I used to hate Mondays. No, I mean, REALLY hate Mondays. Actually it wasn’t just Mondays, I used to get that sinking feeling during Sunday evenings too. I just couldn’t seem to get my start-of-the-week sparkle on. Do you know what I’m talking about? It is a truly miserable feeling and a terrible way to start your week.
Then something changed.
I watched the movie Fight Club.
Now I don’t know whether a movie can really change your life but this one certainly had a huge impact on mine.
Yes, it’s true that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for Brad Pitt and I love slightly dark, off-the-wall indie style films but that isn’t it. What I really love about Fight Club is the screenplay. There is a particularly poignant quote written by the amazing Chuck Palahniuk and spoken by the lead character, Edward Norton part way through the movie and it stops me in my tracks every time I hear it. It’s a quote I’ve seen on t-shirts, posters and even once written on a bathroom wall.
‘This is your life and it’s ending one moment at a time’
About eighteen months ago those words really hit me hard. They suddenly resonated with me in a way they never had before and I had a total ‘carpe diem’ moment (yes, Dead Poets Society is another of my favorite movies – Google it!) Which brings me back to you. If you allow yourself to really think about that quote, you will come to realize that every single moment of your life is incredibly precious. You only get one shot, this isn’t a rehearsal and you owe it to yourself to make each day as good as it possibly can be.
POSITIVE MINDSET? YEAH RIGHT
Do you roll your eyes big time when people say things like: ‘have a positive mindset’ or ‘just be more positive’? Yep. I did too. In fact I would get quite irritated and feel that they didn’t know what they were talking about. But not anymore. How you choose to see your life has a huge impact on how you feel. Perspective is everything. We all have bad days and we all have problems, right? But if you only focus on those negative things, soon they will become all you can see.
Maybe you are reading this and thinking ‘yes, that’s me’. Or maybe you can’t relate to those feelings but you’d just like to have a more positive outlook and don’t know how to get there. Whatever position you are in, I’ve got three tricks up my sleeve to help you. I firmly believe that you can achieve your desired mental outlook as long as you have the correct roadmap to follow. It isn’t easy to change bad habits you have spent a long time reinforcing but if you put the following techniques into practice in your life, I guarantee that you will see an improvement in how you think about yourself and your day. It’s time for you to take control back. It’s time to push Negative Nancy out of the back door and get your positive mo-jo on.
NEW MINDSET: NEW YOU
#1 TALKING TO YOURSELF DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE CRAZY … NO SERIOUSLY!
I want you to realize how strong your internal dialogue is. You talk to yourself all of the time. I don’t mean in a weird old lady looking after thirty cats kind of way – although I have been known to mutter to myself out loud fairly often so I’m probably in no position to judge. But, no, I’m talking about the thoughts and mini-conversations that constantly run through your head.
According to psychologist, Dr Linda Sapadin, talking to yourself is really important. It helps you to clear your thoughts and assists with making important and difficult decisions. With this in mind, what are you saying to yourself? If you forget something or make a mistake, do you call yourself an idiot? Do you sometimes tell yourself that you are stupid or dumb for messing something up? Well it’s time for that to stop my friend.
Speak to yourself with respect and kindness. Stop beating yourself up whenever you make a mistake or if things don’t go quite right. Try this technique the next time you hear yourself over-criticizing or flooding your mind with negative thoughts:
- Be conscious and aware of the negative thoughts. Listen to them and acknowledge them.
- See them as being separate from you. Like an outsider speaking to you.
- Consciously make a counter argument – think of something positive.
- Focus on the positive thought and move on.
Negative thought: I’m so stupid because I forgot my Mom’s birthday. She’ll be really upset. I’ve made her so sad and she’ll never forgive me.
Acknowledgement: Yes, I made a mistake. I’m human and I mess up sometimes.
Positive thought: There is nothing I can do to change this, I am not stupid. I will send a gift to my Mom and make a call. I’ll explain how busy I’ve been and apologize, she will forgive me because she loves me. This is not so bad. We can get past this. I am not going to keep criticizing myself because I made a mistake. I will do the best I can to put it right and that is enough.
By acknowledging the negative thing that has happened you are able to make a counter-argument and move forward. The old you would perhaps have focused on the negative part of the dialogue. You would have spent all day feeling bad and mentally reinforcing the fact that ‘you are stupid’. Think about how damaging it would be if you told someone all day long that you thought they were stupid. Would you do this to someone you love – to a friend, to your partner, to your child? The idea is horrifying, right? Don’t do it to yourself.
The new you is able to take the conversation to a positive place and move forward.
#2 START EACH DAY WITH A POSITIVE RITUAL
How do you you start your day? Let me tell you, I am not naturally a morning person. My family will reliably inform you that growing up, no-one wanted to be the one to come into my bedroom to wake me. I think they said it was like disturbing a sleeping bear but they do exaggerate a lot so, anyway, whatever, back to the blog.
Do you have a friend who does nothing but moan?
You know who I’m talking about, that person who always sees the negative in EVERYTHING. I want you to think about them now. I’m going to call mine moany-Joany (she isn’t actually called Joan by the way – hi Joan if you’re reading – it’s not you!) Can you picture that person in your head? How do you feel when you are around them? Drained, bored, irritated, depressed?
Don’t be your own miserable friend!
If you start your day moaning and groaning about how tired and busy you are or about your job or about how hard your life is – STOP – you are setting yourself up for a bad day. You have already decided before you turn back the bedsheets that your life sucks and you are going to have an uphill struggle just to make it to sundown. It’s much better to start your day by thinking about the great things in your life.
