I honestly don't know how I got through my twenties and most of my thirties alive and with my sanity intact. It was only after I quit drinking alcohol aged 35 that I finally cottoned onto the fact that inside all of our heads, we are battling an elephant and a magnet. And that I had been fighting my own elephant and magnet unwittingly for my whole adult life, unaware they even existed.
What on earth does this mean, I hear you ask? How can I have a magnet in my head and not even know about it, let alone an elephant rampaging around up there?
I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new when I say we, as humans, are predisposed to a negative bias. We tend to overthink and scrutinise what is going wrong in our lives, what might go wrong in the future, and what has gone wrong in the past. We love to ponder our failings. And while ever we are busy ruminating over such doom and gloom, we are missing all the beautiful, positive stuff that we are experiencing right now - we forget that everything is ok (usually) and subsequently neglect to notice all the many aspects of our world that we have to be grateful for.
This negative bias is the magnet. Imagine a powerful pull inside your minds where your thoughts and perspective are constantly being dragged towards this supercharged allurement, it casting an unhappy filter over all the information that enters your consciousness. Without challenge, the magnet will win the fight every single time. It will cause you to self-doubt, give rise to your mean spirited Inner Critic, and compare you unfavourably to everyone around you.
If we are to win the war against the magnet, we need to practice techniques that promote the opposite - self-compassion, self-care and self-esteem.
And the elephant, stomping around up there in your mind, is the culmination of all the stuff that has ever happened to you; it has absorbed and embellished all of your deepest fears, insecurities, suspicions and limiting beliefs. The elephant is controlling the bad habits and behavioural patterns that cause you distress, regret and anxiety. It is wild and out of control - that is, until you learn to train it.
Training the elephant and battling the will of the magnet mean adopting a mindfulness practice. Observing the way both of these forces hijack events and circumstances, contorting them into unhelpful suggestions, before asking ourselves these simple questions:
How could I reframe this?
What is wrong with right now?
How could I learn from that experience?
Am I absolutely certain that this thought is true?
With this type of inquiry, we are living with mindful awareness. We are observing what is going on in our minds from a distance, as opposed to attaching to it and affording it any credence or authority. It takes practice to develop this kind of innate objectivity of thought, but eventually, with consistency, it becomes second nature. And when that happens, YOU are back in the driving seat of your life instead of being controlled by a magnet and an elephant.
For coaching in training your elephant and fighting your magnet, contact me now.