some thought or other pops up, “you can’t do that because ….” then I’m deflated and everything stops, if I’m forced to do something I know I can do well, another though pops up “you’ll get it all wrong” and then I mess it up.

Perhaps that sounds familiar?

Time for an experiment, either think back to one of those times it didn’t go to well or notice the next time you hear your words of doubt. 

Are the thoughts a verbal thought, were you talking to yourself even if the words were silent? Mine are.

Now for the scary bit, what would happen if you asked for these thoughts to be quiet whilst you got on with your task. This is very difficult as I find these thoughts just want to chip in and take control. There is probably a few ways to quieten these thoughts, I find the best way is to go somewhere these thoughts can’t get to. 

Intrigued, read on.

These thoughts thrive when I’m reflecting on the past or worrying about the future, they have free range in my thinking. The place they can’t get to is this very moment in time, I wrote about this place yesterday in the last grain of sand. Yesterday’s blog was how I had a panic in the sauna, panicking comes in many forms, my view on panicking is that it’s overlaying past events with future what ifs to guess what is about to happen.  I may steer the outcome and fail fantastically, failing fantastically was in my verbalised plan but not in my original plan, my deep down plan, this plan was all about success.

Not holding myself back. 

With a bit of practice you may start to notice some muscular tightening, mine is in my stomach, when these negative verbalised thoughts pop up. When I notice them it’s time for action, I observe something without judgement, if words rise I let them go and intensify my intention to observe something, for example, I’m in a hotel reception, there’s specks of dust on the white floor tiles. Just wondering, listening to the hum of busy people, I’m just here without judgment. 

This does take practice, I’d guess, my whole life to truly not hold myself back, so there is no time like now to start.

I’d say practice, practice, practice, but I don’t believe in practicing, just do it or even better be it, be a non judgmental human being.

I don’t know what happened to the dog with muddy paws, I woke up

STOP WORRYING; if it was that easy!


You may think what is the Alexander Technique is and what it is to do with your mental health, from my point of few quite a lot; the Alexander Technique saved me from living  the rest of my life in depression or popping antidepressants to keep me happy.

The Alexander Technique sort of works the opposite direction to other methods in helping you with your pain be it physical or mental. We tend to not worry about what has happened in the past or what is to happen, The Alexander Technique is an educational approach that teaches you how to live your life fully now.

From my experience of mental health, I worry, I’m anxious. Worrying puts me in a place that is in the future, when I’m in the future I have no control of anything as I’m in a place that doesn’t exist, I’m worrying about nothing, I use a lot of energy worrying about nothing.

That can’t be healthy!

There is a premise that every thought produces a muscular action, we can only tighten muscles, worrying is thinking hence I tighten muscles when I worry. Tightened muscles get tired and eventually start to produce pain signals to ask for a rest. Continually worrying uses a lot of energy and eventually a lot of pain. You may start to blame the environment, chairs, beds, shoes, clothes, the food you eat. You may start to blame friends, family, your boss at work.

Take a moment to think; are they doing the worrying, they may be, but they are not doing your worrying, YOU ARE!

There’s a simple answer “STOP WORRYING”. If it was that easy!

I’ve noticed that when I worry I need to think about something, something not about me, something in the future or something in the past but definitely not about now. If I try to think about NOT WORRYING I need to think about something else, probably promising to be better in the future. This doesn’t work it is just more worrying.

It sounds absolutely hopeless, I thought that; back to popping antidepressants. However if you just could be in the moment then worry disappears, it’s true, there’s plenty of mindfulness practices that can do that. However the Alexander Technique has the edge on mindfulness, it is mindfulness in activity; knowing where you are in time and space as you engage with your daily activities.

You can teach yourself mindfulness in activity but we have a very good knack of not seeing how we move in activity, just try looking in a mirror and if you are like I was, you will do plenty of avoidance and that’s just looking at your face. This is where you need a nonjudgmental teacher to encourage you to observe yourself without judgement; it takes time but worth it.

It all goes back to those muscles you tightened when you worried, they learnt to stay in tension, if you just engaged in mindfulness it would some time take time for these muscles to release their tension, release their pain. With the Alexander Technique your muscular tension you developed over time, can be released by encouraging you to think differently, thinking the way you used to when you were a child, thinking that allows easy and freedom so you can do the activities you want to.

It worked for me, I have written a lot about muscular tension, all tension is related; by releasing muscular tension worry and anxiety disappear. It they reappear I’ve got the tools to let my anxiety quieten and disappear.

The opposite direction I mentioned earlier is to approach the muscular reaction to a stimulus instead of working on the stimulus to minimise the muscular reaction.

Intrigued, then why not contact me for more details.

 

 

 

Grumpy, miserable and sad


There’s plenty of words that describe people with mental health issues, I was going to write some but I’m not, as they are generally defamatory and demeaning. You also have your own list.

I’m really pleased that the Heads Together charity is the lead charity for this week’s London Marathon. It’s about time mental health is accepted and spoke about in public, I have a view that we all suffer from bouts of mental health issues, some are like a runny nose, some like flu and in some cases like pneumonia. My assumption is that we have all had the runny nose version and the runny nose can last for years and years. We just live with it because it feels normal.

I’ll let you into a secret, once upon a time I thought grumpy, miserable and sad was normal.

I was wrong, if you feel like that then you are also wrong.

My normal now is being happy (I do sometimes do get the runny nose but I have tools for me to return to happy).

Happy is a great place to be, I learnt this skill to be happy instead of learning the skill to being grumpy, miserable and sad.

Why is it so easy to be grumpy, miserable and sad? My answer is that where others want you to be because they don’t have the secret of not being grumpy, miserable and sad. The lowest common denominator is grumpy, miserable and sad.

I guess you want to know what tools I use to be happy, if you have read any of my blogs you probably know.

I’ve trained to teach the Alexander Technique, (a lot of hours over 4 years) you may already have heard about this, posture and reducing lower back pain may come to mind. It sort of is but the Alexander Technique is so much more, posture and reducing pain are just the sideshows that people can see, measure and brag about. What the technique is about is to change how you think during your everyday activities. If you are a stressed Eric as I was, full of anxiety, I was so anxious I couldn’t breathe without an inhaler, the inhaler ruled my life, ooh, I hated those years.

Learning to identify my anxious responses to everyday stimulus was the first step and then doing some different, even if the different thing was to do nothing, things started to change, I became less dependent in my inhaler. It took a long time, I’m inhaler free now.

The Alexander technique is many things to many people, it reduces physical pain, it reduces mental pain, I see anxiety as mental pain. It’s all this but what I understand the Alexander Technique to be is training on how to love yourself. If you love yourself from a safe authentic space then you can love others. Judgement of yourself dissipates as does judgement of others. Mindfulness is fine but mindfulness in activity is the key to this love and happiness; this is what the Alexander Technique is. My training as a teacher has taught me how to notice others and offer techniques and ideas to others, many of these ideas are indirect, this is an important aspect of the training as it helps you to notice your habits from a safe indirect perspective. Observing yourself, as I have written before it the first step.

If you are intrigued or want to get rid of your grumpiness give me a call.