There’s a stone in my shoe and I’m ok with that (or, how I learned to tolerate distress)

Over the last 6 months, our IT and Facilities Manager, Mathew, has been undertaking a diploma in counselling. What I love is that he’s really focused on applying what he is learning to his own life, before introducing any of these concepts to clients. That’s a really important concept to all of us here at 12 Points, we don’t ask anything of our clients that we’re not willing to try out ourselves!

Here he writes about his experience in dealing with life’s little annoyances in a new and helpful way.

Danielle Graber
Director

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There used to be NO END of things that bothered me. Things that, in the grand scheme, are not that big a deal, but that didn’t stop them getting under my skin. These little things would sometimes bother me so much that they were all I could focus on, and they would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing.

Copy of Copy of Untitled Design (1)The kind of things I’m talking about include anything from; using a poorly-designed website, hearing a grating voice of a stranger on public transport, wearing wet clothes after being caught in the rain, seeing grammar and spelling errors in menus or signs, crying children in the supermarket, or just having a stone or twig in my shoe.

All of these annoyances and distractions caused me actual irritation and distress, and I was just no good at dealing with it.

Enter the daily mindfulness practice.

Yes, yes, mindfulness is so great, I’ve heard this all before. I don’t have time, I tried it and it didn’t work, it’s all a bunch of woo woo, etc, etc.

Let me stop you right there.

I’m not here to sell you anything – just to tell you that mindfulness helped me develop some distress tolerance and these things that used to bug the hell out of me no longer get a rise out of me. I might still notice them – wow, this website is really hindering the user, or, hey, looks like I’ve picked up a little stone in my shoe – and then after noticing them, I can actually get back to enjoying what I was doing.

This didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process that I only noticed in hindsight after I was doing a short mindfulness practice once a day.

But it was an amazing difference.

After walking the dogs in the morning, instead of getting on with the next thing, without a pause or a thought, I would sit down for 5 to 10 minutes, put on a program from the Smiling Mind or Mind the Bump app (both free) and just experience the mindfulness session. After the little bell at the end of the session, I’d get on with the day with a clearer mind, more relaxed and ready to deal with the issues at hand.

I’m certainly not immune to distress and of course, things can still pop up and bother me, but now that I know what to look for in my responses and if something small gets to me, it’s usually a sign that I’ve been letting my mindfulness practice slip, so I know exactly what to do to find my inner zen again!

I couldn’t wait until I started seeing my own clients to share such a simple and effective strategy for dealing with the stones that we all pick up at one time or another! And if you’re curious at all, I encourage you to try it out – your literally have nothing to lose – except those pesky stones! Because you can’t stop every stone from ending up in your shoe, but you can learn to enjoy the walk despite the stone!

Mathew Keany
IT & Facilities Manager