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To Be AND Not to Be: Honoring a Life Lost to Suicide

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“To be, or not to be—that is the question.” ~William Shakespeare

This Sunday marks one year since my friend took his own life. It both is and isn’t a big deal. It is in the sense that we like to commemorate things: one-year-old, one year at a new job, one year since 9-11, one year sober.

It isn’t in the sense that my to-do list that day includes “thaw and marinate chicken.”

When a person takes his own life, it creates a cosmic shift in the universe.

It also doesn’t.

The first few days after a person takes his own life are the weirdest. He was here. Now he’s not.

The disappearance of a human being is beyond comprehension. A whole human vanishes. Six feet one inch tall. One hundred and sixty pounds. Blue eyes. Salty blonde hair. Brilliant veterinarian. Father of two young daughters. Husband. Son. Friend.

Perhaps the coroner has determined that the cause of death was self-inflicted gunshot wound. But it is equally as believable that he took a last minute trip. He had to go unexpectedly, but he will be back. He is out running errands. His flight was delayed.

But as time passes and the person doesn’t come walking up the drive and through the door, his favorite hat bee-bopping up and down with steady gait in the yard, deep sadness swells around the supernatural weirdness of it all. The sadness makes it difficult to breath, at times. It is life altering and universe shifting. It is monumental.

Except that it isn’t. No matter how deep our grief, schools continue to meet. Clients continue to call. Crimes continue to be committed. Babies continue to be born. Cars still need oil changes.

Neighbors still drive out of their driveways in the mornings. They still look carefully before exiting their driveways into the street. They still stop to check their mail, which keeps coming by the way, even when someone we love is suddenly gone.

Just as our own serious injuries may frantically send us to the ER, once we are sitting in the waiting area, we look around and realize we are merely one of many. Death is plain.

The ordinariness of it all can make it seem like our person didn’t mean very much. Sometimes it feels like he never even existed.

Except that he did. His half-used soap bar remains in the shower. His razor sits on the counter with tiny hairs embedded in its blades. His cell phone rests on the nightstand with three unread text messages. His bills sit an unopened still-life on the kitchen counter. His half eaten banana slowly turns brown.

His stuff suggests he was real. That he was here despite his sudden disappearance.

As his loved ones tasked with cleaning up what he left behind begin to eradicate the trail he left of his final days, when the soap has cracked and the fruit has become rotten, it can feel as though all evidence of his existence has vanished.

Still, even if every shred of evidence of a person’s existence is lit on fire and turned to ash, our memories, or experiences, and our love for people who disappear will live on. Those memories, intangible ghosts in our minds that cannot be touched, seen, or proven, both are and aren’t real.

For me, the best space within which to honor those we have lost is to live in the in-between, a place where they both did and did not exist. Where they both did and did not die. Where their loss both is and is not extraordinary.

This Sunday, I plan to commemorate the day by getting what is and is not meaningful: a tattoo. The experience will and will not be important. It will be important in the sense that I am getting a semi-colon tattoo to represent mental illness and suicide awareness in honor of my dear friend. It isn’t in the sense that millions of people get tattoos every day.

This Sunday, I will be sad. The sadness that comes with suicide doesn’t ever truly disappear. Because it is always there, I suppose the sadness left over after a person takes his own life both is and isn’t important. It is in the sense that it lives down low beneath the joy, laughter, excitement, and other emotions that continue to be felt despite the life altering loss.

But it isn’t all that extraordinary either. Sadness is not exclusive to me. And despite my sadness, this Sunday will be regular. We will laugh when it makes sense to laugh. We will watch our usual TV shows. We will wash laundry for the week. We will return emails. We will grade papers.

When someone we love dies, we swear we will never take our lives for granted. Every moment will count; every day will be lived fully. Similarly, we swear we will never take for granted our friends, our spouses, our children. We will keep our eyes on the big picture. We won’t sweat the small stuff. We will stop drinking, stop smoking, stop yelling, start meditating.

Except when we don’t. And that is okay. Because although we aim to see the death of our loved ones as a monumental turning point in our lives—one that will push us to live our best life—the fact also remains that life is ordinary. Death is common. Our health will fail one way or another. We will yell again. We will take things for granted.

