Climate Change? I Don’t Believe it…

2ideas

 

I’ve been fortunate over the last 6 months or so to have the opportunity to study with Michael Yapko  Ph.D.

Dr. Yapko is arguably the world’s foremost expert on hypnosis. He has made it his life’s work to uncover all there is to know about hypnosis and how it works. He has written the textbooks on teaching hypnosis and authored many other books.

Despite all of this, he is the first to tell you that the more he comes to discover about hypnosis, the more he realises how little he actually knows…It is a journey without an end point. Along the way he has had to constantly change his thinking in light of new evidence and scientific findings.

Hypnosis is an incredibly powerful tool. It allows people to make profound and lasting change. But the truth is, we are still a way off from understanding how hypnosis actually “works.”

It has been a challenging, enlightening and sometimes difficult experience of being thrown headfirst into a course as demanding as Yapko’s, especially when it has meant that a lot of ideas and facts that I held to be “true” have been turned upside down and inside out. (Some days my head feels like someone has taken an egg-beater to my brain!)

Some of my long-held beliefs have had to be tossed in the rubbish. Some things that I had been taught in the past were “100% fact” (and had passed onto others in good faith!) are simply untrue. Other old beliefs had to be mulled over for a period of time before I finally conceded that they too may be wrong…

(Then there are a few points we will agree to disagree on…and that’s okay too!!)

As I was reviewing some notes today and realising how much some of my “truths” have changed, I thought about how important it is to have flexibility in thinking. How important it is to be able to change your thinking in light of new information or new ways of seeing things- and of how so many of us are unable or unwilling to do so.

Sometimes we get so caught up with what we “believe” that it actually begins to become part of our identity, part of who we are. Sometimes our beliefs become so important to us that we cannot tolerate the thought of anyone not agreeing with us, of not “thinking like we do”. People who have views that do not match our own become threatening to us. We become more determined to hold onto our “truths”, to defend them and to keep them close.

It reminded me of a presentation I went to on climate change about 12 months ago. In our small group there were those who believed, those who disbelieved and those who were neutral on whether climate change existed as a phenomenon. Some held very strong views.

The professor who presented did not tell us at any stage what he believed but some had “guessed” and were already either resistant or supportive of him before we began! The professor simply shared information with us- some information took us in one direction, some in the other. We were able to ask questions, to clarify data and to discuss as a group. Each of us weighed up every piece of evidence for and against. One person however offered the same mantra which grew more and more strident and peturbed: “Well, I don’t believe in climate change and I never will!” By the end of the talk this person reminded me of a small child with their hands over their ears shouting “No, no I don’t want to hear that it’s my bedtime!!”

They identified as a “Climate Change Denier” and they were going to hold onto that no matter what. It was important to them.

When our group met a few months later each of us had experienced some sort of personal change in what we thought, what we saw happening and how we acted in relation to climate. We still all held different beliefs, although they were now not so far apart and they were all continually changing as each of us considered new evidence. The exercise had opened our minds. Even though we still had differing beliefs, all were open to the possibility of our viewpoints continuing to change in light of new information. Our “Climate Change Thinking” had become flexible.

All except one who was proud to announce “Well, I don’t believe in climate change and I never will!”

And in that, of course, they are 100% right.. :)

Tips For Avoiding Overwhelm

can't do, can do

can’t do, can do

Right, back to the topic of overwhelm and what you can do to manage it.(Coping with Overwhelm-Controlling the Uncontrollable) 

How can you care about the world around you, be involved and productive and make a difference, yet still live and function? How do you cope with dealing with the paradox of it all? Of being happy in a world where bad things happen? Of keeping moving when it all seems too much? Of feeling that what you do or say doesn’t really make a difference in the bigger scheme of things?

Well, I have a few strategies that work well for me. Hopefully there might be something here are you too…

Tips For Avoiding Overwhelm

1. Turn off the TV/Phone/Laptop

We live in a world of information-too much (negatively-biased) information. We are bombarded by it all day long. No wonder we get stressed and overloaded. Of course, when it comes to the media there is no drama in providing good news, so most of the news we see is bad. That contributes to a feeling of hopelessness. We become overloaded with bad stuff.

So, turn off the TV or, at least, turn off the news. Skip reading the papers- buy a personal interest magazine instead. Read a good book or listen to music. It’s amazing the difference it makes. Try it for a week and you’ll see what I mean…

2. Take your “Important List” and make it as tangible as possible.

E.g. it is not physically possible for me to be saving the rainforest in Borneo (after all, someone has to stay home and feed the dog!) but I can plant trees for my local Bush Care group and I can pick up rubbish off the beach each week or volunteer at the Animal Rescue Centre.

