- Mental Health
Does Your Stream of Consciousness Flow Into a Sea of Despair?
So there you are, sitting in your canoe in the middle of a lake of tranquility. Everything so peaceful and quiet that you do not even notice the drift toward that small crystal clear stream off to your left. As you enter the stream of consciousness, you at first do not realize your mind has begun to bob and weave in the gentle flow that softly rocks your canoe. Everything is tranquil, soothing and harmonious. Your mind begins to drift...
You think of sunny days, pleasant breezes and the melodious sounds of nature. You think of songbirds -- thrushes, wrens and sparrows -- singing softly in the trees. You recall frolicking squirrels in your backyard when you were a child. You think of the time you nursed that starling back to health and saved it from death's door. Death's door... a bumpy spot in the stream.
You look around and realize the stream has widened, the shore getting further away on each side. You wonder if you should turn back and return to the waters you are more familiar with when you recall the beauty of those frolicking squirrels and the melodies of those singing birds. The joy returns, the stream calms, and you continue on...
You think of all the animals of the woods playing in the solitude of the forest. You think of children laughing as they dance about, enchanted by their games. You remember your youth, the days with your brothers and sisters, the parties with your high school friends, the night you lost the one you thought you would spend your life with to another...
The flow of the stream has become rougher now and the water that splashes in your face leaves a bitter, salty taste on your lips. You try to reverse course and head back to safer, gentler waters, but now the current is too strong. The stream has become a river and your canoe is far away from either shore. The first hints of panic tease the edge of your consciousness, but you try to ignore it and control the course you follow.
Think of the good times, you tell yourself. Do not forgot that life is good. Remember the happiness your heart surely holds. But now you remember those you have lost. Some to other people; some to distant places; too many to eternal sleep. Suddenly you feel so alone, there surrounded by the waters of memory in your tiny little canoe. Looking around, you realize you have ended up in the sea of despair. You are alone. So fully and completely alone.
You want to abandon ship, but you know you will drown in this horrid place. You want to return to shore, regain your footing on solid ground... but you do not even know which way to go. Everywhere you turn there is nothing but the sea. And in the distance you can see the waves swelling, looming larger on the horizon. And those dark clouds approaching... Is that lightning you see?
Have you ever found yourself in this situation when a perfectly normal day takes an unwarranted turn for the worse simply because your mind has taken you places you do not want to go? Well, never fear because there is hope! Look under your feet there in your canoe. See those oars? They are your ticket out of that sea of despair! Or better yet, let's not even go there. Here are some tips for navigating your stream of consciousness to avoid that lonesome sea waiting to swallow you:
- Stay positive
When the water gets a bit choppy and negative thoughts start to creep in, turn back. Do not follow those negative thoughts. Return to happy things, pleasant places, good memories and stay diligent. This will take practice, but if you try you will find you can still go with the flow while occasionally giving yourself a nudge in the right direction.
- Have an anchor
It is best to have something or some things that are bright and cheerful to return to if the going starts to get rough. If you cannot nudge yourself off the course of negativity, return to your anchor and set sail in a new direction. It may take some practice, but you will learn that a cherished memory can redirect your thoughts to a happier, better place.
- Do not get mired in the past
Try to keep your focus on the future. Use memories of good times to see opportunities for future happiness rather than dwelling on past mistakes or disappointments. Always remember you cannot change the past but you can shape your future. Yesterday is gone, but tomorrow -- and even today -- is a new day.
- Be optimistic
Train your mind to focus on the good and not dwell on things that might drag you down. Concentrate on the good things in life and the things you are grateful for. Try to think of the positive outcomes or how you will ultimately triumph even if complications arise. Be confident. Be strong. Be in charge!
Only you can paddle your canoe!
Only you can change your life!