By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
It’s a new year and we should all be thinking about self-reflection and making changes as we grow. Again, not necessarily just because it is the New Year but because we need to sit down, reflect and self-develop on a continuous and consistent bases. Usually people will pressure themselves with new major resolutions and potentially unrealistic or drastic changes they want to achieve in the year, but remember, baby steps are the key. I touched upon this in my previous article about the New Year and making goals, but it is only the third week of the year and so many people are already putting themselves down and feeling the pressure. What’s all this constant negativity I keep hearing? Stop, breathe and think about it for a second. If you are guilty of being negative, take a second to self-reflect, get down to it and figure out what you actually really need and/or want to do.
A few months ago I realised that I was getting more anxious and nervous than my usual self. I noticed that I would feel panicked when I thought of all the things I had to accomplish and of all the stuff going on in my life, so I decided I needed to get to the bottom of it all. I did something I always wanted to do but always feared and took a pen, blank piece of paper and started to write down my areas of daily worries. My one to two word notes turned out to be a map of my mind and all the things that I kept thinking about, and I started seeing the general themes of unaccomplished tasks and areas of personal confusion that were taking over my daily thoughts. I began noticing the main sources of my restlessness. I finally started to figure out the areas in my life I needed to develop, complete, change and possibly remove. By the time I was done, my map looked like a bunch of bubbles interconnected that filled up the whole page, but it was not as horrible as I expected. I finished within a few minutes although I thought it would take longer. I even doubted how quick I finished that I kept asking myself if I was missing anything. Only after seeing my thoughts on paper in the format of a bubble brainstorming map did I actually take a long breath and said Alhamdlilah (Thank God in Arabic). In that moment, I was able to visually comprehend that most of my concerns were not life-threatening and just realising that made me understand that I am the one making my situation worse, that I am in control of most of the matters identified and it is up to me to make the changes to see and feel the changes I wanted and needed. This quick exercise of mind mapping really helped me put things into perspective and it was as easy as a few minutes alone with a pen and paper. Yes, there are a few unknowns and potential risks and worries still lingering in my thoughts, but still, at least now I know I was magnifying the restlessness by thinking and worrying about them so much that it would take over my thoughts and overwhelm me to the point where I would take no action. Then and there I started crossing out two of the areas of concern because they were not in my hands and understood that I had to just hope and pray for the best. Then, I continued to write down the action points I needed to take in each of the remaining areas. After seeing all the actions I needed to take, I was able to be real with myself and figure out the quick wins, the areas I could deal with initially and then went on to prioritise the other areas from most important to me to least important. The final and extra step to this exercise was me understanding which actions I could do on my own and which actions I needed to seek advice or help in. This is critical. You have to be realistic and accept that you will need help with certain areas and that it is never a bad idea to ask for help.
In conclusion, this simple act of self-reflection had a major effect on me and I am currently looking back at the list and dealing with my challenges, but at my own pace because I know and believe I am in control and that I am responsible for my anxiety. I am accountable, therefore responsible. You are accountable, therefore responsible too. When you finally hold yourself accountable, you can make those changes and hold only yourself responsible to be or not to be your best. So listen up everyone and listen good, you are the most important person in your life and if you are feeling the pressure, only you can decide to reduce that pressure. Don’t push and slow yourself down with unrealistic goals, unnecessary changes or more anxiety, instead, organise your thoughts and try to figure out the sources of your unhappiness, dissatisfaction or restlessness and get those changes going!
The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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