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“When we know who we are, we can overcome our fears and insecurities. We surpass our smaller selves who suffer the slings and arrows of our conditioned reality, and we move to the unconditional truth of our larger selves. The answers to the questions of what to say, what to do, whom to let in, and whom to keep out become a clear and simple matter of listening to our hearts. That inner voice helps us align with our purpose, because each of us has a purpose, even if we judge it to be insignificant. The voice is there. We just need to listen to it. When we do that, we live in fearlessness.” —Arianna Huffington from her book On Becoming Fearless . . . in Love, Work and Life
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #106
Fearlessness, not being intimidated by a life in which tomorrow or the future is unknown, is inspiring advice to give, but it is a hard approach to embrace as the doer of being fearless. In fact, being brave becomes ever harder when we’ve had a bad day, when our energy is low and when we’ve been presented with something we mightily want but due to our past lack of success are lacking the confidence to believe we can attain it.
As discussed in 2013, I shared 10 surefire ways to fix a bad day, and today I’d like to take it one step further. What if that bad day or moment is prompted by what is dancing around in your mind? What if you’re having a hard time being fearless, even if you know you should? What if you are typically a very optimistic, hopeful person, but for some reason, on this particular topic or issue, you can’t seem to kick the negative head talk to the curb? Well, having been in this situation more than a few times, I’ve finally found tools that have enabled me to squash the negativity trying to pull me down and I cannot wait to share them with you.
First, let me begin by saying because we are all dynamic individuals, continually growing and stretching ourselves, trying new things and becoming better and improved versions of ourselves, we will never entirely rid our lives of negative thoughts that will pop up. But the difference is how we handle these moments when they arise. Here are 10 tools to help you squash negativity and continue living the fulfilling life you enjoy.
1. When you need love, give love
A simple formula that works. Not only does it shift the focus from feelings of momentary loneliness or lack, but it gives to those to enable them to feel what you know is truly uplifting and heart-warming. The giving can be to anyone, but it is something that improves their lives, no matter how small, reminds them of how special they are or merely gives them a boost of reassurance. Perhaps it is a phone call to catch up with a friend from a distance, or maybe a card to let someone know you are thinking of them. Better yet, plan on doing something with someone that they have been wanting to do. Making time for people is one of the most powerful gestures of love because when we feel lonely, it is what we crave from those whose company we enjoy. In other words, flip the scenario on its head and give what you desire.
2. Shift your focus
It can be easy when we have free time on our hands to grumble about what isn’t going well. But in those moments, think of the fact that you have free time. Why do you have free time? So many things are going well to afford you the ability to have free time: a clean house, a house, good health, food in the kitchen, a clear mind, good weather, loved ones in good health, etc. Perhaps at the moment a few things aren’t going as you had hoped, maybe in love, work or everyday routines, but rather than focusing on what you are lacking why not, as Arianna Huffington suggests “approach our lives . . . with fearlessness and trust.” Trust that you are in the middle of the journey and need to keep on moving forward for it to fall together. If you remain stagnant and grumble about what you don’t have, you will never attain it. Move forward, exercise fearlessness and trust that your journey is headed in the right direction.
3. Dive into what you love
One of the best things I ever made a regular habit of was diving into what I loved. In fact, TSLL blog came about because I was not satisfied with the quality of my days, and so I dove into where my curiosities resided. I have never looked back. Sure, sometimes I have to remind myself of this self-taught lesson, but when I sit down to write, to explore, go on walks with my dogs, capture pictures of scenes that bring a smile to my face, play in the kitchen, play in the garden or attempt anything for the first time that tickles my curiosity, I am present. I am in the moment and I have no time to let my negativity grab hold.
4. Remind yourself of what went well
In Martin E.P. Seligman’s book Flourish he discusses the psychology behind fixating on what is going wrong versus what is going well. For evolutionary reasons, he reminds us that our ancestors prepared for disaster, of which there were many, were more likely to survive than those who sat basking in the sunshine. However, in our modern world, we take the worrying too far. But this worrying can be fixed by honing a skill that will reduce our habit of jumping on the worry wagon. Simply write in your journal each night three things that went well. Try to stick to this for one whole week, and in time this will become a habit, a positive habit that will reinforce the observation of what is going well more often than what is going badly.
5. Re-examing your well-being
Often our mind slips into the negative when we haven’t been tending to our well-being as much as we should have. What is our well-being? Simplistically, it is “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”. It involves many different arenas of our lives: mental, physical, social, emotional, personal and professional. It is our ability to reach the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, to be self-actualized (as we talked about in-depth in this post/podcast episode – #25). It is a combination of many different aspects such as feeling satisfied with your overall life, feeling a sense of accomplishment or having a satisfying direction in your life, being involved in healthy, happy, supportive relationships, feeling engaged in your life – community, neighborhood and the world, tending to your health with your physical exercise, diet and mental strength. Sometimes, a slip or dip in one of these areas that has been strong in the past can make us doubt ourselves in other areas. The tricky part often if figuring out what needs attention, and then we must take the time to mend.