Because the finite nature of our capacity for understanding pushes us into the realm of “either/or,” we believe that we either appreciate our lives, or we don’t. We are either happy or we are sad. We are either healthy or we are sick. We are either alive or we are dead.

I suspect that, if we could hear the voices of ghosts, they’d tell us that our finite view causes us much suffering. That Hamlet’s contemplation of his own being when he asks “to be or not to be?” is the wrong question with no real answer. For even when one takes his own life, he does not cease “to be.”

After all, my friend is gone, but his memory lives on. I can see his sweet spirit in the eyes of his children. I can feel his love for nature as the wind blows through the leaves of trees, dancing alive. He is here, and he is not. His ashes will return to the earthen ground from which he came. Perhaps he will become part of a cloud, a stream. Perhaps his remains will enrich the earth that grows the tea we drink.

The sooner we accept that the universe is infinite and that our capacity to understand is finite (despite whatever technological advances we believe humans have made), the sooner we will find the peace that can only come from living outside of the duality of either/or.

For me, I accept that my dear friend died because he took his own life. I also accept that he did not die.

This sort of wild, fantastical thinking is not the kind one might see in popular culture movies depicting communication with the deceased in the afterlife. It is the kind of thinking that arises from acceptance of the infinitesimal universe that is beyond our own finite understanding. Once we accept this truth, the spirit of those we have lost is freed beyond the grave.

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About Ashley Sillay

Ashley Sillay is a criminal defense attorney and instructor of legal writing in Macon, Georgia. She enjoys the ocean, vodka, and family. She writes this article in honor of her dear friend, Russ Edwards, a beloved and gifted veterinarian, who passed away on April 30, 2016. She hopes to destigmatize grief and loss one person at a time.

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A Powerful Technique That Can Help Heal the Pain of Regret

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/fRqzBo1PFSg/

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” ~Rick Warren

Regret—whether for things that you have done or things that you had no control over—can keep you frozen in the past, unable to move forward. Sadly, there are no magic wands that can turn back the hands of time and change what has happened, but despite this I believe we’re not entirely powerless to affect the past, after all.

I first began thinking of this subject when my daughter was young and having serious ongoing problems with fear. She wasn’t able to go to school or to be separated from me for any length of time at all.

I really could sympathize with her. As an adoptee from Korea, I knew that she had been relinquished by her mother at birth, placed in an orphanage, then with a foster mother, and ultimately taken from that woman to make the long journey to America and her “forever” family—but not without a whole lot of emotional baggage onboard.

I wished with all my heart that I could have been with her through those first months so that she would have known that she was safe and loved. I was sure that was the root of her troubles now, but no amount of safety in the present seemed to make up for the lack of it in her past. It seemed there was nothing I could do about her rocky start in life. Or was there?

Being a meditator, and someone who is comfortable with visualizations, one day I had the brilliant idea to try simply “re-writing” her past.

I visualized myself in the birthing room with Lia, taking her tiny body into my arms and telling her how much I loved her, that she was safe, and that I was waiting for her. I also whispered in her birth mother’s ear that I would take good care of her daughter, and that everything was going to be all right.

The visualization felt wonderful, and I repeated it many times, going on to visualize myself at my daughter’s side through all of the other changes she went through in those scary first months of her life.

Whether or not I was actually impacting my daughter, I certainly found these visualizations helpful to me! I felt I was somehow able to make up for what she had missed out on and, over time, I really think it did help Lia to overcome her fear (although I’d never be able to prove it).

Perhaps it was only because my energy had changed, which affected her in turn. At any rate, she gradually seemed to relax and gain the confidence that had eluded us through so many years and so many other attempts to help her feel safe.

Since then, I’ve used my “time travel” meditation in many other circumstances. For instance, I think every parent has had lapses of control that we deeply regret in hindsight. I vividly remember once losing my temper with Lia as a toddler, for breaking an item that was precious to me. As she grew older and seemed so intent on always being perfect, I wondered sadly how much I had contributed to her fear of “messing up.”

So again, I went back to that remembered situation in a visualization. Obviously, I couldn’t change the fact that I had yelled at her, but I visualized surrounding her in love and whispering that that everything was okay—she hadn’t done anything wrong.

