I’m a big fan of making complicated things easier or nuanced things clearer, I’ve become a big fan of metathinking or thinking about the character and range of my average thoughts. I think we all have an innate sense of if we have been overly negative or angry in our average thoughts, it’s a term that sounds more complicated than I believe it needs to be. Actually everything we answer “how have you been lately?” I would say we respond by giving the answer of how our thinking has been (by metathinking) as we are largely our thoughts.
For a few years I did morning pages as suggested by the author of “The Artist’s Way” Julian Cameron. I enjoyed her book, but didn’t like it as well. She suggested being very rigid about somethings that I don’t think should be rigid. It was a really good book, a class on allowing your inner artist to thrive, yet it didn’t completely suit my process. A very good starting point, but not a complete journey for me. Tons of metathinking though, thinking about what makes us believe we can’t be an artist or do other things. A lot of examination of the prisons we create for ourselves with our own thoughts.
I think it was two years (or was it four?) I wrote morning pages everyday and it helped me deal with all the emotional turmoil of a modern life more than anything has. I have a lot of good things to say about it, but I don’t want to begin something long while I’m attempting to finish another thought…
Someone on the Coach.me community (a free habit making group) marked my comment from five years ago as helpful today and I thought I would share it:
Question: What do you write in your morning pages?
Answer: I write a check in with my seven chakras ie my bodies health (getting sick, eating well, sleeping enough?), my enjoyment of life (am I relaxing and letting myself have fun?), my fiscal health (my physical appearance, career goals, budget…), my heart health (my loved ones relationships with me), my personal voice health (am I standing up for myself without being a bully?), my gut instinct health (do I know what my dreams mean and what my guardian angels tell me is right for me in life) and my spiritual health (for me being a martial arts teacher and improving all aspects of my life). Ex: FIRST 👍 Lost some belly fat. That actually takes a lot off my mind and I come up with cool ideas. I let myself stop writing to implement short ideas like pay phone bill online, or to make a google keep note of something I know I want to reference later that day. I use 750words.com so I can pull up my writing via search it helps me use morning pages to write book segments or just write what I need to do that day or what I feel… Sometimes I write emotions like: Anger Then try to search my heart for any anger. Anger: LA Fitness being hard to cancel online or phone. Then I can look for a deeper meaning… I am really angry about change and wondering if I can afford higher gym costs somewhere else… Then I can make an assertiveness plan, at least try once to get a lower membership price, if it doesn’t work find savings by buying less coffee so the overall budget is still okay. I write any book I want to in my notes too, I just use al caps for the title:
A strange noise woke me up, which is unusual…
Then I can find the bits and piece them together later. I also vent as much negatively as possible, it doesn’t hurt the pages to hear my anger and when I do voice issues to real people the emotions are already diffused. I do a lot of other stuff as well. Everything that can be done via writing. I think it will help my BLOG be less scatter brained, because not everything I think and feel will be on my BLOG now… I can pick out the things that are more relevant.– Myself 5 Years in the Past
Fast forward to 2020 I don’t write morning pages anymore, now I just write articles. It’s not like “I’m too professional”, it’s just that since I have two kids now and they both want time with me individually, plus the typical household duties, my free time is thus that there is only one hour for writing and I would rather write articles that collaborate, investigate, inspire and are inspired by other current writers than I would write something intended to remain private. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I prefer public writing to private writing now…
I had completely forgotten about that check in I used to do, and it began to feel overly difficult to introspect. The category of introspecting became too infinitely full of possibilities as I became overwhelmed with trying to adapt to my daughter being older, which meant hundreds of questions a day instead of no questions and my second child, which was a plate spinning in the air that I didn’t expect would be difficult to juggle (why didn’t I see that coming?). So today when I noticed someone marked my response as helpful on Coach.me I read it again and it was ironically helpful to me again. I never expected that I would be a casual recipient of my own writing vs a beneficiary due to skill building ext. It was amusing and wonderful in a hard to describe way.
So I did the check in I had developed as a morning page prompt, it was in a way the culmination of my Complementary and Alternative Medicine degree a modern view of the chakra system of less exotic and more everyday, a homage to the book “Chakra Care” by Nancy Hausauer.
