I am unsure what it is about our brains, but one common theme amongst all humans I have met or listened to is that we doubt ourselves, our abilities and our dreams. Even those who have risen to the greatest heights compete with negative self-talk, upper limit problems and limiting belief structures.
Since I have been down here in Baltimore, life has been a constant roller coaster of ups and downs in emotions, and the only thing that has remained constant is the self-doubt within. The difference is how well I handle it. Personal development has been critical to my remaining sane, and I have noticed that the days I handle my internal thoughts poorly are the days that I did very little personal development.
It’s more than just “the power of positive thinking”, it’s about training yourself into recognizing self-destructive thoughts and behaviors and having the will power to re-direct the energy or reframe your state of mind.
The triggers I have. I can definitely tell when I am being self-demeaning and destructive. I even know how silly the words in my head sound. There are times where it feels downright laborious to turn around the negativity into positivity. It feels like lead in your chest and salt in your eyes. The tricky thing is that I can only tell you, who may be facing these same issues, what works to get me out of my valley. Every person is going to have something a little different.
1) Remember that if anyone else talked to us the way we do, we certainly wouldn’t be friends with them.
If we’re not keeping toxic people around us, why should we keep toxic thoughts? Yes, easier said than done, but if you remind yourself of this every time the negativity creeps in we can start to eradicate it. If you do have friends that say things to you that make you feel terrible, maybe it’s time to think about cutting the toxicity out of your life. If you hang out with people who wear shirts that say “My Life Sucks”, chances are you are going to begin to believe that too. Not good.
2) Partake in a physical outlet
If you do something on the regular for workout, do something different. Challenge yourself. “But wouldn’t I just be setting myself for failure?” Maybe you might struggle with rock climbing or racquetball if you’ve never done it before, but if you focus your energy on learning the new thing or practicing the new hobby, that’s less time for you to dwell on whatever it was that set you down your negative path to begin with.
3) Write down 10 things you are grateful for
Gratitude journals are amazing. Keeping a small book in your purse, car or even just a piece of paper in your wallet can help you when the mood of depression or despair randomly strikes when you’re out and about in your day. Write down what you’re grateful for, or even 5 things that are going really well for you in your life or that you’re looking forward to. You can even write a gratitude list or goal sheet and put it on your wall or on the dashboard of your car.
4) Eat well
So many of us turn to food when we get bogged down in life. If you keep healthy snacks and treats in your house, then even if you lose self-control and binge out on celery. Well. That’s a good thing. That bowl of berries may have sugar, but at least you didn’t just put away 3 frozen burritos. Eating healthy can help your brain produce all the good hormones more often, and those with a healthy diet and exercise routine have been shown to be less depressed.
5) Schedule one day a week to spend with friends
This could be a girls’ night, game night or LAN party. Whatever you want to do to make sure you’re getting out and being in a positive frame of mind. It’s easy to feel guilty about setting time for ourselves, the self-talk may tell us that we’re not working hard enough or we don’t deserve the time with friends. But you do. No matter what you think, you deserve the time where you are happy and surrounded by friends.
6) Begin saving for something fun
Even when you’re stress comes from financial worries, having a coin jar that you put money into (and don’t smash!) to build up for something big can help you feel better about the direction you’re going. Plus, it gives your brains something to dream about. And dreams are always magical and happy things.
I get funny looks when my radio is working (even more when it isn’t working) and I have my windows rolled down and I’m belting “Defying Gravity”, “Rent”, “Nobody Does it Better”, “Let it Go”, “Dog Days Are Over”, “Radioactive”, “Edge of Glory” … you get the point. Pick the mood that you want to be in and grab a song list from there. If you need to sing out some angst get it out and move on. Use it as the release and then move forward.
8) Dance like no one is watching
Yup. When I’m not singing, I’m dancing. Again… usually in the car. “How to Be a Heartbreaker”, Glee’s mash-up of “I Will Survive”/”Survivor”, “Miss Jackson”, “4 Minutes”, “Body Movin’” … if you see a black VW with derby stickers and a chick rocking out in the driver seat – that’s me. Say hi. And throw down some moves yourself.
Why do you think I did this blog?
