Are you stuck in the house?  Have you been quarantined? Wondering what to do with all the new time on your hands? Netflix calling to you?

​Katie and I are in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Normally a hotbed of music, food, and partying.  Not at the moment though!

Alan Donegan writing a blog post on the deck in New Orleans during lock down

Alan this morning creating this blog post to share with you. Focusing on creation!

We came here for Katie to learn Jazz piano, to go to the bars and listen to jazz, and soak up the food and culture.  3 or 4 days after we arrived here, the state shut down all restaurants, bars, clubs, events, gyms etc. and the city went into lock-down. 

We now have many hours on our hands and I am wondering what to do with them!  What am I going to build?  What am I going to learn?  What am I going to create?

You can build anything……..

This post is as much for me as it is for you.  I have been unsettled by recent events and I am trying to find my motivation, energy, and strength again. 

Day 1: Lock-down was announced.  Everything was closing.  We had one last meal out in a deserted restaurant.  We felt unsettled by everything going on.
Day 2: I was positive and happy, and felt like it was a blessing to have this time alone at home to work on my fitness, health, and work projects.
Day 3: The situation hit me and I felt sad for the small businesses that had lost their income, the people that had been infected, and the change being forced on the world
Day 4: I woke up with the question, “What am I going to create?”

However you are feeling about the current situation or the life events that are happening to you is fine.  These feelings are natural.  The issue is not that you feel these things, the issue is that they can tend to go on repeat in most people’s heads and drag them down.

It becomes a spiral of doom as my wife, Katie, likes to call it.  You read the news, think about the problems and feel bad, you feel bad for feeling bad and it spirals.  Those feelings and thought loops in your head creating a downwards trajectory.

The key is to stop that downward trajectory, to interrupt the pattern, and then to replace it with a more positive thought, question, or focus. This post is going to be in two parts.  Firstly, it is about how to interrupt the patterns, stop the negative thoughts and avoid the spiral of doom.  Secondly, it is about replacing that thought pattern with something more positive.

Pattern interrupt

When one gets into a negative spiralling thought pattern it can be tough to shift, and takes energy.  My plan is to give you a set of tools and techniques that you can use in different situations to interrupt this pattern for long enough for you to take control of you mind and re-focus it where you want to focus. 

Here are the different strategies and methods that I use.  This is meant as a toolbox that you can reach into and pull out the one you need most at the right time.  They are not all relevant to all situations.

  1. Move – one of the quickest ways to change your state is to change your physiology.  Get up off the couch, put down the phone, stop reading the news, and move.  Jump up and down, wrestle the dog, go for a walk.  Do anything.  By moving you get the blood pumping to your brain, you release different chemicals (dopamine, endorphins & serotonin) and you chemically change your state.  Movement is the quickest way to interrupt the downwards spiral. It can also be the last thing you want to do if you are feeling down.  I urge you to jump up, do some star jumps, wrestle someone or bounce like I do!
  2. Get it out of your head – your brain is an incredible machine and if you give it a challenge it will sit there processing it until it has solved it.  This is amazing for problem solving but not so good if there isn’t a solution you can be part of right now. With the Coronavirus l can take the basic precautions, wash my hands, social distancing etc. but that is about it at the moment. I am not going to be the one to solve it.  So I need a way to get it out of my head and park it so that I can get on with feeling more positive and happy.The way I do this is to open up a blank notebook page and write out my thoughts and feelings, all of them!  I then file this page under “other shit” and put it away as it doesn’t help me.  I have used this technique to great effect dealing with business challenges, life challenges, and relationship challenges.  Get it out of your head and park it somewhere that you won’t look at it again.
  3. Tell someone – similar to getting it out of your head, find a positive and sane human to talk to about your feelings.  Let them out and then let them go. The trick to this one is to find the sane and positive human to do it with.  If you pick the wrong person and they happen to be in a bad state at the same time as you are then this is going to turn into a pity party where you both feel worse.Find a  positive person, tell them your feelings (hopefully they are a good listener and accept your feelings) and then let them go.  Then you can start to talk about more positive things.
  4. Don’t indulge – sometimes you just need to STOP.  I am amazed by the fact that the #1 film on Netflix on the day of all the lock-downs being announced was Outbreak starring Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo. People are hearing all this news and then they watch movies about the world ending because of airborne diseases? Sometimes you just need to stop listening to the news, watching end of the world movies, and talking about the problem! If you catch yourself swiping to the news app to get the latest, if you catch yourself thinking about the pain, then just say STOP to yourself and get up and do something else!I had to do this last night.  I was sat on the couch and I caught myself swiping left to see what the headlines were.  I said “STOP” to myself and got up, walked to the other room to see Katie.If you are thinking; “this sounds great, Alan, but how do I keep up-to-date?” Then this is even more important for you.  Allow yourself 15 minutes a day, from reputable sources like WHO or the BBC and then stop.  Set yourself a time limit
  5. Visualise pushing it away – one of the tricks I learnt from an NLP course I went on many years ago was to push the images associated with my negative thoughts away into the distance.  If I am having a bad thought and it is repeating, I will imagine it as a picture and push it off into the distance, seeing it get smaller and smaller until it disappears. If it comes back I do the same thing again and I train my brain I don’t want to keep this at the fore of my thoughts.  I push it away.This visualisation technique can buy you enough time to be able to change your thoughts and replace them with something more positive.

