FIGuring life out: Claiming your now, even if it isn’t awesome

11258042_1654750428089634_5707135923598967093_nI have had to take a brief hiatus from writing to deal with an unpleasant situation.

I am a big proponent of mindfulness, being fully present in the moment, and working to avoid ruminating about bad things that may or may not happen down the road. Mindfulness sounds so wonderful (and there is a lot of research that tells us it is actually good for you). But as it turns out it is quite a bit easier to practice mindfulness when your moments are lovely. It is easy to stay in the now when the now is awesome. But how can we do this when now isn’t quite so awesome?

I haven’t really figured that out yet. I spent most of my not so awesome moments in the past two weeks alternating between escapist fantasy (fueled mostly by amazing vacation photos that pop up daily in my Facebook feed) and catastrophic worry about the possibility that the unpleasant situation I was dealing with would go on and on and on.

So I can’t tell you from my recent personal experience exactly how to practice mindfulness every minute of the day. But, what I can tell you is what I learned from the recent challenges.

  1. Small things aren’t as big as they can sometimes feel.  When you deal with something difficult, it can put everything in perspective. The truly important things rise to the surface.
  2. No feeling lasts forever (not the really good ones or even the really bad ones). I re-discovered the fact that if you can ride the wave of your moments – rough stuff will pass, there are respites, pockets where things are ok. Realizing this fact does make it easier to claim the less awesome moments.
  3. It is the range of experiences that brings a richness to life. The lowlights enable us to really appreciate the highlights.
  4. Challenging experiences, like laughter, connect us. The shared experience. The enduring together. The gratitude for being on the other side of it….all of these things strengthen the fabric of the connected relationships in our lives.

So, although I am counting the minutes to my next phase of awesome moments in which to showcase my mindfulness talents – I am stronger for the last two weeks and full of gratitude for all that is good in my life…

 

50 Favorite Words – # 9 Quest

11193259_1644788485752495_8484246335348647505_n-2quest noun \ˈkwest\
: a journey made in search of something
: a long and difficult effort to find or do something

I am on a quest. I am on a quest to feel good in my own skin. To be able to accurately give myself feedback, while taking in positives and successes.  To have the people in my life see the wonderful things in themselves and to feel confident, happy.

It seems silly that this would even be an issue.  But in reality, most people are quite unkind to themselves. 97% of women have negative body thoughts, daily.  The women who I work with, who I am friends with, and related to all share one thing in common. They speak to themselves in a way that would be absolutely unacceptable if we heard someone else say such things to them.  Not just about their bodies, but about all sorts of things. It’s not just women, many men who I work with and know have lots of unkind things to say to themselves as well.

In the field of psychology we know a lot about the relationship between attributions (what you say to yourself) and how you feel.  It is not surprising then, that lots of folks spend lots of time feeling not so hot.  The problem with a lot of negative attributions that people make is they feel true – when often they are just old and familiar and that makes them seem true.

What we need to do is learn how to write a new script.  For some folks, the negative self talk is sort of a reflex – but they know better.  If this is you, all you need to do is pay attention to what you are saying to yourself and when you hear the negative come in replace it with a positive (accurate) statement instead.

For people whose negative self talk is more entrenched (maybe an internalized voice of a critical parent; maybe the manifestation of anxiety or depression) this task is more challenging, but still doable. In these situations it can be hard to come up with the positive thought to replace the negative one.  If this is your situation, I invite you to ask 3 people who you love and respect to tell you their 3 favorite things about you. Then pick the thing that comes up the most or really resonates and have that be the replacement thought (it will be harder to discount since it came from someone who you respect and therefore must be quite wonderful and wise).

What if the first step was that simple? Today, decide to say something nice to yourself. Something small and true, but kind.  Say it over and over and over until you believe it. Tomorrow, do the same thing.  Each day, be on a quest to make the proportion of kind self-talk greater than the critical, harsh inner voice. Notice how much better you feel….