It’s a brand new year! Have you or your child been feeling discouraged about meeting your new year’s resolutions? Or are you simply feeling a bit stuck? Like you can’t move in the direction you want to go in? Research shows human brains have a negativity bias. Our brains evolved to ensure we seek out potential danger and protect ourselves. This is why we often naturally fall back into a negative mindset. The good news is we can train our brains and cultivate greater awareness of our mental, emotional, and physical states. And this can help free us. Read on for 4 ways you and your child can get set yourselves free.
Think of a time you or your child were looking forward to something big… like receiving an award at school or earning a degree. How much did the actual experience make you happier? When researchers studied this question, they found big experiences like this do not significantly change people’s baseline happiness level. Instead, it’s the small things that make us happy… What’s more, we know that when we focus more on what we are grateful for, we can move in the direction we want to go in with more ease and less effort.
Practice identifying 5-10 small, inconsequential things that you are grateful for. For example: the bird sitting on the tree branch outside your window, the softness of your sweater, the funny way your dog licks his lips. Try doing this at least once or twice per day. You can list them in your head or write them down. Notice how you feel afterwards. Make some time together to practice this as a family and share your gratitude out loud.
Finding Pleasant Sensations in the Body
Often when we are feeling unhappy, our bodies feel tense or uncomfortable and it’s hard to enjoy anything much at all. If this is the case with you or your child, take a moment to identify one small part of your body that feels pleasant. It could be the tips of your ears, the palm of your left hand, etc. Pay attention to how it feels and when the sensation fades, find another body part that feels pleasant… Continue in this manner for a while and then check in to see how you are feeling. This activity will help you and your child learn how to access your own internal resources and shift how you are feeling in the moment. You can teach this activity to your child by making it into a game.
Following Your Interest/Curiosity
Sometimes when we feel stuck or upset, we feel overwhelmed by everything we “should” do. This may make us even more upset and make it hard to get started. In these cases, it may help for you or your child to find one small thing you are actually curious about or interested in and start by doing that. Don’t worry about the other stuff for now. Trust there will be time enough for that. See where your curiosity and passion take you…
When you or your child are feeling discouraged or down, it may help to recognize that part of yourself that wants to feel happy, that wants to be healthy, or that wants to feel peaceful and to open yourself to that possibility. You can do this by silently repeating phrases like this to yourself: “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be peaceful.” These are common phrases used in loving kindness meditation, which has its roots in Buddhism, but may be practiced by anyone. Take a moment to notice how you feel after practicing this.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults, and their families. If you think you would like some extra support, we’re here for you.