The world has embraced online living like never before. Anyone from your cat to your granny can have a presence on social media. It seems we have found our voice, but it is questionable that our voice is being heard.
Do we even recognise our own voice among all the external opinions and judgements floating around? Are people hearing our voice or are they hearing what they want to hear through their own filtered perspective, cherry-picking the bits they like.
External voices have become louder as we scroll through social media day by day, whether it be facebook, twitter, instagram or tiktok. Our brain is making more decisions than it has ever had to cope with. Do I agree with that comment? Do I like that outfit? Do I need that gadget? Do I want to help that cause? Do I accept that friend request? We are bombarded daily. Defensive and offensive stances have become the norm and we brace ourselves daily for what the news or social media will bring. There are many opportunities to find your voice but very few people are heard.
As well as the external voices coming at us, we have internal voices that come from within. Not all those internal voices are our own. They belong to every person that has influenced us in life, for good or bad. Like a complex computer programme, our brain has recorded all that has been input by ourself and others, and the outputs (our feelings, thoughts and behaviours) are based on a big mishmash of those voices. No wonder we make mistakes and brash decisions we regret.
When we are forced into circumstances that bring pressure, it becomes more and more difficult to find our true self. We can be overloaded by internal voices of judgement trying to influence our decisions, ‘I should do this’, ‘I shouldn’t do that’ ‘they will think this’, ‘they will think that’. Sometimes those voices can be overwhelming and we lose our way, disabling our ability to make decisions or engage in conversation that goes beyond small talk. We misunderstand and are misunderstood, collecting false offence along the way. We can become sensitive and reactive with loved ones as the judgement of those voices closes in. Have you ever reacted to someone and thought, where did that come from? When we flip to a stress response we are no longer able to rationalise and we either fight (shout, argue and defend), flight (avoid, lie and withdraw) or freeze (lose the ability to do anything).
As a carer, the stress response can be accelerated often, especially when caring for someone who doesnt have the ability to filter their own internal voices – such as those with autism or mental illness. Our emotional triggers are repeatedly flipped by the irrational or uncontrolled behaviours on display and there is a daily battle to remain calm and respond in a way that is true to ourself. It’s not always possible for those we are caring for to learn how to control their emotions, so the responsibility is on us to care for our mental health, taking steps to de-stress and find our own rational inner voice.
Are you stressed more often than not? Have you lost your own voice in the opinions of others? Are your thoughts sometimes chaotic? There are things you can do to help you find your own inner voice.
Breathe. Just like the first steps to repair anything technical, you need to switch your brain off and on again. Reset and switch off stress by slowing down your breathing. According to neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, we have 90 seconds of impaired thought following the release of stress hormones. Take 2 minutes to sit in silence with your eyes closed and focus on breathing slowly. There are several breathing techniques that are easily found online. My go to is 7/11 breathing, which is counting to 7 as you breath in and 11 as you breath out.
Have a sugar break. Sugar effects your hippocampus, a key memory centre. Try a few days of eating a sugar free diet. You will be amazed at how different your thought process is.
Fast food for the day. I dont mean get takeaways! Actually fast from food for at least one day, giving your body a rest and time to repair itself. You will also have more time to think because your not thinking about food half the day 🙂
Sleep. Not always possible as a carer, but whenever you can, sleep for at least 7 hours a night. While you sleep, little hoovers come along to hoover up all the unnecessary thoughts from the day (synaptic homeostasis). Without that process, your brain can become overwhelmed.
Pray. I dont mean throw out some requests for help to a distant far off Deity. God is our source if energy and prayer is a two way transaction. He is closer than we can imagine. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are spiritual beings. In 7 to 10 years from now, every cell in our body will be replaced – we will have a completely new physical body. If we are not our body, what are we? Connecting and drawing from an energy outside of ourself rejuvenates us and prevents burnout. For me that energy source is my creator God and my re-connection to Him came through Jesus who made a way for that reconnection to happen by taking the consequence of my sin upon himself. When we know that level of forgiveness and let it sink in, the layers of judgement become undone and we begin to see our true self. The amazing colourful person we were created to be.
You may not find a platform to be heard but it is possible to find your voice and live in a way that is true to yourself.
If you are struggling with debilitating thoughts or feeling overwhelmed, please feel welcome to contact me. Maybe I can help you to find help.