“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”
– Maya Angelou

There is a Good Housekeeping version of Christmas- the one that is sold to us in magazines and adverts- where we all have the perfect outfit to wear to parties, the office decorations are superbly stylish, we lovingly close down our computer and glance back into the office with a warm smile as we switch the lights off for one last time this year thinking of all we have achieved, and looking forward to the next one after time spent in the arms of our loving family.

And on Christmas morning we all wake, perfectly coiffured, wearing our matching Fat Face pyjamas as Granny looks on adoringly while the children tear open their creatively wrapped environmentally sustainable gifts with bright shining faces. Right?

Expectations.

If this isn’t how the picture looks  then we might start to go into a downward spiral, feeling dissatisfied and then begin scanning our environment looking for “things I want to be different by this time next year” and “all the things that are wrong and I have to change so that I feel happier/ more successful/ satisfied/ positive about life”.

And down you go in the mood elevator where the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and general dissatisfaction live and where it looks like a really good idea that making changes in your outside world will make you feel better.

How do we stop this malady and resultant possible destruction from happening?

Let’s look at this in a different way.

If you went to the Doctors and told them you were catching every bug that was going around, that you had digestive problems, constantly tired etc he wouldn’t deal with all those symptoms individually he would look upstream and asses your immune system.

Mind set coaching is no different. Problems with anxiety, depression, stress and overwhelm, lack of self-esteem, doubt and fear about the future are symptoms of having a low Psychological Immune system. They are not, as the media would like us to believe, a normal way to be in the modern world. They are the results of a misunderstanding about the mind and based in an outside-in model of life.

So let’s talk about a healthy, strong psychological immune system, what does one look like and what does having one mean.

Ravi Shankar said- “Nothing in the world can bother you as much as your own mind. In fact, others seem to be bothering you, but it’s not others, it is your own mind.”

The first indication I have, when I speak with a new client, to asses the strength of their psychological immune system is, where does it look to them like their feelings and experiences in life are coming from, because…….

  1. A person with a strong psychological immune system knows exactly where their feelings are coming from.

They know that feelings are internally generated and that their outside world is the creation of their own mind that is dependent on how they are seeing it.

To explain- Any event/ person/ circumstance/ even tangled Christmas lights are neutral. If we stay in neutral we can describe a person, a place or an event in black and white factual terms, but then our mind begins to colour this in, and how it looks will depend on our favourite colour. The same Christmas lights that to one person can look calm and blue, to another look provoking and red. How we experience the Christmas lights and the resultant feelings will depend on how we are perceiving them.

To the blue person there is no action to be taken other than get them round the tree. They see what needs to be done and get on with it in an unemotional constructive way and then go about their day.

To the person who often sees things as red there is action to be taken and angry feelings arising. It might look to the red person as if the Christmas lights have caused the feelings and that their anger is as a result of them being tangled. They might moan about them to another person, accuse them of not putting them away properly and let is affect the rest of their day.

But, the anger resulting from tangled Christmas lights isn’t caused by the lights, or who put them away last, because a blue person would just calmly sort the lights out. Same lights, different experience- therefore it cannot be the lights.

  1. A person with a strong psychological immune system knows if they have coloured thinking to just leave it to settle back down of its own accord.

Our minds are like a snow globe. Shake a snow globe and all you can see is the snow, you can’t see the scene. Leave it alone and it will settle back down so you can see the scene again, always, without exception. A person with a healthy psychological immune system knows this and they trust in it happening. They know that coloured thinking is not a signal to take any kind of action or to look for an external cause to blame. They know that all that is happening is that the snow globe has been shaken and they don’t go off looking for reasons to explain why they are feeling like they are feeling because they know that what they are experiencing is thought in the moment.

They know clarity and common sense will return. Nothing to do. No action to take.

  1. A person with a strong psychological immune system knows they are connected to a source of wisdom that is there and always available to us. What I refer to as the intelligence behind life. 

This intelligence beats our heart, it breathes our lungs, it pumps our blood and heals our wounds. When the system is healthy it looks after us and always returns us to a physically healthy state. This same intelligence will always return us to a psychologically healthy state when we leave wisdom to do its thing and don’t interfere with the process.

Now, you may be thinking at this point, how can I not colour my outside world- it is full of challenging experiences, difficult people and upsetting things, I wouldn’t be seeing these colours, having these thoughts and feeling these feelings if it wasn’t like it is- and this is how we have been conditioned to think- that the outside world creates the colours of our emotional ups and downs- AND I am not belittling some of the hugely challenging circumstances that some people have in their lives, but what I am saying that is useful to know is this-

  • Feelings are the results of thoughts. They are the feedback mechanism for what is going on in your mind.
  • When you leave your thinking to settle down solutions/ the way forward and clarity become available.
  • And when we trust in the wisdom behind life our feeling states and emotional turbulence pass more quickly because we leave them alone.

A strong healthy psychological immune system means we have resilience, a more peaceful mind, little irritants don’t bother us, we know if we feel down it is temporary and not a long-term problem and we are better equipped for life.

If any of this resonates with you and you would like to continue the conversation on the understanding of the mind and learn more then please email me on alisonclarke@actioncoach.co.uk, call me on 07713626673 or come over for a coffee on me and let’s have a chat.