In my imagination, we watched my earlier self yelling, and I told her, “She’s just tired, poor thing. She’s not really mad at you, she’s mad at herself. Let’s just send her some love.” And we did.

As before, I have no idea whether my visualization actually had an impact on Lia’s perfectionism (I hope it did), but it certainly helped me feel more compassion and less shame regarding my past actions.

On yet another occasion, I mentally placed a retroactive bubble of love and protection around Lia when she was facing a scary situation that I hadn’t known about at the time. There are literally endless scenarios for tweaking things in the past, so don’t go too crazy with this! Save it for the situations that really weigh on your heart.

These techniques work equally well even if you aren’t a parent. You can mentally send the adult version of yourself back into your childhood to provide love and support to your earlier self.

Children are especially vulnerable, since they have so little understanding of the true context of what is happening. We all remember times when we felt alone and frightened—how wonderful to take that scared child in your arms and let her know it will all be okay, that she isn’t truly alone.

Although it’s tempting to imagine different outcomes for those painful times, I try to always stay true to what actually happened and simply provide whatever energetic support seems best. For better or worse, we are the product of these experiences; they are a part of who we are. But it may be possible to heal some of the wounds they left behind, even many years down the road.

Does it really work? We know so little about time, but quantum physics gives us some understanding of how slippery a concept it is. At the very minimum, these techniques bring present comfort and a sense of being able to help what previously seemed beyond help.

The feeling of powerlessness to change the past is one of the most corrosive aspects of regret. Even if it is only “imaginary,” the sense of efficacy we get from taking some retroactive action is priceless.

For very traumatic situations, especially ones that you have not already explored in therapy, I would definitely recommend first trying these techniques with a therapist. However, most of us have a long list of more garden-variety regrets we could safely use “time travel” meditation to address.

To begin, simply relax and breathe deeply, gently allowing the situation to come into your awareness. Let your intuition be the guide, and use any words, color, light or other visualizations that occur to you. (As a general rule, you can never go wrong by simply blanketing the experience with love and compassion.)

Don’t force yourself to feel forgiveness if that isn’t what you feel—if there is some antagonist involved, you can safely just ignore them and concentrate on providing comfort to the one who needs it. Remember that you are the “wise adult” in this scene, there to provide perspective and support, not justice or retribution.

Continue to breathe deeply and notice whatever emotions come up. Close the meditation when it feels complete, and return as often as you like! Sometimes once will be enough; sometimes (as with Lia’s birth) it will take many sessions to feel complete. Again, let your intuition be your guide.

Be respectful if you use the technique on other people or situations that you didn’t personally experience. I felt close enough to Lia to insert myself into that scene, but I would hesitate to do so in most other situations. I also shared with her what I was doing and, even though she was still fairly young at the time, I think she loved the idea that her mommy was there, at least in spirit, at her birth.

Although it’s true that “what’s past is past,” it may be possible that we don’t need to leave it at that. I believe we can send our love and our energy through time and, in the process, perhaps heal ourselves of painful regret.

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About Amaya Pryce

Amaya Pryce is a spiritual coach and writer living in the Pacific Northwest. Her newest book, How to Grow Your Soul, is available on Amazon. For coaching or to follow her blog, please visit www.amayapryce.com.

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How I Stopped Trying to Please Everyone and Started Prioritizing Myself

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/yEwa0YCn_N8/

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you don’t say ‘no’ to yourself.” ~Paolo Coehlo

My whole body was shaking. Tears streaming down my face, my nose blocked and throat sore from crying. Yet, no sound escaped my mouth except an occasional gentle sigh or hushed sob I was unable to control.

My husband was lying in bed next to me. I held my breath and lay motionless whenever he stirred in his sleep.

He had an early start ahead and needed rest. I didn’t want to disturb him, bother him with my silly crying fits. I didn’t want him to know that I was unhappy.

He wouldn’t understand, I didn’t even understand myself. I had a good life. A loving family, caring friends, a promising career I enjoyed.

I should have been happy, fulfilled, grateful for the blessings in my life. But instead I felt numb, empty, lifeless, as if a grey veil was covering every part of my being. And the crushing wave of desperation washed over me night after night.