This was today’s check in, just as an example of one way to do a quick check in, it doesn’t have to be fancy to open the doors of communication between you and you:
Body Health: (getting sick, eating well, sleeping enough?)
A bit sore from the hike, not too much, feels kind of good. Energy is coming back. Slightly stuffy nose.
Enjoyment of life: (am I relaxing and letting myself have fun?)
Kind of rushing when I don’t need to be rushing, pressured to do laundry when I don’t need to be pressured.
Fiscal health (my physical appearance, career goals, budget…)
Still upset I let two more accounts close for non-use since it lowers my credit score, I think things are good, yet I really haven’t kept track of it.
Heart health (my loved ones relationships with me, boundaries working?)
Feel grateful my sister is spending more time with my kids, grateful my husband is helping me form more of a team environment, happy I found Nanny 911, a bit more forgiving of myself, a bit more proud of myself that I can discipline, less guilty I have more time with my son. For some reason drained at the thought of my extended family though, perhaps not comfortable thinking they expect me to entertain them.
Personal voice health (am I standing up for myself without being a bully?)
I still rush a bit in the way I talk to people, it wouldn’t hurt to take the time to make eye contact more, to listen and verify.
Inspiration/Motivation (do I know my dreams and what is right for me?)
I feel like I’m not taking enough breaks yet, I really want to model that so somehow I should find a life hack to make it really work on a normal day at least.
Values/Spiritual health (what’s my role in the larger universe?).
Whether or not being a parent is all I am, I need to get my family life a little bit more under control before biting off anything new.
I’m a huge fan of “Google Keep Notes” the app, it lets you make post it notes digitally that will be available on the computer, tablet, phone and can sync between just you or you and a friend ext.
One of the things I love is something that seems complicated or too hard, will seem so much easier in a Google Keep Note.
The picture is made with Bitmoji free image app, it’s a part of snap chat (I’ve never used snap chat), yet it also stand’s alone. To set up the avatar mobile works better than desktop, but after that it’s very desktop compatible. I’ll probably do another post about bitmoji, I’ve really liked it.
The Google Keep note can be copied, so I can fill one out, date it, and have the original as “a blank worksheet”.
It’s mindfulness, introspection, emotional intelligence, holistic health, metathinking all in a format that can take less than five minutes and there is an option to set a reminder if you were going to form a daily habit of checking in with yourself.
As an introvert, I like to vent to myself more than to my loved ones, so this is a good place to be honest about frustrations and then I know if I need some “Emotional First Aid” from Guy Winch’s “Emotion First Aid” book or some help from Google, you guys (my beloved compatriots of thoughts and wordsmithing), or my family. There is no mental health category, because everything is mental health, mental health is a gestalt sum of the other categories, mind and body don’t divide neatly, nor do relationships with others and the self (neuroscience evidence in “How Emotions Are Made” Lisa Feldman Barrett).
I wish I could convince myself my degree taught me a lot about health, but really the data wasn’t in on neuroscience and well being when I got my degree, it spawned an interest that happened to coincide with the new neuroscience and psychology data being research being made available in an interesting way. I feel like my degree was in a way a promise to begin to understand and today I fulfilled that promise as health came together in my mind.
I’m not saying that I have any new ideas or any revolutionary ideas that no one else has, rather I think I have a grasp of some very simple and old ideas that I was defiantly lacking before.
A child has many more neural connections than an adult, as we age it’s not about “more” it’s about “less”. Like trimming a tree into a topiary of ourselves… it wasn’t that I hadn’t heard about how to stay mentally and physically healthy before, but I had heard too much misinformation, a few intentional lies and some true but wrong for me information.
In this digital age, we need to develop our own filters for the quality of media we uptake, because there is no worthy board of regulation with our interest in mind, there isn’t much at all, but what there is isn’t at a level to really know what is going to empower and inform us as an individual. It would be great if AI can help me find the right material to empower me as a struggling parent, but not shame me, or overwhelm me someday, but as of now it’s on me. As of now it’s on me to unfollow my good friends silly political banter that bothers me even though I love that person dearly still. It’s up to me to protect myself from the dark side of the force of the internet as best I can.