Not just writing out your gratitude journal, but sitting down at a keyboard and opening yourself up to be a little vulnerable. You don’t ever have to share the thoughts with anyone, but expressing them can be highly cathartic and help you get through whatever valley you find yourself in. If you have a passion, sit and write about it! It doesn’t matter if it’s knitting, cooking, lizards or Sumerian art… it doesn’t have to be your feelings, it just has to be something that will redirect your energy into something positive.
10) Listen to personal development
30 minutes a day of reading or listening sets a solid foundation for positivity in your life. Doing it in the morning, when your mind is most open to new thoughts and ideas is the best time. If you need a reboot mid-day, don’t be afraid to look up a video by Eric Thomas or Jim Rohn or Zig Ziglar. They are wonderful and can give you the energy to puff up your chest, do the hard deeds, keep your integrity and get things done.
Sometimes I just have to close my eyes, take a breath and remember that no matter what is happening… no matter how something may have fallen apart or shifted directions, it is not because I am fundamentally unlovable. It is not because I am doomed to be a failure or because no one stamped “WORTHY” on my forehead when I was born. Sometimes, it’s just the Universe throwing things in our way. Sometimes, life happens and the strongest among us rise above it, and the rest stay in bed and wonder why the pit in their chest won’t go away.
Breathe. Dance. Write. Sing. Be Grateful. Love your Friends & Family. Find art that you love. Find a new hobby. Be active. Be healthy. Listen to positive thoughts. Create triggers to recognize negative self-talk. Overcome. Be your best. Step into greatness. Love and you will be loved.
We can all get down. It happens, it’s life, right? But how many times do we succumb to the negativity and just let it consume us? Here are some ways I’ve been employing to just … let it go!
Oh and before all of it there’s something I have to say – you have to WANT to improve. Smile. Right now. Do it. I don’t care if you think it’s silly. Smile. Now laugh. Big belly laugh. That’s ok if the guy at the table next to you thinks you’re weird, do it anyway. Now shimmy a little in your seat… more…. more shimmy! Even a little fist pump if you want! Yea, that’s right!
Awesome. You are awesome. Now grin huge because you are awesome. Ok, you can read on now.
Clean Up Your Space
Our feelings often reflect our environment. If our space is dirty, than we will feel even worse than we already do. So stop whining and do your chores! Not only will your space feel fresher and easier to be in, but you can feel good about all the things you just checked off your To Do list.
If you have a moment to address the smells around you I highly recommend you do so. Living in a tight spot with many animals, I am always looking to improve the scents around me. I have found citrus and mint to be invigorating, lavender and eucalyptus to be calming and sandalwood, rose and saffron to be great for intellectual work.
Candles, incense or even creating perfumes out of essential oils are beautiful for making your space more luxurious. All your senses should be happy. Especially your nose.
Make the To Do List
Maybe you don’t know what you need to do because you don’t HAVE a To Do list! BAH! Do it! At the start of each day, sit down for 10 minutes. No computer. No TV. Just write down all the things you need to do (today, tomorrow, in five years, whatever comes to your mind – just get it out of your head!)
Then go through and set your priorities: What should you do first, second, third? What can wait til tomorrow? What needs to be done now so that you can complete the other tasks? What is easy enough that it will only take a half hour of your time now?
Now that you have a list, you can start knocking things off of it. BAM. Productivity!
Read, Watch or Listen to Some Personal Development
Some people will poo poo the ‘self help’ industry, but I embrace it. The authors and speakers that put out pieces for me to listen to or read are heroes to me. They get pumped up and excited about life and business and being a better person! How can you be down on that? There seems to be a correlation between my negative moods and the amount of personal development I do. These books always have some AWESOME declarations to add into your repertoire, as an added bonus!
So here’s to picking up a good book or downloading an MP3 or watching some motivation on YouTube. People to look for: Jim Rohn, Mark Hughes, T Harv Eker, David Novak, Spencer Johnson MD and Stephen C Lundin. If you have a favorite author (or know of great women motivational writers) please comment on this blog with them!
Drink Some Water, Take a Vitamin, Eat some Fresh Veggies/Lean Protein
I’ve said it time and time again: If you feel yucky, look at what your diet is like. I had noticed a lot of processed carbs had crept back into my diet the last 10 days just because of life circumstances. I had not gotten to the store to buy my yogurt so I relied on the “Smart Sense Pretzel Rods” that are gloriously crunchy and salty and in abundance in the house’s kitchen.
