Two things to remember in life: Take care of your thoughts when you are alone and take care of your words when you are with people. – Unknown
Sometimes we cannot help but to be self saboteurs because thoughts can just sneak in to the front of our minds. The tough part is, if we are not fully prepared to deal with negativity or we are having a weak moment, these thoughts can impact our daily lives more then we’d like to admit. I am a firm believer in feeling what you are feeling. I want to live a life where, if I feel like laughing, I laugh and if I feel like crying, I allow myself to do so. But sometimes, there is a little wiggle room to control our thoughts in order to prevent mini-mental breakdowns through a week that tests us.
Here are some things I do to take care of my thoughts even when times get tough. More specifically, here are some thoughts I feel I deal with on a frequent basis and what I say to myself when they sneak in.
1. Peace Inhibitor: Push forward and don’t look back
“I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you are not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
Over the last few months I’ve learned change is okay and so is allowing yourself to feel. I caution you however, in those moments we allow ourselves to feel we must also leave some room for assessment. Assessment is so important. It brings us down to reality and gives us a chance to step outside our own body and mind for a moment and reflect on the situation. Assessment does not mean living in the past. By adding time for assessment we give ourselves the chance to learn from our experience and most important, about ourselves.
For example, I was going through a tough time in the fall. I felt like my whole world was crashing down around me and I felt vulnerable and alone. Those two words, “vulnerable” and “alone” forced me into a mind cage. I was constantly swimming in my own thoughts impermeable to the reality on my doorstep. I didn’t want to accept it. I gave myself time to feel but once I reached acceptance I was able to assess. Assessment gave me the opportunity to realize I am a different person now. Everything we go through in life whether it is positive or negative changes us into someone new. And most beautifully of all, sometimes these experiences show us who we were all along.
But it wasn’t until I was able to assess after that freed emotion that I was able to heal.
2. Peace Inhibitor: Shunning negative thoughts
“There is no greater wealth in this world than peace of mind.” ~Unknown
A common misconception – Shunning negative thoughts will help with my peace of mind. When I was feeling troubled I had frequent and ever changing bouts of anger, anxiety, loneliness and sadness. And during that time, I would try so hard to fight them off – failing often.
Feeling makes us human and not feeling makes us robots. Nerding out here a little, that is why Data in Startrek wanted to learn so badly. And also what Robin Williams character in Bicentennial man made him different from the regular robots. His ability to feel. We have emotions for a reason.
Avoiding negative emotions can just perpetuate them. We truly cannot move on or grow if we can’t realize and accept what has happened. I found meditation (with the app Headspace), writing it down and reading about others in a similar state to immensely help me.
3.Peace Inhibitor: Getting ahead in life is all that matters
This is one thought I am constantly combatting. I know it is important to make decisions in my twenties. After reading the book The Defining Decade this thought really hit home. The decisions we make now will impact the rest of our lives. But this doesn’t mean skipping out on all that life has to offer here and now.
Balance is so important to living a full, well-rounded life. Putting off family, friends and general pleasurable experiences can effect personal-relationships, physical health and your overall mental state. Yes, making decisions for your future career is important. And trust me, I know what sacrifice looks like when it comes to getting ahead. But, though I have already sacrificed a lot of time, I am learning to let go of some those “say yes to everything” moments in order to live my life outside of work.
I know having a healthy bottom line can help us with peace of mind. The concept of “success” has a different meaning to everyone. If I said to myself, I will only consider myself successful if I achieve the same fame as Beyoncé. Well, that would be absurd! Have a grasp on what means most to you and define realistic success and balance in your mind.
A successful life to me, has balance.
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4. Peace Inhibitor: I need to hold onto what has happened to me in the past to move forward
Truth is, you really don’t need to hold onto the past to move forward. We should definitely assess the past to see what we learned from it (in number 1). But, holding on to it actually does the exact opposite. I think it is fair to say we have all had our share of positive and negative moments.
But to be honest, life happens in the present. Whatever you can do to live in the present will help you appreciate what you have now.
5. Peace Inhibitor: I “should”…
I have learned over the past couple of months the word “should” has left my vocabulary. At work I have been working the overnight shift. Because of this I get home very late (or early, depends how you look at it) and that means I sleep during the morning hours. This has really played games with my mind.
I am a morning person, losing my mornings has been a challenge. But, your girl has to sleep sometime! And unfortunately I’m also someone who is good self-deprecating. After working a night shift I would wake up in the morning still feeling shame because I would say to myself, “shoot I should be up by now”. When in reality I had only gotten 7 hours sleep after pulling my night shift.
How ridiculous is that! Even though I knew I had worked and gotten a respectable, not glutinous amount of sleep, I still put this perception of shame on myself. And all of it stemmed from the word “should”. Whenever you catch yourself saying the word “should” to yourself replace it with the word “want”.
- I “should” be up right now despite getting the right amount of sleep and working through the night.
- I “want” to work hard and get a good sleep so I can be recharged for the next day.
Peace of mind starts with you and your thoughts. Once we take care of those and remove self-judgement we can live a life true to ourselves.
Achieving peace of mind is a never ending conscious effort. The tough part about it is, it’s not only about understanding what we should do, but also what to avoid doing. Help yourself by understanding some common misconceptions about peace of mind and bust out from them! I’m making a vow to continue to work on these things.