Andrea Featherstone was a practical, cynical, overachieving architecture graduate with plans for a high powered career. Although her life looking pretty decent on the outside, she felt like something was missing no matter what she achieved.
In her own journey of being indecisive about the future and trying to control her busy mind, it led her to discovering her purposeful work in being a Mindfulness Coach, where she now works with overwhelmed high achievers to transform their lives from “fine” to fucking awesome.
I interviewed Andrea about the techniques she teaches her clients on calming their noisy brains to discern between anxious information and true insights.
We talk about how to distinguish between the self that knows what you want deep down (instinct/intuition) and the mind (which most people think is themselves), which tells you a list of reasons why every idea is a bad idea, and keeps you stuck in the hamster wheel of overthinking rather than taking action.
Check out our conversation below:
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to dis-identify from your mind so that you can differentiate between the constant 50-tabs-open mind activity, and what you really want to achieve in life. By learning to tame your mind you can learn to think more clearly, logically and precisely.
When the voice in your head says, “What if, what if, what if…”
We all have this voice. If we listen to it, it can keep us stuck where we’re at as it’ll tell us the worst case scenario. This can lead us to an unfulfilling and dissatisfying path.
The mind can act as a malfunctioning simulator for the future, and it will benefit us to stop believing/stop listening to the voice in your head that says “Fuck that, let’s stay in our safe, boring job. What if, what if, what if”. It’s not so much about changing mindsets and beliefs, as it is about catching the mindsets and beliefs that run through your thoughts unconsciously and learning how to disengage from them/ get unstuck.
How do we tell the difference between who we are and what is our conditioning?
Kids don’t struggle with finding things to be “passionate” about because their mind (prefrontal cortex) isn’t fully developed. The momentum of the mind slowly numbs the excitement we have for life, and covers over our passions. Mindfulness can help us learn how to unearth our “self” hidden underneath.
We need to learn a new language. We need to learn to feel the emotion that we’re actually feeling. Most of us have numbed ourselves because of stress and anxiety. When you can feel an emotional response to something (what you’re actually feeling, without numbing it), i.e, a job you don’t love, you may find that you will start to take action even if you’ve been stuck for a long time because the reality of really feeling the discomfort you feel without distraction will cause you to make a change.
Instead of listening to the words of your mind, listen to the emotion that comes through when you dig into the questions you have for your life. Accept that something does not feel right, or something feels misaligned, without numbing it out or ignoring it. This can be the first step to acknowledging that something needs to shift, even if you don’t know what the action is just yet.
If the fear has an element of excitement in it, you can follow it curiously, and see where it may lead you to dream.
Having that open hearted conversation with your fear parts doesn’t mean you agree with it. You can use it to give you clues as to what you need to get clear for yourself, or get support in, so that your mind can allow you to keep going forward.
Figure out what emotion is caused by your “gut instinct”
Find out what you’re naturally triggered by, and the underlying belief about the fear. What can be a random trigger reaction vs. a real fear you should actually be noticing. Learn why your mind is freaking out over something you feel you want to do, so that you can understand what is causing it.
Perhaps it’s an old trauma or story that is causing this “bigger than thou” emotion, but it needs to be understood so that your mind also knows that it may not be real to the current situation.
Maintaining your creative brain
If you’re a creative person, you want to maintain the “in the zone” (state of flow) mode to do your best work. When you worry about what people think, you stifle your creativity.
The simple solution: Stop worrying about what people think because you’re not meant to please everyone.
You should expect your mind to judge yourself and judge everyone else – that is the role of your mind to keep you safe (or its intention to). Hear it say what it needs to say, but don’t listen to it.
Use mindful activities by simply meditating 10 minutes before getting into your creative zone. Physical movement can help you focus on your bodily sensations to get you “in the zone” to be immersed in one of your senses because creativity involves focus.
If you’re in your mind, starting your day this way won’t do you any favours. Use some sort of activity that allows you to focus on one or two senses before starting.
Find out more about Andrea’s work:
Andrea Featherstone is straight up mindfulness coach and former cynical pessimist from New Zealand. Andrea runs Project Self (facebook.com.au/ProjectSelfAu or projectself.com.au) and Bloody Good Life 101, a radically honest website and mindfulness program teaching indecisive high-achiever perfectionists how to chill their mind out so they can leap out of the rut (and out of bed) and decide what to do next in life. And what to have for dinner.
P.S. If you find today’s video helpful, please forward it to a friend, colleague, or anyone you think that could benefit. And of course, comment below to speak directly to me and I would love to support you 🙂