Due to travel restrictions in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, like many retreat centers, Soltara has had to cancel all retreats until at least the end of April 2020. I am currently on lockdown at home in Peru and I know many others around the world are now working from home and may be facing reduced employment or uncertain financial futures due to the huge impact this is having on business. To support you in this time of increased anxiety, social isolation and uncertain future, I am offering 50% off all online sessions and packages until 30 April 2020. These can be accessed via: www.seanchiddy.com/appointments. For any individual session enter the code: ´50%SESSION´ when you are completing the booking form (valid for up to 5 sessions per person). For the 6-session packages, enter the code: ´50%PACKAGE´ (valid once per person). The codes are valid for all purchases made until 30 April 2020. People experiencing financial hardship can apply for sessions by donation, by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel welcome to share this offer with anyone you think might appreciate it.
ARTICLES & EVENTS
- Oct 20, 2019
- 3 min read
What is worrying?
Worrying is when you think about things that might happen in the future. A little bit of worrying is OK if it leads to a solution you then act on. But what often happens is we worry repeatedly, going around in circles in our head without ever doing anything about it. Sometimes we don’t realise how much we do this or what impact it has on us.
How does it worrying feel?
Most people will tell you they feel anxious, frightened, down, helpless, ashamed, embarrassed or some other unpleasant emotion. I doubt you’ll find anyone who says they enjoy it!
So, given it feels bad, why do people do it so much?
Worrying is like a mental bad habit. We worry because, at some level, we believe it helps us. If we truly didn’t believe anything good would come of worrying, we simply wouldn’t do it. Or as soon as we realised we were doing it, we would immediately stop.
Why do people think worrying is helpful?
You can discover this by noticing when you are worrying and stopping to ask yourself what you are hoping to achieve. Here are a few common reasons people give:
Worrying helps me solve problems.
Worrying helps me avoid things I don’t want.
Worrying shows that I care.
If I didn’t worry that would make me a careless or heartless person.
Worrying helps me prepare for bad things happening.
Worrying makes me focus.
I can’t stop myself from worrying even if I want to.
Are these beliefs really true?
The short answer is: No. But saying it just like that is unlikely to convince most people to stop worrying. Doing so takes patient self-inquiry. There are various methods but all start from a recognition that worrying doesn’t feel good and therefore it’s worth questioning.
So what’s the alternative to worrying?
Again, there are various methods of breaking out of the habit of worrying. One popular way is to compare worrying side by side to a structured problem solving technique. Here’s an example of seven problem solving questions you can ask yourself to help you break free of worrying…
As soon as you notice you are worrying, ask yourself:
1. What specifically am I worrying about?
Take a step back and reflect on what you are actually worried about. Many people don’t recognise how scattered their worries are until they try to define them. That itself is a clue: If you can’t think clearly when you are worrying, how helpful is it likely to be?
2. Is this something I can actually do anything about?
You’ll be surprised how often you find yourself worrying about something completely imaginary, or that you can’t actually do anything about anyway. Again, that’s a clue: If you can’t do anything about something, what is the point of worrying about it?
3. If yes, what is it that I can do?
This is where we start to shift towards practical problem solving. Brain storm. Make a list. Again, be specific and make sure these are things that really can be done, even if they might take time, or you need help. Break big steps down into smaller steps wherever possible.
4. Is there anything that can be done, right now?
One of the fastest ways to offset worrying about something, is to take action based on the list of things you can do about it. Even small steps, like sending an email, or phoning someone can benefit your state of mind.
5. What can I schedule to do later?
If there are steps you can’t take now, but can later, schedule them. Make a note in your diary or planner of what you will do and when. Again, even small steps written down like that are effective in reducing worrying.
6. Now, think again, what remains?
Once you have done everything that can be done now, and scheduled everything else that can be done later, and acknowledged what you can´t do anything about, what is left? If something is still niggling you, try going through the previous steps again to see if you missed anything. At this point (or even before) many people realise there is no point worrying anymore.
7. What do I want to focus on instead of worrying?
Intentionally refocusing on something of your choice will often help to shake off any remaining worry, especially if you have thoroughly considered all the above steps. It also helps to remind yourself (as often as needed!) that you can make a choice about what to focus on, even if your mind seems to run away with itself when you forget that!
Try it out next time you find yourself worrying about something. What do you think? How does going through these seven steps compare to your normal habit of worrying? Is there anything you would add or change here? What works best for you?
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- Oct 20, 2019
- 5 min read
If you haven’t heard of core beliefs, it’s worth developing some understanding of what they are and how they affect you. The term ´core belief´ refers to the deeply held foundational beliefs we have about life. They form very early on in our cognitive development (in our early childhood) and most of our rules and strategies for living are built on top of the them. By the time we are adults, our core beliefs are generally stable.
