Toolkit 101: Mindful Mastery - The science and the know-how

brain exercise emotional literacy impulse control mesearch mindfulness self-acceptance self-awareness self-discovery Jun 22, 2024

Starting your own journey to self-awareness 

I feel compelled to revisit the stories shared by Nick Elston and Sam Williams on recent episodes of The Big Drink Rethink. Both Nick and Sam discussed their struggles with alcohol and how it masked deeper issues like trauma, OCD, GAD, undiagnosed ADHD, and perimenopause.

Alcohol: a symptom, not the root cause

For many, alcohol becomes a problem, but it's rarely the root cause. It's often a symptom of deeper issues and is an ineffective coping mechanism that leads to dependency. True healing requires understanding oneself, developing self-awareness, and ultimately self-acceptance.

The path to self-love

Self-awareness starts with getting to know yourself, warts and all. This journey leads to self-appreciation and self-love. When we love ourselves, we instinctively protect and care for ourselves, making harmful habits like drinking illogical.

MeSearch: self-led exploration

Both Nick and Sam emphasised the importance of therapy and self-led exploration, or "MeSearch." Curiosity about oneself is a powerful tool. Asking "Who am I?" can lead to profound insights and a better understanding of our emotions and needs.

Building emotional literacy

Understanding our emotions is crucial. Emotional literacy involves identifying, labelling, and appropriately expressing our feelings. This awareness prevents emotions from hijacking our rational brain and driving our actions, such as drinking.

Alcohol and emotional manipulation

We drink to alter our emotional state, but this suppresses our true emotions. This suppression can lead to long-term health problems. Think of it as trying to hold a beach ball underwater—it will eventually pop up, often in unpredictable ways.

Embracing emotions and authenticity

To be authentic, we must embrace our emotions without using alcohol to manage them. Our emotions guide us toward what matters most and align with our values. Drinking prevents us from fostering deeper connections and understanding our true selves.

Mindfulness and meditation: tools for self-discovery

Mindfulness and meditation are accessible tools for emotional and self-awareness. They help strengthen the prefrontal cortex, responsible for emotional regulation and decision-making, which alcohol impairs.

Practical Steps for Mindfulness

  1. Start Small: Begin with just a few seconds of awareness a few times a day.
  2. Find a Comfortable Space: Sit in a relaxing spot, close your eyes, and focus on your body and breath.
  3. Celebrate Realisations: When your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath and celebrate your awareness.
  4. Use a Phrase: Repeat a simple phrase like "relax" or "be still" with your breath to stay focused.
  5. Build Slowly: Start with a few minutes daily and gradually increase.

Benefits of regular practice

Studies show that regular meditation practice can improve attention span, self-control, and emotional regulation. It helps people quit smoking, lose weight, and stay sober by strengthening neural connections and impulse control in the brain.

Embrace mindfulness in everyday life

Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere, anytime. Set reminders to step out of your thoughts and notice your surroundings. Consistent practice leads to significant shifts in how we handle stress and view life.

Conclusion: rediscovering authentic happiness

True happiness comes from within and understanding our emotions. By exploring our true selves and practicing mindfulness, we can find lasting joy and live authentically. Let's get curious about who we are and embrace our emotions to strengthen our relationships and live our best lives

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