5 Reasons: Positivity Matters – Be Kind to Yourself

THE HARDESTPositivity and self kindness are qualities I feel our society often lacks. We tend to want to drive to the furthest reaches of success and accomplishment and often don’t take the time to see what we have left in the wake. Unfortunately for us as individuals the people getting the harshest put downs, criticism and being sliced up with negative vibes are ourselves.

Like negativity, positivity is something that grows. It is up to us as individuals to make decisions that will help promote happiness or sadness, anger or elation, contentment or envy. With it being spring and nature encouraging us to clean up, turn a new leaf and move forward I thought it would be timely to talk about cleaning up our thoughts. So here are 5 reasons why turning to the positive is such an awesome thing to try and do:

  1. “Whether you believe you can or you cannot you are correct”. I heard this statement in a yoga class one day and it resonated in me so much that it is now over a year later and I still know it to be true. For me what this statement is saying is that you decide, you can tell yourself over and over again you are not going to be able to run a 10k, can’t clean up your eating, etc. OR you can tell yourself that you can complete a 10k, that changing your eating habits might be a challenge but attainable. It is all about mindset, if you set yourself up for failure before you even get going how can you expect to envision success.
  2. We are often harshest with our words/actions/thoughts when it comes to ourselves. I believe we often look outwards for kind words and actions, and we take the time to send our own positive words and actions out to others without taking a moment to do so for ourselves. It can take time to cultivate our own positive voice but it is our responsibility to find that voice for ourselves, unfortunately this isn’t something we can contract out.
  3. How we talk to ourselves can be a stressor. We all live in a world where our calendars are jam packed with work commitments, family obligations, exercise, meal prep time, finding our own leisure time, volunteer work, etc. When you add negative affirmations on top of all of that we are unknowingly elevating our stress levels. Sometimes telling ourselves that it is okay to commit to doing nothing or okay to say no to things without shame or negative sentiment is all our mind, body and soul needs to release a little bit of that stress.
  4. It guides our perception of our lives. How we describe our life events, recall our past, how we interpret day to day happenings all affect our overall perception of our lives. Because something bad has happened does not mean you have a bad life, it means there has been a bad moment. Of course feel how you are feeling, but then try and find your happiness again, don’t let those negative, stressful, dramatic, traumatic, irritating moments define your life. You get to define your life.
  5. It opens you up to possibilities: Positivity is something we all have, some of us might have a lot some of us might have a little, the amount we have is often dictated by life events and how we perceive the world around us but the amount of positivity we own is never set in stone. Like most things in life it is up to us to define how things can and will be (see #4), allowing yourself to see the positive in even the most shitty (excuse my language) situations simply helps you to build your ability to perceive things in a positive light. As I write this I have to laugh, because finding the positive in things isn’t always my strong suit, my big sister is ridiculously good at this and sometimes it irritates me at how effortlessly she can find the positive in (what feels like) everything! The more I watch her and others find even the smallest silver lining I am always amazed, and encouraged to continue to work on this for myself.

gingersneezes.comNow that you know why being positive is so important maybe some homework? Let’s make this something where turn all of our frowns upside down, and help infect others with our community of positive people. I challenge everyone to be kind to themselves and find their positive; maybe the next time you catch yourself rolling over to the dark side, so to speak, you then take the time to write out three complements about yourself. The next time something irritating happens instead of throwing your arms up in despair take a moment to find one positive in the situation.

Fear

I think I have briefly touched on this subject before while quoting Elanor Roosevelt, but I don’t think I have yet to approach it in this manner.
eleanor-roosevelt_imageLately, I have been taking a lot of steps towards positive change in my life, however for the past little while it seemed spread out you know with time for everything to sink in. Now all of a sudden I am feeling like all of these small steps have come to a front and “it” is all happening now. This isn’t a bad thing, it is just a thing and if anything it is good. However, like most people although I can verbalize that I am excited for positive change, when it starts to happen it can be overwhelming, intimidating and frightening.

fear  Collage

Sometimes when I start to feel intimidated like this I look for inspirational or motivational words on the internet.  During this search I have found multiple motivational images about missed opportunities and fear and I always seem to have the same reaction and unfortunately it isn’t “hell ya I have this covered”.  I then look to my support system hoping that they will say something that takes away my fear, and I am then surrounded with such positivity and encouragement that I end up stopping dead in my tracks and thinking  “what the hell is your problem?

And here we are now, stuck on this question of “what the hell is your problem?” This is generally where I start blaming fear because blaming my lack of confidence on fear is, dare I say it, easier. After this wonderful cycle of blame I still end up in the same place I started, with a big bucket of fear and wondering what to do with it. So I have been thinking, writing it out, weighing it out and thinking some more. How do I get back on track? How do I stop being so freaked out by potential failure or success? (yes both are equally terrifying to me for some reason). At the end of all this thinking and writing things out I have landed on the conclusion that I really have no idea what to do but I developed some guidelines that I am hoping will help me to find my answer.

Guidelines to get myself over this fear hump:

1. Stop telling myself to “suck it up” – starting an internal dialogue with something that self-threatening doesn’t solve anything, other than to give air to the fire.  It only serves to stir up more negative emotions, and doesn’t help to hop you over the fence to a more positive stream of thought.