Even though the example in this post is a quick self check in, a written meditation if you will, having the time to explore more about one’s thoughts, emotional health, values, goals ext is a wonderful gift to yourself. Whether it be time to check in with your faith if you have one, your business mission if you have one, your writing projects, your knitting projects, whatever fills your inner cup, it’s something so invaluable, yet so seldom done.
I used to do that in the morning, have a “self leadership” hour from 4-5 AM or 5-6 AM, but now that the kids go to sleep at 9 PM and settle down at 7 or 8 PM there isn’t any reason I can’t do self leadership at night.
It would be great if I did it in the morning making a plan to live by my values, and at night checking what worked and what didn’t (like Elon Musk does). But that’s a bit above my level right now… kind of getting back on the horse right now.
One more thing I would say is self leadership sounds hard and formal, but it’s something that really should belong to every human being. Stephen Covey described it as before rushing to put out a fire, make sure the fire fighter’s ladder is up against the right building. Or before hacking away into the jungle, make sure you are headed the right direction.
There were so many times in my life I felt like I was headed the wrong way, but I ignored that gut feeling by working harder and faster at all the wrong goals… years would go by without anyone questioning where my life was headed (including me).
It can be painful to face the truth, but it’s more painful to have an infected splinter than to remove it and heal. Words can be a road to healing, for a writer, and for a non-writer.
Words turn the invisible world of feelings into tangible form, though subtle and shifty the digital world is tangible, real data stored on a super computer as a code of 0s and 1s somewhere, somewhere a real sequence of electricity on or off, the thoughts take a small, yet physical form, the mental becomes physical, the invisible becomes visible, it’s a large miracle of our species and our world that is also mundane to us now (most of us).
I don’t want to be a broken record, but it’s still beautiful to me that for free, I can write this on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in the summer of 2020 and people can read it across the world and across time. My grandchildren could read it if they chose to and know who I was on a personal level, people I will never know can take away the essence of my entire field of study in about 10 minutes and do that from a great many experts and minds greater than mine. Our consciousness has such capacity to expand with the freedom and ease of information that it’s greatest enemy is perhaps also the amount of information available, it’s wonderful the poorest student with the internet has almost equal access to the world’s knowledge, but we are flooded more than irrigated with information and the information and misinformation are mixed in a slurry without much separation if any.
Going to a science exhibit, Body World, the warning I was surprised to see is that greater than 6 choices causes you physical damage to your health. More than one choice makes you happier, to a point, typically more than 6 choices causes stress to the body, the internet has more than 6 choices of pretty much everything so… as well as being a potential equalizer of knowledge, it is also a Trojan Horse of stress into our lives.
Like with everything, the dose makes the poison. Water can save a thirsty man or drown him, food can sustain you, or kill you, it’s all about the dose, except possibly with love, I can’t remember being too loved, though perhaps it happened to someone else.
Kind of a joke, but honestly, you readers have been completely essential to my journey as a writer. It feels 100% different to write to “the world” vs myself. It has helped me “open my heart” cheesy as that sounds. It’s been amazing to have men and women, older, middle aged, younger, Christian, Muslim, non-religious, American, African, European, Asian, India Ext people take the time to read my words, often offering a lot of encouragement and helpful ideas. I wish I could be as motivated without the help, but it’s not the case, you guys have motivated me to be almost at the end of my 100 post challenge. It’s been constantly empowering to know someone takes their time to read my words when they could be reading or doing so many other things. I find it really significant that there is free thought exchange, though not every post is life changing, so many other ones have been helpful to me and the opportunity to do that for myself and others is just really cool to me, something that I never imagined I would be doing as a child (because it didn’t exist) and it gives me hope I’ll find my place in the world someday and it may be doing something that doesn’t exist right now, but that still suits me and actually lets me be myself as well.
Writers cease to exist without readers, whether themselves or others, it is in the reading that writing exists as physical thought, a thought with just a bit more mass.
E=mc^2 ; Zeitgeist Quanta = (Sum Human Thoughts x The Speed of the Communication) % Misinformation
It’s nice to be sharing a summer’s/fall’s evening with you world. 🌎