November 12, 2015

The Power of Practice: How I Handle my Inner Negativity.

Flickr/ Alan O'Rourke

Have you ever just had one of those days where you wake up in frustration, and just feel as though nothing is working for you?

Where you just want to call in sick to life?

I know I sure have, and sometimes my brain likes to tell me that I am the only one who feels that way! Now, I know on an intellectual level that there’s no way I am the only one who feels a bit on the negative side. Yet when my mind goes there, I immediately grab a hold of that emotionally, and off to the races we go.

The inner critic pipes up. It’s amazing how loud she can be, even after months of having no voice at all. Boom, there she is out of nowhere: “Why bother? You’re going to fail anyway? Why try? It’s never going to work. Just go back to bar-tending, why are you trying to be something you’re not?”

Yes, my friends, even I, your queen of positive thinking and pushing out of the comfort zone, have days where I just want to be a negative Nancy naysayer raining on everyone’s parade!

Admitting that to the world is a vulnerable move for me. Because I always try to present a positive face to the world, I fear judgement when I am feeling down in the negative alley. I have learned though, that constantly presenting a positive side, and denying my dark side, does a severe injustice to myself, and my well being. It takes away from my human experience, and that is what we are here to live, dear readers!

Our human experience consists of light and dark. The muck and the sparkle. We must embrace it all. One cannot exist without the other, so the moment we can learn to embrace it all is the moment we can find a place of acceptance and peace to live in. When we stop trying to be what we are not in any given moment, we find a sense of peace, love, and contentment, even if what we are in that moment is not our favorite. 

Embracing it however, does not mean that we have to allow any given emotion or thought to rule and ruin the beautiful gift of another day. We can take charge of ourselves and shift even the most negative cloud to a more positive light.

Yes, it is true. As I write this, I am already feeling better and my heavy negative cloud is lifting. Why, you may ask? That is what I am writing to share with you.

My process for putting the negative Nancy naysayer back to bed where she belongs—with love. 

The first order of business is to acknowledge how/what I am feeling. What are my thoughts at the moment, and what feelings are arising in response to those thoughts? I don’t analyze or judge any of it, just observe and acknowledge.

If you are anything like me, at this point you’re saying: “Okay I’ve acknowledged. Great, there they are—crappy negative thoughts and feelings. Ugh, I hate how I feel, what do I do?” 

Smile. Here is where I stop and breathe. I take at least five deep, belly, yoga breaths and calm myself. Those deep breaths ground me, and my inner critic starts to suffocate in that grounding. She may try to get louder here, but I just keep breathing. And I smile again. Nothing chokes a negative Nancy naysayer like a smile.

Next I make sure I pause for just a moment and I thank God for another day alive. I mentally thank God for at least five things, even if they are as simple as the sun shining and the fact that I slept well last night. I prefer to do this on my knees, but that’s just me and my connection to the powers that be. It keeps me humble, and checks my ego.

I then aim to practice my sitting meditation, which of course shifts my whole attitude and outlook for the day. I meditate, have breakfast, stretch and go about my work for the day, feeling mostly positive.

However, it doesn’t always go as planned. I may have just laid in bed, dancing with the negativity. Maybe I contemplated calling in sick to life today. Or fantasized about running away to the wilderness. But I’m an adult and that’s not an option. I really try not to touch my phone until after meditation, but hey, I am human.

So, at this point if I have already picked up my phone and gotten sucked into social media, it can go two ways—I can get really sucked in looking at what others are up to, and my Nancy can feed off of that like adding gasoline to a fire. Here is the step that takes a lot of discipline. I must, I repeat must, break the cycle here. I am the only one who has the power to make this shift. 

Instead of scrolling and getting more and more annoyed and negative, I do what I don’t want to do. I like, and I make nice comments on other’s posts—eventually, I feel happier instead of being a hater.

I then post something positive and motivational myself. Something upbeat, fun, colorful, hopeful. I may not feel it yet, but by this point I am feeding the positive side anything I can so that the negative does not win the day. I then put down the phone, and sometimes begrudgingly force myself into my gratitude practice.

It may sound cliché but it works.

Once all of that has played out, I then dive into thinking about someone else. Today I am writing this with hope that it can help others. I also reached out to some friends who are having a hard time right now. I asked how they are doing. I listened. I centered myself in others. When I am outside of myself and helping another, I can’t help but feel better and more positive, no matter how big the hill in front of me is at the moment.

After all this, wherever I am in my day, I take a few moments and I go outside. I smile at the sun and I center myself with breath. I give myself a warm hug and a smile, letting myself know that even if the shadow of negative Nancy is still lingering, even if she still whispers in my mind, that it’s absolutely okay. Because I don’t have to do anything with it. The feelings are not facts and they will shift soon.

The blue skies are always just there behind the clouds! Give yourself a break.




Relephant Read:

Sacred Sludge: Loving Your Negativity.

Author: Lindsay Carricarte

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Flickr/Alan O’Rourke

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