Because the nighttime tears were my only release. I drowned in overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion. I was so tired.

Drained and worn out by the myriad of tasks every new day had in store. Weighed down by tons of work projects, household chores, family demands, and favors. Broken from being kind, loyal, considerate, caring, and hardworking for others, non-stop.

I never had time to rest and relax. I couldn’t even remember when I last read a novel, walked on the beach, or followed my passions. And I had pushed my dreams to the back burner so many times that they lost all their pull and sparkle.

I was trapped in an endless loop of “work, eat, cry, sleep,” and I couldn’t escape. Too many people relied on me, depended on my help, and counted on my support.

I couldn’t let them down. They would be upset, displeased, maybe even angry. And they would be disappointed if they discovered the truth: that I wasn’t strong enough to cope with it all, that I was a failure.

That night, as I secretly cried in my pillow, I realized that I was on the fast lane to burnout. I couldn’t go on like this without killing myself. And I knew something had to change.

The Impossible Task of Relaxation

In the following days, I attempted to take time out for myself—do things I enjoyed, pursue my hobbies, have a well-deserved nap.

But my diary was too full, bursting with appointments, events, and meetings. My boss expected me to take on yet another project, my work colleagues asked for support with their problems, my friends needed help with wedding preparations, house moves, and child care. My charity volunteering position as a treasurer of a local cat shelter demanded constant attention, and the household suffered in silence even without me taking a break.

And how could I not put my family first in everything I did? I was their wife, sister, daughter, and mother. I loved them, was responsible for them, and wanted them to be happy and healthy.

But sometimes I struggled to find the motivation, energy, and strength to get out of bed. And nobody noticed; nobody offered help or support. They took for granted that I would get it all done. They didn’t realize that I hated myself for being too weak to juggle it all.

I felt overburdened, resentful, abused, and irritated. Why did they all take advantage of my good nature? Why did they not see how exhausted I was, how their demands swallowed my life?

How could they do this to me? I knew nothing back then.

The True Problem of the Ever Helpful, Chronically Selfless, and Desperately Exhausted

I spent several weeks angry and resentful. People around me wondered why I was so unbalanced, upset, and grumpy.

They had no idea that I was suffering because of their unrealistically high demands and expectations. That they were selfish, mean, and inconsiderate for shifting their burdens on to me. At least that’s what I thought.

But then they started to ask whether something was wrong, whether I needed to talk about it, and what they could do to help. “Just holler,” they said. “Anything you need, any time, we are there for you, okay?”

I was gobsmacked. I had convinced myself that they didn’t care, that they were taking me for granted and considered me their personal property.

But the truth was that I had kept my suffering a secret. I never told them that I was stressed and exhausted; I never said “no” if they asked me for yet another favor. They didn’t know that it was all too much, that I wasn’t coping.

They weren’t malicious, exploitative, or taking advantage. But they saw me smile, heard me say that “I was fine,” and were used to me helping out without a second thought.

I had fooled them all those years with my happy face and bubbly spirit. So I could help, support, save and rescue. So they could be grateful and I could feel useful, valuable and appreciated.

There was no way around it: I was a people pleaser. I needed the praise, recognition, and gratitude of others to feel worthwhile. I was addicted to serving others.

And I was hurting myself in more ways than I realized.

6 Compelling Reasons to Break the People-Pleasing Addiction

I knew that my people pleasing compulsion left me exhausted and drained of energy and joy. But only when I examined my predicament more deeply did I recognize the devastating impact it had on my life:

I lost myself.

Because I was so desperate to please others, I not only did what they expected from me, I also was who I thought they wanted me to be. I assimilated their interests, behaved according to their preferences, and kept my opinions to myself. My true self was buried under an enormous pile of adaptation and lies in the hope to please others.

I felt unloved.

I was always ready to help others but, when I needed support, I felt that nobody cared. They were taking from me without any intention to give back. Many of my friends back then only contacted me when they had a problem but seemed to forget about me when things were going well. Simply because they weren’t used to me asking for anything in return.

I created co-dependencies.

Many of my relationships relied on me giving and the other person receiving. I depended on the service to get my fix of appreciation and recognition. The others depended on me for my help and support. And I was never sure whether the relationships were based on affection or co-dependence.