Every life coach will talk to you about starting each day with intent or affirmations and I’m no different but I will stress that you need to find a morning routine that works for you. Affirmations don’t work for everyone so here are 6 ideas for creating positive rituals to start your day:
- Journalling. This can be cool to do because it kinda makes you feel like you are a 13 year old at Summer camp. You write down your thoughts and feelings and it helps set you up for day by venting your frustrations and stating all the things you want to achieve. You can also do little drawings and write poems or short stories. It’s very much a creative outlet and it will be good for you if you love writing and drawing and find it easier to express yourself using storytelling rather than by using bold statements of fact.
- Gratitude journal. This is the adult’s version of journalling. You write down 3-10 things you are grateful for and really think about them and appreciate them. This is good if you are someone who has a tendency to dwell on the negative side of things. It is a very positive activity and reminds you of everything that is good in your life.
- Statements of intent (or goal setting). This process requires you to set your intentions for the day or week. You make strong ‘I will’ statements and focus on being determined to carry them out.
- Affirmations. (My favorite.) These are personal statements similar to intentions but you are focusing more on your positive qualities, for example, you might write down 3 things you love about yourself, or 3 strengths you have. Affirmations are mostly ‘I am..’ statements. Again you meditate on these and enjoy them. These are effective if you are prone to criticizing yourself or have low self-esteem.
- Create an inspiring playlist. Listening to music, especially through headphones can really put you in a positive frame of mind when you wake up. It’s also pretty versatile as you can change your playlist regularly. Here is an example playlist of 50 songs to make you feel happy!
- Doing a physical workout. If you equate physical strength with mental strength, this is the one for you. Start your day by firing your endorphins. There’s nothing quite like vigorous physical exercise followed by a hot shower. Here is a link to my Pinterest board of workouts.
Woah! You just got way too touchy-feely for me kiddo …
If you have been reading down this list and thinking ‘there’s no way I’m writing any of my feelings down where just anyone can see them’: RELAX. You don’t have to write anything down if it makes you feel uncomfortable. You can think your intentions or affirmations while you are taking a shower, or while you are at a stop light or while you are sitting on the toilet (yes, I went there!)
You don’t need a fancy new notebook to start your day in a positive way. It’s the discipline of setting 15-45 minutes aside each morning that’s important. The ritual you choose is up to you. You just need to try to find something to give your morning a great kick start and to put a gag on moany-Joany.
#3 LET IT GO
I’m so sorry because I know you are going to have that song in your head all day now but these three little words are super powerful.
I hate to be the one to break it to you but you are human and you mess up.
Nothing drags your day down more than those little (or big) mistakes that follow you around whispering in your ear, telling you what a terrible person you are.
Do yourself a favor.
Let your mistakes go.
I know what you are thinking at this point, you’re thinking ‘well, it’s so easy for you to say because you don’t know how awful some of the mistakes are’ and you’re absolutely right.
But what I do know is that those mistakes will follow you around like a clingy toxic friend if you let them, whispering in your ear and totally draining you of your sparkle. Do you really want to give your mistakes that much power over you?
Mistakes that happen, ‘in the moment’, for example, little slip-ups at work, forgetting to pack your daughter’s swimming bag (guilty) etc should be dealt with in that moment. Use your positive mind techniques from #1 to have a positive internal dialogue and let them go. Do not wander around all day beating yourself up.
What about those other mistakes though? The ones you made some time ago but never really dealt with. Or the ones that have really caused some damage to your career or relationships. Those suckers can sometimes be a little more tricky to make ‘disappear’.
Firstly, accept your mistake. Whatever method you choose, you must acknowledge the error you have made and own it. You did this. It’s done and it can’t be undone.
Once you have acknowledged your mistake you can move forward. Here are some simple ideas, both practical and mental, to help prevent your mistakes from stealing your joy:
- Write what happened on a piece of paper. Say goodbye to it and burn it. Let it go.
- If you feel as though you have wronged someone in some way, confront them and apologize. How they react is not your problem. You have done the right thing by confronting your mistake and now you can let it go. It’s NEVER too late to say you are sorry.
- Use the positive mind technique from #1 to have an internal dialogue about your issue and to move forward.
- Compensation and reparation: pay your mistake back/make your wrong right. Do a good deed for someone and recognize that you are capable of making great decisions as well as not-so-great ones. Turn your mistake into an opportunity to do something positive.
- Talk to someone you love and respect. Tell them how you feel and let them support you. You may find that they offer a different perspective that can help you.
- Meditation exercise. This may work if you are really struggling to let go of a particular problem or come to terms with a mistake. Imagine you are standing the edge of a cliff. You are holding on to your problem tightly in your hand. Think about your problem, visualize it, see it in your hands. When you are ready reach your hands out over the edge and let your problem fall. Visualize it falling out of your view. Believe it is out of your life. If you prefer to use a guided meditation, try this.
So, have you spotted a theme yet?
What do all of these things have in common?
All of these techniques are designed to boost your self-esteem, self-belief and free you from negative thoughts that hold you back.
If you believe you have value … you have value! These techniques also ask you to start paying attention more. Pay attention to how you think, act and behave.
A new habit takes 66 days to really take hold. I’ve said this before and I will say it over and over. If you want to make a lifestyle change you have to be prepared to put in some time and effort. I do promise you this, however, if you start using these methods regularly, you will start to have a much more positive mindset.
Are you ready?
It’s time to get your start-of-the-week sparkle back on my friend.
This is YOUR life. And it’s ending one moment at a time.
If you would like to learn more about these strategies or book some coaching sessions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment. All calls are confidential and the initial 30 minute consultation is free of charge.
I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you stay positive. If you have anything to share, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you enjoyed reading this and would like to read more of my posts, you can subscribe to the Stick Insectz community in the sign-up box.