Let's try breaking the shackles
I think a lot of us are trapped inside our mental prison. And it comes to different degrees of extreme when it comes to a mental prison. Perhaps we have some toxic habits that in fact trap us in our own mental prison. Most of us appear to be enjoying a secure life but still we are shackled internally. And these shackles are emotional or psychological. Such shackles are often reinforced by our habits or patterns that we develop throughout our life. We don't even know these patterns we become so used to, make us self-captured sometimes. Unfortunately, through these habits, we continue to keep ourselves emotionally and psychologically restrained and these habits contribute to destructive behaviour or mental activity that traps us inside our mental prison.
We often believe we are also a result of what happens to us. Our lives are simply a reaction to the events that happen in our lives. We also think we are victims of the events that occur in our lives. But the truth is just a very small part of where we stand today is concerned with what happens to us. So it all actually depends on us that how we respond to what happens to us. Let me clarify what I meant by this.
Ultimately there are a few things which decide where we end up or how we end up. The first thing is to reflect on what we want in the given moment. There are always both difficulties and eases at the same time at any given moment. If we think deeply, there is never something completely bad or absolutely good, it's always in between. To elaborate, life is a bundle of ups and downs. If we believe that our existence in this world is like a track in the rail row, the tracks in the rail row are parallel and are next to each other. So, on the one hand, we have good things and ease in life, and on the other hand, there are problems or challenges. Yet they are still close to each other like a rail row track. Therefore it is nothing like some of us have all the success and some of us have all the failures.
Now if we think deeply, we have both positivity and negativity in existence on any given level. Now comes where our attention is going. Should we rely more on positive thoughts, or prefer to think more of negativity? Don't you think that the issues we want to concentrate on become more prominent in our lives? So, those of us who dwell only with problems will always see problems. Whereas, people who choose to focus on positive energy, will get peace of mind even if they are surrounded by a lot of problems. Take a moment and assume that we are trying very hard to find a solution to our problems but what's next? Another problem shows up, right? And this is how one problem after another and it continues like this. And this is the reality of life. It's not that we should be ignorant of the problems that concern us. But if we emphasize positivity instead of focusing only on negativity, our life seems less complicated.
Let me give an analogy, a person does not drown by falling into the ocean rather he drowns if he chooses to stay there instead of trying to save himself. Similarly, if anything unexpected happens to us, instead of overthinking about why this happened, we should try to assign a meaning to the event that occurred to us. This is how we may emphasize solutions instead of finding ourselves drowned in the middle of an ocean. Needless to say, there are struggles in everyone's life but it depends on us how we deal with that.
Another toxic mistake that keeps us trapped is that we get caught in unpleasant circumstances psychologically, emotionally and physically. It gets even worse when we also reflect too much on the negative aspects of our past in particular. We often tend to assume that it's like a preventive mechanism that makes us learn not to repeat the same mistake. Yet it is also self-defeating, as it can also influence the counter. Taking lessons from our past is definitely important but we do need to have the mental discipline to think about moving forward. So our history can be a place of reference but not a place of residence. So going forward will help us create new memories coming out of the past.
Now the question is how we can get out of these toxic habits?
One of the solutions can be the daily practice of gratitude. Many types of research show that it can even improve depression and anxiety symptoms simply by maintaining a journal of appreciation and gratitude. We can write three to five things every day that we are grateful for. I do it every day and I can suggest everyone do so. Since we are dealing with a severe crisis of Covid 19, it is very difficult to hold our patience at this moment. Yet we can try to look at the positive things we have to make our life a little easier. That's how we can turn our attention to what we have, rather than what we lack. Because what we focus on grows. Thus the significance of the positive things in our life grows.
I believe focusing on what lacking makes us feel poor or stressful. On the contrary, when we focus on what we have, we feel rich and content. We know everyone has ease and hardship in life. Yet we'll find more and more opportunities to be thankful if we choose to concentrate on what we have and practice gratitude. But if we keep dwelling on what we don't have in life, we'll continue to have more and more problems to worry about. Human beings take care of the things that they are accustomed to. So we need to train our brain not only to be thankful but also to begin to consider noticing things we should be thankful for.
The writer is a Lecturer, Brac Institute of Language, Brac University