Easter 2018. I’m sitting on a bench in the stunningly pretty French seaside town of Collioure looking out at the same scene as Matisse and Picasso once also gazed at. My ten-year-old son and husband are chatting away happily, very present, very content in the moment and I am gripped with this fear, ‘I shouldn’t be here’. I HAVE to be at home WRITING!
Welcome to authorhood.
This irksome anxious feeling reminded me of doing the leaving cert or exams at college ‘free time’ was ‘study’ time. I was being triggered by that unwelcome niggle that whatever you are doing even if it is eating it is the time you ‘should’ be writing.
To add to the sense of pressure it really didn’t help that my book is called ‘The Positive Habit’ and the core of it is to help people to transform negative thoughts into positive emotions all based on our ability to live mindfully. However, with the help of my loved ones and all the techniques I teach, I practiced what I preach which is to show kindness and compassion to yourself when you need it most. That sunny day by the sea, I was mindfully and kindly anxious!
Writing my first book was like having my first baby, it is beyond exciting, it’s full of new possibilities and love but fundamentally I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The early mornings, the late nights and the total and utter obsession to be the best mother/writer I could be. On both occasions (the book and the baby) I had a slightly rose-tinted view of the new adventure I was embarking on I thought a lot about the kind of buggy I would get and the cute cover of the book. Anyone who has been through the emotional roller coaster of writing a book will know that the incredible commitment it takes is in fact quite like a romance (without the glasses), there are many highs and a lot of lows, doubt and uncertainty are commonplace as you dedicate all of your ‘free’ time to this new and passionate relationship.
A few months before that day in France I had decided the time had come for me to write my first book when I say “I decided” it was like it was decided for me. The book had a life force of its own deep in my subconscious and it was going to be born whether I liked it or not. Fortunately, I liked it though and was very happy when Gill, Ireland’s leading non-fiction publishers, and my first choice agreed to deliver the book for me. OK, no more baby analogies, I promise.
The Positive Habit is a manual for the mind and highly practical. It is based on mindfulness, the science of habit, positive psychology and neuroscience. Many of us have unfortunate default unconscious behaviors that leave us feeling stressed and anxious, learning to identify triggers and turn pressure into compassion is vital. The Positive Habit is unique in that it works while you sleep as you listen to a sleep time audio and wake up with a morning ritual. It is NOT about denying the negative, indeed it is incredibly positive and courageous to feel positive emotions, to let tears flow and to embrace rather than escape from the darker parts of ourselves.
In my own journey of writing the book from that mini-meltdown in France, there were plenty of negative emotions that I positively embraced. Many high achievers suffer from imposter syndrome and when I stepped out of my comfort zone I felt those uncomfortable emotions creeping into my heart and soul. Fortunately, rather than hinder the process, they fuelled it. I worked with them and through them which is what my book is all about. I see people every day who are literally crippled with anxiety in all its shapes and forms, I also see these same people transform their negative thoughts into positive emotions by choosing to accept themselves and to welcome the anxiety rather than fear it.
For me, writing is a powerful therapy in itself and I found myself entering the state know in positive psychology as ‘flow’ where hours pass like minutes, literally. I would be so happy if my husband would say “Ok Saturday we will be out all day and you can get on with your writing.” I would sit down content that I would get so much done and then the next thing, the door would open. “Hey love, we are home”. “HOME”? “But you just left” I would cry.
When I bring my mind back to that day in Collioure I am very grateful for the anxiety that fuelled me forward to create a book that ultimately I am really proud of and I know it will help a lot of people. Oh and one last thing…
The word DEADLINE is just like what it sounds like. It sounds like if you don’t make the date that looms you will die. I suggest we change the term to ‘LIVELINE’ instead? After all most deadlines are about creating something new, giving new life and meaning to the world, now that is much more positive!
(c) Fiona Brennan
Fiona Brennan is a clinical hypnotherapist, mindfulness and NLP practitioner, mental-health expert on TodayFM, TEDx speaker, blogger and an ambassador for positivity in the media. With a busy clinic and a long waiting list, Fiona launched her online, five-star rated hypnotherapy programme in 2016 which now helps people all over the world.
About The Positive Habit:
Love, calmness, confidence, gratitude, hope and happiness: these are the six emotions that tip the balance of our mindset in favour of a positive outlook rather than a negative one. Wouldn’t it be great to feel these positive emotions more of the time? Now you can with Fiona Brennan’s ultimate manual for the mind.
With a chapter on each emotion, and practical steps on how to cultivate them, this profound, practical plan utilises mindfulness, habit, positive psychology, and neuroscience. It will show you how to train your brain to embrace negative thoughts with courage and love, and transform them into positive ones.
Accompanied with an audio-hypnotherapy meditation plan that takes just a few minutes a day, split between your morning and evening, this book will transform your mental health – it even works while you sleep. With repeated use, you will let go of unnecessary negativity and stress, sleep peacefully and wake up happy as you develop The Positive Habit.