Getting back on my Herbalife program with complete vitamins and supplements, 2 shakes a day, recovery programs and my herbal tea and aloe has really helped me to perk up and be ready to go. Plus, my water had slipped a bit. I’m back to my 120 ounces a day, and I feel so much better for it!
Reconnect with a Hobby
I am busy. Everyone knows that. I am told all the time that people are unsure where I come up with the energy or time to do it all. I had to make time for myself recently though, and finding rock climbing again has really lifted my spirits. I can’t wait to cling onto a rock wall on Thursday night.
Rediscovering a hobby that you’ve been neglecting, or been pushing off because “Oh I just don’t have the _______ for that” (could be time, money, energy, etc) is a great way to get the blood pumping again; even if that hobby isn’t a sport. I’ve known some very passionate knitters in my time. Stop pushing it off – go do it!
Dance. And Sing.
I used to dance all the time. I have gotten away from it because my space is a bit claustrophobic. I am discovering you always have room to dance. And sing. Always sing. Here’s the thing: when we’re sad we have a tendency to pick negative or self-deprecating songs to sing or dance to.
DON’T! Find a song of empowerment. Of strength. Of pure ridiculous happiness. Yes, some of them are silly. Boys… sorry most of my song choices tend to be female oriented, but maybe some of them will strike a chord:
Glee – “Survivor/I Will Survive”, “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You”, “Rio/Hungry Like the Wolf”
Estero – “Wicked Little Girls”
Wicked – “Defying Gravity”
La Roux – “Bulletproof”
OK Go – “This Too Shall Pass”, “Here It Goes Again”
Christina Aguilera (or Glee) – “Fighter”
Lady Gaga – “Edge of Glory”
Florence & the Machine – “Dog Days are Over”
Madonna – “Ray of Light”, “Hung Up”
A Great Big World – “This is the New Year”
Spice Girls – “Spice Up Your Life”, “Wannabe”
No Doubt – “Just a Girl”
Rent – “La Vie Boheme”, “Out Tonight”
Guess what? You also improved your cardio while singing and dancing AND burned some calories as you improved your mood. You’re welcome.
When in Doubt – EXERCISE!
Go for a walk. Go for a run. Do 20 lunges and 10 pushups. Stretch at your desk. Get your blood moving! Feeling sluggish is a huge factor in depression and Sir Isaac Newtown had it right when he said “A body at rest stays at rest”.
It’s awesome to develop a routine so that way you know what you’re doing each day. In an effort to redefine my life, for example, I have decided that each day (regardless of derby practice the night before) I am going to make a workout my first priority in the morning. I have begun the 24Fit DVD set, and have had a hard time fitting it in. I get attached to this laptop and then BOOM. Lethargic.
NO MORE I SAY! I am deciding that I want to be stronger and healthier. I am deciding to make working out a bigger priority in my day to day adventures.
Make a Commitment to Do a Gratitude Journal Every Night
Before bed, write down three things you’re grateful for. Reflect on your day, the people in your life and what is going really well for you. It’s so easy to dwell on the negative. It’s so easy to lack the confidence to see past yourself. Push through and be thankful for the things you have, and more positive things will come to you!
I take the opportunity when I do my gratitude to also write down the five things I need to do the next day, so that way I can clear my head and sleep better. Sleep is just as important as water, protein, working out and dancing.
BAD VIBES OUT. POSITIVE ENERGY IN. I know that there are a ton of other things that I could talk about as far as replacing the negative thoughts, but this is a great start. If you do all of this daily – just think of how much happier you could be.
That’s a great thing to note actually. Stop thinking that you don’t deserve to be happy. You do. We all do; Even if we only have 50 cents to our name. If you think positively and we work hard and don’t give up, the universe will reward our efforts. I believe that, sincerely. I believe in you, even if you don’t believe in yourself and I wish I could write a love letter to each of you for Valentine’s Day to let you know that the darkness passes and reveals the first day of Spring.
Reach out for your own happiness.
Do you have other sadness-busting routines or ideas? Songs that get you ready to kick butt at life? Please leave them as comments!!