We all go through hard times and we all face things we fear. We’re human and it’s in our biological makeup to have fears. We wouldn’t survive past the toddler years if we didn’t have that instinct. So we’re not getting rid of fear and worries. We’re always told “have a nice day,” or happy this and happy that. Sometimes we just aren’t feeling that way and I think the problem might not be: “why aren’t you happy,” rather, “why aren’t you OK with not being happy.”
Stop for a second and become aware of what’s really going on in your head…..
You may have heard: “This is a real load of crap why am I reading this,” or “I really should be doing those dishes right now,” or any number of thoughts that might pull you away from really gaining insight and connecting deeply with yourself. Or in other words, negative thoughts! Don’t feel alone, everyone has them and if you listen regularly you will hear these thoughts A LOT.
Now this is the important thing to remember: DO NOT FEEL BAD ABOUT HAVING NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. This is our human condition. We all suffer from it. Our brains will tell us there’s no hope, we aren’t doing a good enough job, why did we do this instead of that, you cannot live with the way things are, why can’t things be better, because of x, y, and z I can’t be happy (there’s that word again).
Here’s the trick: breathe, accept what’s happening, insert grateful commentary, make a change if necessary. In that order. Think of your brain as a small child. Completely separate from yourself and the judgement you normally put yourself through. When your brain says “I’m the worst, I can’t even get the motivation to clean my bathroom,” or insert whatever badgering thought you tell yourself, stop and say “OK, but I did just have a great conversation on the phone with a friend instead,” or insert whatever positive thing you’ve done that day. The point is, you have to breathe and have patience with the fact that your brain is having negative thoughts, accept that this is a normal human condition, insert something positive to counter the negative, and then go do that thing!
What are your thoughts now? “This is too much work,” “This won’t work,” “My brain doesn’t have negative thoughts.” That’s your brain being negative again. Now say this: “Brain, I recognize your function to help me communicate, navigate, and survive, I am making a conscience effort to think positively instead of feeling worried or negative.” Now, tell yourself 3 things you are grateful for in your life (it’s also very helpful to write them out). I have the ability to walk, to talk, to read, to eat. These are basic abilities to us, but the reality is that some people don’t have these privileges that we take for granted. Maybe you have more things to be grateful for than you even realized!
I think we often get intimidated or we think we can’t help ourselves because we’re too bad off or maybe you think nothing is wrong. However, we are all suffering at times, if you truly look inside you’ll see it. You just have to be more aware of what your thoughts are saying. The cool part about it is that you can do this exercise at anytime and any place and you can start right now!
When you start reversing your thoughts and being your brains cynic, you might become frustrated at how often you have negative thoughts. “Why am I always having negative thoughts,” “Will you just shut up!” Recognize this as your brain being a toddler again and say “OK brain, I know there’s no getting rid of the negative thoughts you bring me sometimes, I am going to have patience and acceptance of you.” Then, shed some light on the situation.
The more you have this inner dialogue with yourself, the more you will see the patterns you have. When certain triggers arise, a barrage of negative thoughts might come. If your bill payment was processed before your paycheck was deposited and you were over-drafted, you might have negative thoughts about your income and you will start to think about how this may have happened in the past and it’s only going to happen again. These are helpless thoughts. As you learn your patterns better you’ll be able to deflect and replace these negative or helpless thoughts sooner. In this case, you can repeat the sequence: breathe, accept, be positive, and then change what’s not working for you. You can actively do something to increase your income; find a better job, start a side business, or work on the weekend. There is always another way to look at the difficulties you face. If the problem is negatively affecting your life you have a choice to make; either see the silver lining of the situation or change the situation, but staying on the wheel of negativity isn’t helpful.
Your brain is an organ and it needs to be handled with care like we handle the rest of our body. When we eat a lot of unhealthy foods we tend to not feel so great, we maybe don’t sleep good, it can affect our stomach, or disease can set in. The same goes for our brains. We have to put the positive energy in to make our brains more peaceful. It doesn’t mean we feel happy all the time, it just means we are at peace with how our brain handles situations and we put our focus into finding gratitude, acceptance of difficult situations, and resolve to change the situations that aren’t beneficial to us.
So, the next time someone tells you to “have a nice day,” you can respond with, “I will tell my brain regularly what is nice about my day, thank you, same to you!”