​There are 5 ways to interrupt negative thoughts patters.  Next step is to:

Fill the void

Have you ever tried meditation?  Tried to keep a blank mind? I find this really difficult to do.  I will keep a blank mind for a few seconds and then a thought pops into my head.  I see the thought, quieten my mind again and find peace and stillness again and then comes another one!

I have found is it is better for me to take control of where my mind is focusing rather than trying to remove  negative thoughts.  I use the tools above to interrupt my thoughts and the spiral of doom and then I change focus.  The best way I have found to do this is to ask great questions and then focus on the answer.

The question I woke up thinking about this morning is, “What can I create?”  I wrote a whole article about creation versus consumption and I believe now more than ever people are going to go into consumption mode trapped at home.  They are going to consume increasing amounts of media, news, social media, streaming services, and more.  I worry about the effect this will have on people’s mental health over the next month.

So I am going to urge you to think about what you can create?  What can you build? What can you use this time to make real?

Because you can build anything with this time you have gained.

Picture

You have a blank canvas of time. What are you going to create with it?

What are you going to create?

As you all know I love Lego.  The simplicity of the bricks and the ability to put them together in endless combinations to create anything.  

Around your house right now are lying all sorts of different building blocks that you could put together to create anything.

Here are some of the ideas I have had for this period:

  • Could I work to deepen and create stronger relationships with the people I love?  Video chatting and connecting?
  • Could I finish my first movie and work on my second?
  • A friend of mine was telling me that her goals for the year were to build a dining room table and have dinner each night with her family.  Well now is the time to learn the skills on YouTube and build the table for dinner!
  • At Rebel, with all our events being cancelled we are working out how to create online content and do a better job of delivering the mission of helping people
  • You could create an obstacle course round the house for a race with your friends or family
  • You could create a blog and talk about your experiences?
  • You could do online yoga videos and working on creating the body you want
  • You could go on a dating site and using social distancing as an excuse to build amazing new relationships
  • You could create new recipes and experiment with cooking new things
  • You could create something new for your business?  A new course to sell, a new product to sell during the bounce that is coming?
  • You could create a book?
  • You could create the photobooks of your life that you have always thought about doing?
  • Create art
  • Create a podcast?
  • Create the best pancake recipe EVER!  If you achieve this please share with me. 

Interrupt the pattern.  Stop the negative thinking and then focus on what you can create.  Then get the **** on with it…….

What are you going to create?

I would love you to take a moment right now and write three ideas for things you could create in the comments below!  What are the first three things you come up with that you could create in the coming weeks?

I am not going to hold you to actually creating it.  I just want to get your mind focused on creation.  And your three things might inspire other people who are reading this post too!

I urge you to stop consuming and start creating!

Stay healthy and safe.

Love from Nola

Alan

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