Recently, I came across an online article titled, “The Best Way to Rewire your Brain to Let Go of Negative Thoughts” , which caught my eye because I am all about chasing mindsets, especially my own.
It was based on a Tedx video by Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist who had always wondered why the mind swayed to the negative. She said "she even noticed it herself when she was publishing papers; when her paper got rejected, it still weighed on her mind even after a different paper was rejected.”
And this is what she said, we should do:
- Start a Gratitude Journal
- Practice Sharing Good News
- Stop Complaining
When I first read her solution, I said to myself - "I don’t need a pyschological degree to figure that out.” Subconsciously I didn’t shut her down completely because if I know it, why am I NOT doing it?
This week especially I have been dealing with a lot negativity from the home front.
First off, I was surprised because I broke down one night. Breaking down meaning gut-wrenching-body-hunched-over-sobs-unable-breathe...aahhh!!
In the past, I wouldn’t have reacted if someone had said something negative to me, knowingly or unknowingly, and I would try to justify their actions and their words. T has taken me out of negative situations, not once but twice, when he felt that that person was saying something hurtful. Honestly I was just "you know, it’s ok. It doesn’t bother me!”, as I did not want to kick up a fuss.
What I am trying to figure out NOW is WHY am I so “slow” in realising the negative impact of what is being said to me? Perhaps I didn't want to appear too sensitive? Or I wanted to show that I am strong? Or Both. I had breakdowns in the past, if you had read my other blogposts, but that was awhile ago.
As they say sticks and stones will not break your bones, but words will never hurt you unless you make them mean something.
I know now that I was emotional because I am becoming more aware of my feelings as a result of the work I've done in Baptiste yoga. I am discovering that I have developed a internal defence mechanism, like a blind acceptance, which allowed the negative and hurtful words to whizz past me.
I was called a lot of names when I was younger because of my "flat nose" like “Prata Face”; “Pancake face” , "what happened to your nose?"; "Piggy" etc.
In the beginning, I laughed it off. I pretended that the words did not hurt me and I make a joke of myself instead. Inwardly I was hurt and sad. I became self-conscious about my face; I walked sideways or have my face turned away whenever I passed by a group of people. I felt ugly and unwanted. I was determined that when I got older, I was going to get my nose fixed. Thus this started my insecurities and my concern to look good.
As a result of this and many other past experiences, it’s no wonder I’ve become blasé and numb that I do not know how to react when something negative has been said. And so I pretend that I’m ok, I’m above everything else.
I am getting present to the reality that right now, I have been setting myself up to receive bad news and created a default filter of “I don’t care what you say" .
But I do really care, and you hurt me.
It hurts when people say mean things to you, even when they mean well. I'm grappling with the idea, they are the sort who won't mince their words, who will go straight to the point, but some perhaps are like me - blasé but to the end of the spectrum, unaware of the impact of the words they say. Or it could be a "Singaporean Auntie" syndrome (no filters at all when they speak)
What I really need to do is to practice to not hide behind my filter, and say what I feel. Even if it's awkward, even if they don't accept it - just get uncomfortable with not knowing, just Be.
Re-reading the tools that Alison has given above, it's clear what I need to do. I’ve recreated it to make it more authentic to me and hopefully, it'll be for you as well.
5 POWERFUL WAYS TO CREATE POSITIVITY IN YOUR LIFE
1) START A JOURNALING PRACTICE........ And start with a Gratitude Practice
When I was younger, I used to have a diary, where I wrote all my deepest thoughts. And the need to write just dissipated over the years.
I picked up journalling (aka writing in my diary) in my late 30s as I was following Robin Sharma at that time, who said "when you start recording gratitude in your journal, everything becomes a miracle. And everyday becomes a blessing.” So I started with a gratitude journal because it seemed easier and I wanted to be happier.
With the work I'm doing with Baptiste Yoga, my journal became my sanctuary for my thoughts, my worries, my discoveries and my dreams.
If you have never journaled before or you are not sure how to start, I’d suggest writing a gratitude list daily for next 21 days, so you’ll get into a habit (as it's been proven that it takes 21 days to create a habit).
START WITH "I'M GRATEFUL FOR......"
2) BE IN CELEBRATION EVERYDAY And Practice Sharing Good News
I've been asking myself this question everyday:
WHAT CAN I CELEBRATE TODAY?
Not because of this article, but I wanted to have the same feeling I have when I'm holiday, carefree and happy. Yet I know, coming home equals reality, family, work / money stress etc; but what if I find one thing that has happened or is going to happen to celebrate?
And celebration = good news! And so you should care good things out. If you don’t share the joy, it wont mean anything.
Like I am celebrating that "I’ve pooped twice today” - and that news was shared generously too, much to the detriment of T. (what’s wrong with talking about poop lar?)
3) STOP COMPLAINING
I was told this story recently of a strange human phenomenon -
If a person comes through the door, with his head down and looking sad; he say he's tired; most people would think that’s normal because “life is hard”. But if another person comes up to you - dancing and being happy, you will think that person is weird.
We are so good at complaining; woe is me, that we seek a camaraderie in our sufferings. it has become the norm.
Baron says your words make your world.
What if we stop complaining and start celebrating? Start practising gratitude.
For sure there’s going to be ups and downs in life, but can you celebrate both the downs (will will create personal growth) and the ups (which gives joy)?
LET'S PRACTICE GETTING GOOD AT CELEBRATING!
4) FORGIVE YOURSELF
Be a yes to forgiving yourself, let go of the fear of being judged, that you are ready now to accept the person/situation as they are.
The reality is even if we work to change ourselves, the environment has not changed. We could choose to get out of the “fixed” environment, or we could learn to forgive.
You are not the first and not the only one in this situation.
Forgiveness lightens the soul.
FORGIVE YOURSELF SO YOU CAN CREATE SPACE TO SEE NEW POSSIBILITIES IN YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
5) FEEL WHATEVER YOU ARE FEELING-
Be sad, be happy, be angry. Just Feel.
Yes we are supposed to be in celebrate, to be positive, but we should deny our sadness. Sadness may not neccesarily equal to negativity. It is an emotion that we tend to squelch and hid behind bouts of anxiety or anger. And that over the years, made me numb.
Acknowledge your feelings.
Just be a human be-ing and BE!
I’ll leave you with this quote I found on “Lessons Taught by Life”