Have you ever thought about the small changes that happen in your mind?
Claire Noyelle, our Maidstone based associate, takes a look at the importance of maintaining our own internal environment and the impact that mental pollution can have on our life.
The idea that the climate of our world is changing isn’t new, even if it is still contentious to some, and awareness of the importance of looking after the environment is growing.
But have you ever thought about how your ‘environment’ must also include the world inside your head?
Let me explain…
The very idea of an Environment Day was established as far back as 1972, during a meeting of the UN general Assembly, with the idea of promoting public awareness and understanding of some of the pressing issues that they foresaw as likely to affect humanity – overpopulation, climate change and pollution.
Many people across the world struggle with what has been termed ‘eco-anxiety’ – a generalised feeling of anxiety about the fate of the world, and the pressure on them as individuals to be responsible for doing their bit to help, as well as to involve others in their work.
Climate change, the impact of carbon emissions and pollution of varying kinds leads to understandable worries about the fate of our planet. It is obviously a huge issue and one that can result in feelings of deep sadness, frustration, anger, and hopelessness.
As with many forms of anxiety, taking action to DO something that improves the situation is a positive step to address these feelings and concerns, and days like ‘World Environment Day’ serve to focus our attention on such challenges – a worthy ideal and one I am wholeheartedly behind.
Our Own Internal Environment
But as I said at the start, we can take the idea of ‘Environment Day’ and turn it inwards – to the idea that the ‘environment’ we live in isn’t just the outside world.
Our ‘environment’ is also our internal world. The world we create in our heads.
Think about that for a second.
How we feel about anything is determined by our own mental, psychological, emotional and maybe spiritual response to it.
How we react to a situation is a result of those responses.
All of this depends on our history of previous experiences, our culture, our conscious and unconscious beliefs, our feelings, and our emotions.
Internal Climate Change
Just like with climate change, our own internal environment can be affected by an accumulation of small things that go on to build up and have a profound impact.
And, as with climate change, a shift in the way we see things as we grow and develop and age is probably unavoidable; but the speed and size of that shift, as well as where it ultimately leads us, is almost certainly accelerated by our own version of human-led climate change – the impact on our minds of our negative behaviours, thoughts and actions.
In a parallel to the influence each country has on the global impact of climate change, the relative impact of our thoughts and feelings, our beliefs and our emotions, our accumulated wisdom and activities can combine and go on to have a positive OR a detrimental effect overall.
Just like carbon emissions, these small increments take a while to build up and become noticeable, but by that time, the change is there and we are living with the results. It simply feels normal, as if it’s always been like that; but the fact is that there WAS a change. It’s just that we have been behaving or thinking or feeling that way for so long that it now feels like the norm, the usual. The standard
It’s the same analogy with pollution. Low levels of smoke aren’t a problem – it can even be useful in helping to preserve food, or make it taste better; but too much smoke and we can’t breathe.
One fishing net in the sea isn’t an issue; but hundreds of them, along with tyres and plastic bottles and carrier bags can accumulate to form a huge ‘garbage island’.
Microplastics are tiny in themselves, but enough of them can choke an environment or damage an animal’s ability to breed.
Just as with these polluting elements, one negative thought, one unhelpful behaviour, one donut or one bottle of wine isn’t a problem; but with enough repetition, the effect of those things accumulates in the environment of our brain, changing the way our brain functions and gradually becoming a habit.
Something that we then feel we have to just live with – the norm.
Changing the World – Our World
When I see new clients, they often say something like “I’ve always been an anxious person; it’s just how I am”, or “I’ve never been very confident, that’s just not me”.
Even “I have an addictive personality – I can’t help it”.
But the truth is, just as with climate change, that these are things that CAN be addressed.
They require effort. They require continuous focus. They require maintenance. They require investment, in time and attention.
But they are possible to change.
World Environment Day aims to raise awareness of the capacity for each of us to make a difference to climate change or pollution levels through our own individual actions, as well as by encouraging each country to act as directed by the treaties ratified by the United Nations – to step up and invest time, money and attention into schemes that change how we, as humans, interact with the world.
In the same way, you can be your own ‘United Nations’ and come up with treaties that drive the different elements of your internal environment in the direction you want!
You, too, can come up with a better strategy for thinking, feeling and acting that promotes a life and an internal environment that you want to be living in.
A life without the emotional pollution, or psychological carbon emissions that would otherwise lead to a place full of anxiety, frustration and powerlessness.
It sounds too BIG to be doable, though, doesn’t it?
Changing how your very brain functions.
But your brain IS capable of change. It just needs an incentive to do so!
The Importance of Incentives
Just as the government has at times given us an incentive to install solar panels or buy an electric car and reduce the overall use of fossil fuels, your brain has a reward system built in that, by deploying the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, can incentivise you to choose different actions.
We just need to tune into this reward system a bit better, noticing what actually makes us feel good for longer, and doing what will make us feel better for the future. Rather than go with what feels ok right here or right now.
We also need to work on our internal pollution.
This will be a different approach for different issues; but as with my example of the donuts, one donut isn’t a problem, but donuts every day might be, leading you to become overweight – it’s a question of balance or proportion.
One doubting, negative thought isn’t going to cause you to instantly plummet into despair; but constant self-criticism WILL have an effect on our confidence and resilience.
Our brains are impacted, shaped and influenced by our environment, and will respond most strongly to the heaviest pressures – the things we do most, our most frequent thoughts and the company of the people we spend the most time with.
If we pay attention to these pressures in our immediate environment, and mindfully choose which ones we make the most effort to prioritise, we can influence how much our brain is shaped by them for the better.
Just as we do with climate concerns, choosing to put our focus on the things that will benefit our long-term future might mean we choose to live a different life now – seeing different people, doing different things and opening ourselves up to thinking differently – that will give us a healthier and more viable life in the long-term.
Solution Focused Hypnotherapy Offers a Helping Hand
But I understand that it might be challenging to think about doing all this on your own. After all, one person can’t make too much impact on climate change; we need others around us to help!
Seeing a solution focused hypnotherapist can be useful to support you – and your brain – to focus your attention right where it needs to be, aiming to improve on one element at a time, in a way that works for you.
All of our Inspired To Change therapists offer a zero obligation, free initial consultation to allow you to explore the concept of changing your brain, one thought at a time. So why not get in touch, book an appointment and start working on your own internal environment for the better, today!
About the Author: Claire Noyelle practices online and from her tranquil garden therapy room at her home in Bearsted, Maidstone East, in the heart of the garden county of Kent. Claire is a member of the Association for Solution-Focused Hypnotherapists, National Council for Hypnotherapy and the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council and a member of both the General Pharmaceutical Council and the Royal Pharma
Inspired to Change Hypnotherapists are all recognised by the National Council for Hypnotherapy, the UK’s leading not-for-profit hypnotherapy professional association.
Find out how you can train as a solution focused hypnotherapist with CPHT.