You can have positive core beliefs like, “I am a good person”, or, “I am loveable”, which are generally benign and helpful to have. Unfortunately, the reality is that many of us end up with at least some less than helpful core beliefs like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m worthless” or, “I’m a bad person” (and various others). The reasons we form unhelpful core beliefs include cultural conditioning, ancestry, traumatic or emotionally distressing experiences, intentional and accidental neglect and abuse and various other factors that shape our experience of life in a less than helpful way.
You know an unhelpful core belief is activated because a deep and familiar unpleasant feeling comes up. The trigger will often be something stressful, upsetting or potentially challenging happening. This even includes positively challenging things, like opportunities to do something new or meet some new people. It is likely to feel very familiar and may not even seem like a clearly articulated thought. It might seem more like a deeply felt sense or perception about yourself or the world. It often just seems like “the way things are”. Sometimes, the very familiarity means we don't realise we are actually perceiving things in a very specific way, through the lens of a biased and subjective core belief, rather than any kind of objective truth.
It might seem hard to imagine seeing yourself or the world any other way. Most of our core beliefs are almost as old as us and operate partially unconsciously. Our habits of perception and behaviour reinforce them. If it’s the way things have always been then we assume it’s the way they always will be!
So can we actually change them!?
Core beliefs can be sneaky, stubborn and painful little buggers to work with. But, yes, with some (considerable) determination, you CAN change them! This involves several stages. Firstly, we need to realise that intentionally changing our beliefs IS possible. Secondly, we have to make the decision that we do want to change our beliefs. Thirdly, we need to find ways of doing that.
You do not have to know how, or to have perfect confidence in yourself to begin. These things can be discovered and developed along the way. There are various skills and strategies that can help you, but in general, persistence and time are the key ingredients, regardless of which methods you are using to try to change your beliefs.
Sometimes you can get lucky, and change comes easily or even accidentally when the circumstances of life conspire to give you the opportunity to see things differently without much effort on your part. But, for the most part, if you really want to get anywhere, it comes down to being willing to work gradually through things and create the opportunities to learn something new about yourself and the world. The reason it can be hard work is we are less impressionable when we are older than when we are children.
We are trying to change when we are actually not as flexible or fast at learning new things as we were when we formed our beliefs in the first place. That might sound a bit pessimistic, but it helps to be realistic and to understand why you might sometimes feel it’s so hard to change some aspects of yourself, despite your heartfelt wish to. Once you realise that is totally normal to find changing your core beliefs hard, at least you can be reassured it’s not your fault! (Repeat after me: “It is NOT my fault!”). This is true regardless of what you may have heard or may even tell yourself.
Even though it is not your fault you formed the beliefs you did, you can choose to take responsibility for the opportunity to change. No one else can do that for you. That doesn't mean you have to do everything yourself. People can help you, sometimes a lot, so do ask for help when you can. Help can come in many forms, not even just from other people. Inspiration can appear anywhere in the world and can emerge from inside your mind in the most unexpected ways. But in the end, you are the one who is going to carry the change as it emerges within yourself. Your conscious commitment to that is the most reliable aspect of all this that is within your control.
So, why is this even a thing!?
We are creatures of habit, and it can seem more comfortable to stay the same, than try to change, and face the potential to fail or to feel worse. The very core beliefs we want to change can create a vicious circle. For example, imagine you have a core belief like: "I'm not good enough". Therefore, when you think about trying to change, chances are you will think: "If I try, I'll fail"...Then you might be tempted not to try at all; or if you do, to give up easily assuming any small setback is a sign of failure.
Sound familiar? Such thinking is more common than you might realise. Not a very helpful thinking pattern is it!? But in reality, most of us carry this or other vicious circles in our thinking habits to some degree. And they interact with each other like a web of lies, distorting everything we look at and experience. Like I said, sneaky little buggers!
So, yes, you are normal if this happens to you. But, you CAN change. If you are willing to put in the work, the benefits are absolutely worth it! No doubt about it!! Core beliefs are the beliefs at the very heart of how we see ourselves and the world. They effect all our experiences on a daily basis. So even if you only partially change even one of the unhelpful ones to something more helpful, you carry that benefit into every experience you have from then on! So the benefits compound long after the initial effort has passed.
Once you have made one change, it becomes easier to believe that a second change is possible. Once you've made a few small changes, you can start to see the cumulative effect. Once you experience a significant shift in perception, all of a sudden the whole of life begins to look like a very different game than it did before....
So, what have we got to lose!?