6. Indulge in a healthy way to release emotions
Emily V. Gordon in Super You: Release Your Inner Superhero recognizes that sometimes there will be moments in our lives when we have built up emotions, and we must get them out. Sometimes these are just emotions that while we know how to fix what ails us, we still have to release the frustration. The key is to indulge in an activity that is not relationship-damaging or self-destructive. Each one of us will have different releases, but find a few ways that work for you. Maybe you just need to cry-it-out. Turn on the tear-jerker movie. Maybe it is an intense cross-fit class or squashing garlic with your knife and fist. Garlic-butter anyone? The underlying key for this to be successful, is that you must know why you are feeling emotional. And when you are engaged in this healthy practice of releasing these emotions, Gordon reminds, say the reason outloud (or if in a class, under your breath). Maybe your mother-in-law stepped on your toes one too many times, and even though you stood up for yourself and things are going in the right direction, you just need to let off some steam. Or maybe your fifth first-date of the year didn’t pan out, get this frustration out. While no, there is nothing you can do about the fact, you can release your negative energy so that you don’t inflict unnecessary damage on yourself or anyone you love.
Speaking of a fantastic release, sometimes our negativity builds up because we haven’t given it a way to release itself. And regular exercise is a great way to eradicate the “yuck” from your day. It sometimes isn’t anything of importance or anything to talk about, but sweating it out let’s it roll off our shoulders that much easier. When we’re working out, we’re too busy focused on the moment, and when we’re done, we’re exhausted and our minds want nothing more than to relax. In other words, use your energy in positive outlets. Your abs, arms, legs and heart will thank you.
8. A good night’s sleep
Equally important each and every night is a good night’s sleep. Your mind needs to be recharged, it needs to be reenergized so that it can think clearly, and when we give it the 7-9 hours of sleep it needs, we are less likely to get in our own way. On the flip side, when we are not rested, worrying is easier because we’re not thinking clearly, we’re not able to ward off negativity and we are more apt to fall prey to mind manipulations.
9. See a therapist
For many years I have wanted to see a therapist or a counselor as a preventive tool. So when I finally found someone I was comfortable with and who understand my reason for scheduling sessions, I found it to be immensely beneficial. For some, going to a counselor is to show a sign of weakness, and whether you are going for assistance to fix an aspect of your life or as preventative means, you should never see an investment in your overall well-being as any way shape or form a flaw. In fact, it takes great strength to say, “Hey, I want to improve, and I know I cannot do everything or know everything. Perhaps an objective outsider can help me reach my full potential?”.
In fact, on my first session, I was giddy. Yes, you read that correctly, giddy! My counselor smiled, but it truly was me saying, I am here to continue to improve myself and make sense of my goals and better figure out how to make them a reality all the while assisting myself and getting out of my own way. As Emily V. Gordon of Super You shares, going to a counselor or therapist is a moment to focus entirely on you. And during those sessions when for the most part life is good, it is very much like a spa treatment. I could not agree more. Depending upon where you live, some countries make seeing a counselor very affordable (yeah! France! as Garance Doré shared on her podcast recently), but some do not (yep, America, we need to work on this), but without question, it is a tool that will work as well as you allow it, and it can absolutely be worth the investment.
10. Create and maintain rituals
Something we talk about often here on TSLL blog is the inclusion of rituals in your everyday routine (see below for links). From daily to weekly and even monthly as well as seasonally, rituals provide a moment of pleasure, as well as frees your mind, so you don’t have to create it out of thin air. Emily V. Gordon reiterates in order to have rituals that hold a powerful positive influence over our lives, keep them clear and simple and enact them regularly. So stick to your morning walk in the morning, sip that hot cup of tea in the evening and paint your toes on Sunday while watching your favorite reality shows, it will relax you and tend to your well-being all at the same time without breaking the bank.
Part of the inspiration for sharing today’s post/podcast episode was that I recognize from first-hand experience, sometimes we can get in a funk. It doesn’t mean our lives are going horribly, in fact, they may be going quite swimmingly, but sometimes we aren’t aware that our well-being is out of whack. And until we do recognize why we are feeling the way we are, we can get down on ourselves and our lives. The good news, now we all have the tools. Now we can use this as a checklist as we remind ourselves (1) we are human and negativity will creep in from time to time no matter how amazing our lives are, and (2) we know how to move past it quicker than in the past so that it doesn’t negatively effect ourselves or those we love unnecessarily.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Sex, Love & Therapy (2014) aka Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas (Do You Want It Or Not?)