A Strangely Effective Trick to Access Past Emotional and Mental Strength
I was on a mental health podcast last night with the venerable Meredith Arthur, and we got to talking about an interesting idea.
She raised the point that once you know how to do meditation and produce the mindset it helps you cultivate, it's something you can always go back to even if you aren't regularly practicing anymore.
In other words, the thought-noticing mindset created by meditation is a mindset that you can return to even if you don't regularly put yourself there day in and day out.
I agreed with her because I've experienced that in my life. I used to meditate every day, but I haven't been the best about doing it lately.
Still, I can remember that mental state and catch my wandering thoughts even if the "meditation muscle" hasn't been trained in a while.
And I realized something even more profound after the conversation I had with Meredith. (This is the bonus video version that came from the podcast recording. Please go check out Meredith's site, Beautiful Voyager as well.)
This is an idea that applies to much more than meditative practice.
It's an idea that can have major implications for your life--IF you go about it in the right way.
Know It Once, Know It Always
I think this concept needs a little explanation. I'm not saying that anything you learn once will be accessible to you in the way that you originally learned it.
Of course, you need to practice skills to hone them and use them in the best way possible. What I am saying is that once you do something once, you intuitively know that you can do it again and access the feeling states the event or action produced. OK, OK, if you could dunk a basketball when you were 20, maybe you're not going to throw one down when you're 50. This idea is more focused on mental frameworks, the ideas and concepts that spark in your mind and ignite growing flames of knowledge.
Think about any difficult experience that you've been through. You may not remember exactly what you did, but you can always access the mental and emotional states that got you through that experience.
My worst experiences produced emotional fortitude that I can always access.
Sure, it's not always the most fun to rehash traumatic events, but those kinds of experiences produced big feelings that allowed me to push myself to greater, more resilient heights.
The same is probably true for you.
Accessing Past Emotional / Mental Strength
What are the moments and situations where you learned what you're capable of?
What are the emotions and mental states you can draw from to apply to your current challenges?
Think about this for a second. Don't breeze by these words.
It's all too common to think that the tough situations you deal with on a day-to-day basis have no comparison, that they are one-and-done frustrations that must be barreled through.
But there's a more intentional way to be. It's possible to slow down, draw from past experiences, and then use the emotions and thoughts from those experiences to inform and empower you through the present and future.
Try this today to access your past mental and emotional strength:
- Fully acknowledge the current situations that trouble you.
- Analyze the situations for what they are. What is most difficult about your current predicament?
- Sit with that understanding for a while. Don't immediately react and try to force your way through the unpleasant events that are closing in on you.
- Allow yourself to remember past experiences that troubled you so much. You got through them, and you learned something from them.
- Specifically focus on the mindsets created by your past trials and tribulations.
- Try on your old mindsets one more time. See if those old mindsets give you the strength and perspective to face your new challenges.
- Rinse and repeat.
You can do this whenever you like. You don't need to be suffering through a major crisis to access your past emotional and mental strength.
What you'll find is that this is more than a simple thought exercise.
Much like my ability to access the mental state produced by meditation so that I can catch my wandering thoughts while they're happening, you can catch the old feeling states that you had when you muscled through difficult experiences.
Once it's captured in your mind, your body will remember where you've been and start to take action.
Use what you've been through then to help with what you're going through now.
Know it once. Know it always.