Then choose a couple of bigger picture “causes” that you feel passionate about (e.g. Save the Whales or Cancer Research-something that has meaning for you ) and support those with donations/ e-mail campaigns etc., knowing that there are other people as dedicated and passionate as you out there supporting the other things you care about. Trust that they have it covered…

3. Break it down into baby steps.

Overwhelm makes us powerless to act and keeps us stuck in our thinking. Sometimes the issue seems so big that we don’t know where to start. That’s when we need to bring our attention right in and focus on one specific thing. “My life is a mess!” So, decide to start by sweeping the kitchen floor… then do the dishes…Or write one letter, or pay one bill or clean one cupboard…Focus on the things you can do rather than on what you can’t.

Just make it one simple thing at a time, which leads us to…

4. Take Action, Keep Moving, Start!

Override your head (which is busy telling you all the reasons why it can’t happen/ won’t happen/ won’t matter if you do/ is not worth the effort) and simply stand up and do one thing! Quite often this unblocks the flow. One of the biggest problems we have is our inability to get off our bum and actually start to do something. (Knowing vs. Doing)

5. Yes or No?

Sometimes it’s the little things that tip us over the edge and into overwhelm. Say no to anything that depletes you, overloads you (or makes you silently groan inside!)

On the other hand, say yes to anything that lightens you, empowers you or allows you to grow.

6. Be realistic, gentle and focus on the good things.

Care for others starts with you. Nurture yourself and be realistic in your own expectations of yourself. It’s not your job or my job to save the world but, if we all focus on our little bit, it’s a job we can do together. Imagine what we could accomplish if each of us was willing to just do a tiny part…

Search out the good news stories of others who make a difference. There are plenty of websites/blogs/forums/facebook sites dedicated to those who make a difference, each in their own way. Join them and fill your mind with good news. It starts to change how you see the world. Read inspirational biographies or watch “feel-good” movies.

Remember to take good care of yourself- (We need people like you!) Good self-care has a huge impact on our ability to cope and to thrive.

Hope these are helpful for you and love to hear some ways that you deal with overwhelm!

Telene

Coping With Overwhelm- Controlling the Uncontrollable

journey 1000miles

In the last month or so I have repeatedly heard people speaking about being overwhelmed – (by life, the universe and everything….) Not just people in my community but people interstate and overseas – from friends and colleagues to strangers I’ve chatted to in airports and coffee shops. It’s a theme that keeps reappearing….. Possibly because I’ve been feeling a bit the same way! (Funny how that happens don’t you think….:)

Recently I wrote about putting aside the urgent things and focusing on the important things. (Urgent vs.Important) If you look at my list from then you’ll notice that all of the things on there are well within my control – I can do them all quite simply if I so choose. (Even though I may make excuses about why I “can’t”!)

Important Things: (My list)

Doing things I love like:

  • Hanging out with my family and friends
  • Spending time in my garden and growing my own food
  • Creating stuff
  • Writing every day
  • Laughing ‘til it hurts- often
  • Learning new things- investing in me
  • Being outdoors- fresh air and exercise
  • Camping and going bush

But what happens if those important things, those things that really matter to you, are big things that are out of your control?

If my list contained things like:

  • world peace
  • protecting my community from mining
  • stopping unsustainable fishing practices
  • preventing animal cruelty
  • eliminating child abuse…

Phew. Different sort of list, different sort of feeling…One list makes me feel good….and one doesn’t.

Now, all of these things on the second list are important to me but if they were the things I focused on in my personal “important things” list, then I am immediately in trouble. My feeling when looking at my list is one of overwhelm and powerlessness. These are all issues that I can definitely have an input into, but in the big scheme of things they are, in all probability, pretty much out of my personal control.

When our attention moves from those tangible things we can directly influence to the big picture issues (and there are more and more of them each day) one of the dangers for us is that we can become swamped with the crush of overwhelm and we are stopped in our tracks. Overwhelm robs us of our momentum, our motivation and our resilience. It robs us of the ability to function in a way that serves us well. Overwhelm is the lead weight that sits on your shoulders or the helpless feeling that makes you want to retreat to the Bat Cave and pull the covers over your head… Overwhelm can contribute to anxiety and depression-both of which seem to be out of control in modern society.

Two other side-effects of overwhelm are ignorance and apathy-the inability or reluctance to “see” and the unwillingness to take action-and, if you check out the world around you, you will notice that it has become an all-pervasive issue. We live in a world of “It’s all just too hard…..pass me the bottle/smoke/pills/remote/chocolate ice cream…”

Now, I’ll admit, having a global or “big picture” preference in my thinking style, overwhelm and the feeling of hopelessness that accompanies it, are something I have encountered. (The more abstract and generalised thinking becomes the harder it becomes to take action- ie: lots of “thinking” taking place and not so much “doing”! :)).

Also, if you care about people and issues, if you have compassion and empathy, a desire to do good, to save, help and assist the world and its inhabitants (and I hope that is most of us to some degree) then you’re pretty much a sitting duck when it comes to overwhelm. You look around and see so much that is broken, so much that doesn’t seem to be working effectively, so much that needs to be fixed-that you don’t know where to start, so you don’t.…

So, what can you do about it?

In my next post I will share some of the strategies that work well for me and for some of the people I have worked with.

Telene