How to STOP! SWAP-THOUGHTS through the crisis

20. January 2021

I have long wanted to write this blog post, but something has held me back. My own inner voice whispering, “You can’t write about how to deal with change and uncertainty when you don’t handle it very well yourself in this time”.

My “inner voice”, which can also be called involuntary thoughts, is right in one thing: at the moment I am extremely challenged by the isolation that the Corona situation has thrown us into. I experience daily sadness and a feeling of melancholy of all the alone time. Maybe you can recognize these feelings yourself?

But that I can’t write about this even though I am challenged is a lie that my mind is trying to force me to believe. I can write about this precisely because I live every day with the uncertain and the unknown. I am slowly losing my sight and my life is a constant habituation to the changing.

RESISTANCE

Often when we encounter change and uncertainty, we make it an enemy. We problematize it. “This should not happen! Why is it happening now? I can’t stand it! I just want it to be as it used to!”

Most of our discomfort for the unknown stems from the resistance we create to it in the mind. We are creating resistance to what IS – right now. And when we fight against what IS right now, we suffer. The more we try to escape from our unwanted and unpleasant experiences in our lives, the stronger a negative impact these experiences will have on us, for what we try to resist will persist.

When we finally surrender to the reality that is emerging in this moment, instead of fighting against it, there’s energy to accept the situation, and then we can consciously decide how we can best deal with it. Right now, and here.

Resisting something also requires energy, and that loss of energy is stress. Resistance is the loss of energy that occurs when we try, with our thoughts and feelings, to change a person, event or circumstance. The amount of stress in our lives is determined by how much energy we spend on resisting life. The more we resist our circumstances, the more stress we bring into our lives.

To put it simply: if we resist what we experience, our lives will be filled with stress.
You can’t accept the isolation – STRESS.
You can’t accept that you are not allowed to meet friends – STRESS.
You can’t accept that for a period of time you don’t have your personal freedom – STRESS You can’t accept your job situation – STRESS.
You can’t accept that you can’t accept – STRESS.

When nothing we experience can be accepted, just as it is, all life becomes a struggle. Stress is a sign that we are trying to resist what is. When we fight what we experience, we fight the present moment. When we fight the present moment, we fight life. When we fight life, we create stress.

To stop the resistance to life, we must instead try to accept the resistance and accept life as it is. Accept the Now as if we have chosen it ourselves. Okay – that sounds like a pretty impossible mental task or what? I bet you are thinking that right now but let me explain how this can be done.

When you DISCOVER and ACCEPT that you are in a situation that brings discomfort right now, you create a void between the uncomfortable situation and your ability to make a conscious decision that can change your next NOW. You free yourself from STRESS by accepting that things are as they are, but that you can make a conscious decision about how you will now move on from this NOW. You don’t have to like the situation you are in, but you also don’t have to condemn it. You don’t have to make it your enemy. It just IS and you just observe it without judging it.

Right now, the situation IS that we all need to isolate ourselves and change our habits and routines. It feels wrong and we get angry, frustrated and we feel affected by the involuntary changes. In my book Sentenced to Blindness – Now What? I share a little mental play that can help you become aware of these unconscious mental processes that can ultimately lead to stress, sadness and discomfort.

The mental game is called the STOP! SWAP-THOUGHT game.

It goes like this: Every time you become aware that you are complaining in your mind about the situation you are in, you say out loud (or think out loud), STOP! SWAP-THOUGHT! Next, you give yourself a huge mental hug for having discovered that you are complaining about (resisting) a situation that you can either do something about or can’t do anything about. There is no reason for the inner struggle.

Then you count to five, and decide to see the whole situation from a different perspective. Eg

  1. “I hate that Coronavirus prevents med from being able to live the way I want to.”
  2. STOP! SWAP-THOUGHT (OBSERVE and draw all your attention back to the body and feel that it is alive and vibrating with life).
  3. Now you then discover that the inner fight against Coronavirus in your mind, gives you more suffering than liberation. Coronavirus is a reality right now, and you might as well accept it – right now. What is happening – right now – is happening whether you get angry or not. You now find peace in the acceptance of what IS right now. (ACCEPT). You don’t have to make it your enemy. You smile at it like you would if an unannounced guest knocks on your door.
  4. Now you have created the space between your automatic reaction, which could be anger, and the way you can NOW decide to react to the situation.
  5. 1-2-3-4-5
  6. “Coronavirus has given me a lot more time with my family, and I have discovered that there is so much in my life that I have taken for granted when I had them. Time with friends, time in the gym, spending time at cafes, time with colleagues, etc. “. (CHANGE THOUGHT).

Now comes GRATITUDE. This whole process has changed anger from an involuntary situation to becoming a heartwarming sense of gratitude that Coronavirus has been an eye opener for what I once forgot to value in life.

By discovering and accepting what is, we can transform it into learnings and wisdom in life. This is what I call Mindfulness In Action! I practice this all the time. I know I’m slowly going blind and that I can’t change it. But I can accept it! If I resist it, it will turn into even more sadness and even more loss of zest for life.

I use all experiences that I first find terrible, tiring and annoying as springboards and opportunities to discover how these experiences can turn into precious wisdom. In this way, we can transform the involuntary, the changeable, and the uncertain into events of being grateful for. This is the secret behind learning yourself to SEE POSSIBILITIES IN LIMITATIONS.

To learn more about how I changed my view of losing my sight, from being horrible, to being a life partner that I learn from, read my story in the book Sentenced to Blindness – Now What? A Journey from Hopelessness Street to Possibility Road. You can get the book here in Denmark from my website, and from abroad on Amazon.

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