In my last post, I wrote about the power of storytelling. Stories help convey our values, purpose and brand. But what happens when that oh so powerful story is a lie we repeat to ourselves often?
Much like fairy tales, our personal narratives were constructed at an early age, whether we believe it or not. The people closest to us helped to develop these stories, both positive and negative, that we end up carrying with us through life. So, if you were told you weren’t good enough your entire childhood, chances are you’ve carried that baggage with you through adulthood.
Another thought is that we may have perceived situations as children and translated them into negative stories about ourselves. The mother who was tough on her kids was merely preparing them for life’s challenges versus how a teenager might have perceived this tough love. Either way, the stories we tell ourselves can both help and harm us in the long run.
For me, the stories I create in my head are absolutely dramatizations of reality. I’m still trying to figure out why this is. I’m assuming it has something to do with my personal triggers. Triggers are scenarios that prompt an emotional response. Note: this emotional response can be extremely positive or extremely negative. Triggers, much like personal stories, are deeply rooting in your past experiences.
I tend to obsess about certain situations, then create a false story in my head that in turn solicits an emotional response. See what kind of chain reaction I have going on here? It’s not healthy or sustainable. I’m working on it but am finding it’s really hard for me stop the whirling in my head. The good news is I’m starting to recognize when I’m giving in to this behavior, so that’s step one. Here’s what I’ve been attempting to do when I know I’m obsessing, lying and reacting.
- Recognize that I’m obsessing and creating a false story about a particular situation
- Take a deep breath to calm myself down and pull myself out of the emotional reaction I’m having
- Think about what actually happened versus what I perceived
- Put myself in the other person’s shoes: could something have triggered them that then caused a chain reaction?
- Ask myself: will this matter tomorrow, next month or next year? This one is especially helpful in keeping things in perspective.
I am certainly a work in progress, but have found these steps helpful. What kinds of stories do you tell yourself? Do any illicit an emotional response and how do you manage that? Share with me!
I started January 2015 with a brand new planner, a series of written-out resolutions and a game plan to make this year the best one yet. Full of good intentions, I resurrected my workout routine and meal prepping, determined to be healthier and happier in 2015.
Then, two weeks into this glorious new year, my world was turned upside down. A loved one passed away. Unfortunately, I know I’m not the first one to experience this and certainly won’t be the last. No matter how much you prepare, even the most type-A person doesn’t know what to do. Plans go out the window. You forgot what the word routine even means. You’re frozen, paralyzed with a variety of emotions, unsure of how to get yourself unstuck. It’s a very weird place to be.
So you go through the motions, you say goodbye, then you’re left at home with more food and flowers than Whole Foods. Now what? Yeah, I can’t answer that question for you. I barely can answer it for myself. The few things I do know include:
- You have to grieve. That’s going to look different for each person. But cry if you need to, yell if you must. Go through pictures and talk about your loved one. Do whatever you need to so you can accept this loss.
- Listen to your body. True, there is some level of forcing yourself out of the rut you’re in, but your body will tell you what it needs. After a week of Italian cold cuts, my body told me to find a salad!
- It’s going to look different for each person. When a loved ones dies, those who remain will react in a variety of ways. No two reactions are going to be the same. Just like you have to grieve, so does everyone else.
- It’s ok to be upside down. Literally, that’s how I’ve felt the last couple of weeks. My mind would wander, I’d experience a wave of emotions all at once. For me, this is not how I operate. I have a schedule, a plan, for each day. Going rouge is not my thing. But, this is a traumatic experience, so I gave myself the permission to go off the grid. This is not an everyday occurrence, so your everyday gameplay won’t work.
I think I’m back to normal. I feel better than I did a week ago and assume I’ll feel even better in a month. This is the new normal and accepting that is the only way to move forward. Having concrete routines in place before all of this did help get me back on track. More about the importance of routines and how to develop them in my next post!
If you live anywhere on the east coast, lately you’ve experienced crazy thunderstorms complete with heavy rain, bright strikes of lightening and overall miserable conditions. It’s hard when it’s gloomy out to keep a positive attitude, much like it’s hard to be happy when life throws you curve balls. How do you keep moving forward when life drags you down?
Recently, I saw a quote that read, “Happiness is a choice, choice it.” Even when life downright sucks and nothing is going right, we all have the ability to choose to be happy. We can make the decision to see the glimmers of hope instead of being negative. I can attest that it is extremely difficult to stay positive, to look at the glass half full. I’ve been trying hard lately to stay positive through some challenging family situations that I could allow to affect my happiness. But what good does that do for anyone involved if I’m miserable?
When things don’t go right, absolutely allow yourself the momentary second (or more) to grieve, be angry, cry or feel bad for yourself. All of those emotions are probably valid and totally normal. But don’t get stuck there! Despite your hard situation, it could always be much worse. The situation that provides the most discomfort will be the one that teaches you the most.
You might have seen my post about Zumba and how it’s changed my life. Dancing and music have amazing benefits to both people’s physical and mental health. Next time life brings you down, find your favorite song and dance it out. You might need a couple of songs to cheer you up but I promise it will. I also suggest singing at the top of your lungs while dancing.
Below is a song from the musical Wicked titled Dancing Through Life. All of the characters face different obstacles but the song, sung by the charming Fiyero, proclaims “It’s just life, so keep dancing through.” Sometimes bad things happens that shake us to our core, but that’s no reason to stop dancing! No one said it would be easy, but it will be worth it.
It looks like Thursdays are quickly becoming Truth Challenge days. I can promise you it is totally by accident! So let’s get to it, here is the eighth prompt of the challenge:
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
I don’t like calling people out, especially on a public forum like a blog. But, this is a truth challenge so I’ll answer the question without using any names. My family has gone through hell in the last year because of addiction. It’s one of those situations that you think will never happen to your family until it does. Until the day when your 7 and 8-year-old siblings are put at risk, when the police show up to your house and when you realize that person you love so much is gone forever. No matter what happens, that person is changed by their addiction.
The stress and anguish my family has gone through in the last year is insane. The tension in some instances is palpable and some of the people I love the most won’t even sit in the same room together. It’s a hard pill to swallow: you want to be so angry with the addict but also must somehow understand that this person is sick. Their brain is controlled by drugs and the ramifications can be felt long after the user becomes clean. In the last year, there were moments that felt like hell on Earth. Thankfully, things have improved but so much damage has been done that some relationships will be forever tarnished.
For so long, I was searching for a reason as to why all of this happened. Fingers could be pointed at a lot of people. We could all play the blame game for hours. But, the one person responsible won’t admit to their shortcomings or problems. Everyone else doesn’t hold this individual accountable so fight after fight ensues and more damage is done.
As always, I managed to find a song that I can relate to. In this case, P!nk’s Just Give Me A Reason speaks volumes. While my situation doesn’t involve a romantic relationship, the song searches for a reason as to why things changed and the love went away. I pray every night that we are not broken just bent. Have a listen to get a better understanding of what I’m saying.