2. Explore the fear but don’t let it guide my actions – It is healthy to explore what is scaring you, why it is and what are some triggers.   Knowing these things can help you understand why you react the way you do and my hope is that from knowing this I will be able to move forward and better address these fears in the future.

3. Take Action – I believe I have mentioned this before, but when I feel overwhelmed my first instinct is to do nothing, dig in, hide out, and just get cozy on the couch, normally followed by a hefty serving of over eating. So I figure doing the opposite will help me to get out of “ruts” and overcome or manage fears.  This guideline will take a lot of work, and a lot of willpower but in the end I know it will be beneficial.

4. Be positive – Writing this one down makes me roll my eyes a bit only because it seems so obvious.  But when you are stressing out or stuck in your fear looking for the positive and believing the positive often feels next to impossible.

a6aaa6612fcad8dc00787ad84672cc2aI am hoping that these four guidelines will help me get out of this “you just turned 30, went back to school and are trying to start a new career” freakout funk and allow me to start putting my energy into a more productive place like school work, nutrition, relationships, physical activities, continuing my education, and being productive.

Do you have any tips or tricks that you do when you are feeling particularly overwhelmed by small or huge life style changes?

Happy Thursday…wow totally thought it was Wednesday!

How Yoga Recused me from my Perception of Self

I came up with the idea of this post this morning while I was getting ready for my day checking myself out in the mirror.  Now I am not sure if I am like most women, girls, humans out there, but I like to think I am not alone in my self-doubt and self-criticism.   I know in the past I have spoken about my journey (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3) to health and fitness, and my struggles with self and success in the past, but I really feel that this topic is something that should be discussed.  I think discussing these topics helps to deconstruct the myth of the straight line to success, success is often ends up looking more like a ball of knotted yarn than an arrow.  20131130-081702.jpgOften times we brush off our hard work and automatically think “well it could be this” or worse “it should be this”.  Instead of being happy and grateful for all that we have done and how far we have come, we stand in front of the mirror and criticize the pocket of fat here and the lack of muscle definition there.  It seems that we (maybe I should just say I) are too willing to criticize over praising or celebrating and it isn’t until very recently that I actually realized this.

I would often tell myself that my inner criticism was what made me better, it helped to motivate me and kept me focused.  Unfortunately for me this wasn’t really how this negative inner dialogue actually panned out.  I am not saying that it isn’t important to strive to be your best you, I am just saying I have realized that it can be done in a much more loving way and that that best you has absolutely nothing to do with your thigh gap, number on a scale or flatness of your stomach.

But how did yoga rescue me from this negative internal dialogue? Great question!  As many of you know, if you have been reading this blog for some time, I have practiced yoga for years and am now a certified Yoga instructor.  Yoga has long been a part of my life, first being about fitness, rehabilitation and stretching.  Then turning into a moment of relaxation for myself, and eventually morphing into one of the happy places I would escape to after particularly grueling days in the office.

Through my own experience in practicing yoga I have found that yoga means something very different to every single person that practices.  It could be about exercise for you, or stretching, or part of your physical or emotional rehabilitation. This is one of the great thing about yoga, it is what you need it to be when you need it to be “that”.   It is the fluidity of yoga that opened my mind up the opportunity of self-exploration.

20131128-101345.jpgOver the past year I have worked and I have worked hard to slim down, get healthy, get strong, get flexible and to really like and appreciate myself.  What I found was that although I had become stronger and had given away all of my larger sized clothing my perception of self didn’t make the same strides. I mean I knew I was stronger and was proud of that and I knew I had slimmed down, but it was as though my brain hadn’t really caught up with my body.

This was most apparently when I went shopping.  I still gravitated towards baggier clothing (despite the urging from my trainer to just buy myself a tight fitting shirt, thank you Alannah I finally came around.) I would try pants on for hours and come out with one pair MAYBE and I am going to be really honest here I have yet to replace even a quarter of the clothing I gave away back in April.  I keep saying it is because I am trying to save money, but it is really because I was having a hard time not seeing my old body while attempting to put on these new “tight” fitting clothing.

before and after.Yoga helped me to slow down and discover myself.  Oh my goodness that sounds so cheesy, but yes that is exactly what happened.  Yoga gave me the opportunity to allow my brain to check in with my body and to 1) realize there has been significant change; and     2) be grateful, appreciative and loving towards all the work that my body and mind have done not only in the past but also on a regular basis.

Maybe this is what people call self-actualization, all I know is that yoga has helped me to slow down and allow myself the time to appreciate what my body gives me every day. It has helped me to take that extra second to stop and say something nice to myself instead of instinctively going to a negative place. I am sure there will always be things in my life that I will want to better and change and progress in, what I am saying is that the desire and motivation to move forward needs to come from a positive place. A place where instead of saying “I should be better” I stop and say “you are doing great lets try it this way next time“.

Basically what I am saying is yoga has helped give me the space to start understanding the body mind connection.  It has also helped me to understand that it is about loving and appreciating your body every step of the way.  Always strive for your goals, and push yourself to be successful but using love and encouragement to get you there will likely generate longer lasting more positive results.

So that is how yoga helped to give me the space to create perspective and helped to rescue me from my own self perception.