Are ya feelin’ lucky, punk?

by Jul 4, 2024Mindfulness, Psych K, Wellbeing0 comments

On the weekend as I was out walking, the sun disappeared, the skies suddenly opened up and Clancy and I got drenched as we ran for shelter under a shop verandah  🌧️

And then I heard a car horn toot – it was my neighbour pulling in and throwing open the car door for us to jump in!

Sometimes ya just get lucky 🍀!

Like how I came to teach Mindfulness to the first year med students at Monash – I happened to be walking with a friend who taught there and she was going on maternity leave – she recommended me, and 18 years later, I’m still there. 

It was totally unexpected and it’s been a fantastic addition to my tool kit by expanding my understanding from a Chinese Medicine perspective to the neuroscience about the powerful connection between the mind, body and emotions. Combined with PSYCH-K®, I feel so very fortunate to have found modalities over the years that I still love working with.

Of course…the other side of luck is this: Life takes some effort. It isn’t all luck. Including our mental and emotional health. We’ve got to work at it when things don’t seem to be working out the way we’d hoped or planned.

So here are the things I do when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, and when my answer to Clint Eastwood’s question would be a definite ‘No!’

1. I try and put the situation into perspective by listing the positive things that are related to the experience that is causing me grief.  What’s gone well so far, and what likely good things are on the horizon?

It’s easy to catasrophise and see everything as negative or a disaster, so a stocktake list is an important  reality check.

2.  I remind myself that it’s often a matter of timing and that no matter how much I want it to happen NOW, you can’t rush some things. Other pieces (or people) need to happen (or do their bit) first …

3. If those 2 steps don’t help, because the reality is as bad as it seems, and nothing short of a fairy with a magic wand would fix it, then I do the next steps.

4. The next important thing to do is to Accept that this is the way it is. Acceptance is one of the mindful cognitive tools that, paradoxically, releases the emotional tension and makes room for tiny moments of peace.

It’s not a linear or instant fix. Accepting that something is what it is, whether you like it or not, is a process that takes time as we gently remind ourselves again and again that this is where we are, this is the situation, and though we feel all sorts of emotions about it, they won’t change it.

5. Next, I give myself permission to feel those painful emotions that this loss or failure bring up in me. It might be frustration or anger or grief or fear – whatever it is, it’s normal and understandable, and acknowledging those feelings is healthy and helpful.

6. The important thing is not to let those feelings taint everything else in your life. Feel them but don’t let them take over – we’re bigger than our emotions, even the intense ones, and so we can learn to regulate them so that they don’t control us.

7. I bring to mind all the positive things that are happening in my life. In mindfulness, it’s the cognitive tool called Perception. 

This is similar to the first step – understanding that the way you perceive something will profoundly affect your response to it. If you decide that everything  terrible, then you’ll feel ten times worse than if you can stay aware of the positives that (hopefully) are also in your life, even small ones. It shifts your perspective and helps balance the negative.

 And if there really aren’t any positives, then it brings us back to Acceptance (#4) – hard, yes, but necessary to being able to come to terms with the situation, and move forward.

8. And finally … If it’s all very painful and I feel overwhelmed or stuck in my emotions, then I talk to a friend who’ll be supportive and kind. And above all, a friend who knows how to give me the right amount of sympathy without adding fuel to the flames.

 It takes more than luck to make a good life, one filled with a sense of meaning and being able to see the whole picture, the joy, the grief, the love, the pain. It’s part of being human – no magic wands, just the diverse and complex experiences that are a part of life.

My darling mother was a master at these steps for being able to navigate life’s ups and downs. (It’s from her that I got my ‘clinical optimism’ as I like to call it.) That’s why, at her funeral, the final song was one of her favourite crooners, Bing Crosby, singing ‘Accentuate the Positive’ – click here for your listening pleasure 🎶 😊

One more thing. Remember to be kind to yourself when things go pear-shaped. Self-criticism and blame are very different from a fair and reasonable assessment of the situation, even when it’s dire. 

And if you want a kind and reasonable ear to talk it through with, you know where to find me 🌷

Liz O'Brien

Liz O'Brien


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