I was vulnerable.

Because of my overwhelming desire for acknowledgement and appreciation, I would have done anything to please others. Looking back now, I understand how vulnerable this made me. How easily somebody could have abused me, forced me to do things to “make them happy.” I was lucky, but others might not be.

I damaged my health.

Because I was hard-wired to please others, I ignored my body when it screamed for rest. I couldn’t stay in bed if I had promised others my help or my company. I couldn’t live with myself if I let them down. So I ploughed through the exhaustion and drained my immune system until I seemed to have colds, coughs, and flus non-stop.

I beat myself up.

And when I was lying in bed with a high fever I still beat myself up for disappointing others. I felt down and upset because I was a useless inconvenience. I was horrified my family and friends would get sick of me if I bothered them too much and needed help. And I wondered how I could justify my existence if I got seriously ill or too old and frail to please everybody all the time.

As I saw the damage my people pleasing caused in my life, I knew it had to stop. I had to break my addiction this time. I would finally learn to say “no.”

But it was far more difficult than I imagined.

The Real Motivation of a People Pleaser

After the shocking realization of the true consequences, I was mindful of my people pleasing tendencies. I was determined to prioritize myself.

But, while my body cried out for a rest, I felt lazy every time I settled down for a nap. I felt selfish when I indulged in a hobby and inadequate if I didn’t give 400 percent in everything I did.

Whenever I attempted to do something for myself, rest, or say “no,” I was gripped by crippling guilt. It spread through my body, stinging in my chest, choking my breath, and weighing on my heart.

My mind was racing with all the tasks I should do, all the chores I ought to complete, and all the support I was supposed to provide.

Instead of enjoying my me-time, I beat myself up for not focusing on more pressing matters. Instead of deriving pleasure from my hobbies, I punished myself for letting others down. Instead of recharging vital energy, I condemned myself for not cleaning the bathroom.

The guilt sucked all the joy out of my life and left me in an unbearable state of self-punishment, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. It seemed like I had only two options in my life: be miserable because of overwhelm, or be unhappy because of guilt. And none of these choices was acceptable.

But why could I not prioritize myself? Why did I feel so guilty?

The Tragic Reason Why We Sacrifice Ourselves to Please Others

As I contemplated these crucial questions, I soon discovered that all my problems were caused by lack of self-worth.

I was pleasing others because I believed that I wasn’t good enough for their friendship, respect, and attention. I didn’t deserve their love.

I was convinced that others only tolerated me as long as I was useful, contributed my share, and proved my worth. I was terrified that they would abandon me if I didn’t comply, disappointed them, or ever dared to say “no.”

Low self-worth caused fear of rejection. And fear of rejection produced guilt. An all-consuming pressure to do more, be better, and try harder if I wanted to maintain my relationships and keep my job.

So pleasing others became an addiction. A compulsive overcompensation for my lack of self-worth and self-love. With guilt overpowering me every time I withdrew from my self-invalidation and chose to prioritize myself.

I was burning myself out, sacrificing my life for others. Not because they demanded it but because I was convinced it was necessary to be accepted. Because I thought I had nothing to offer but my tireless service, commitment, and dedication.

Because, deep down, I believed I was unacceptable, unlovable. Worthless.

I knew that I had to say “no” to others if I wanted to prioritize myself. Yet, I never could. At least not without feeling like a nasty, unhelpful, selfish bastard.

Yes, I could force myself to say “no.” But afterward, I would plummet into a turbulent sea of unhappiness, guilt, and self-punishment. It wasn’t the way out.

Because my people pleasing addiction wasn’t the real problem, it was merely a symptom. If I wanted to learn to prioritize myself without suffering I had to treat the root cause. I had to heal my low self-worth.

Learning to Prioritize Yourself

I grew up believing that our worth is defined by our achievements, our usefulness to others and society. That we are inherently worthless but can earn worthiness by gaining qualifications, wealth, popularity, and success. And that we are only deserving of love and friendship if we sacrifice ourselves to please others.

But I was wrong because the truth is that we are worth personified. Worth isn’t the result of our actions, accomplishments, and possessions; it isn’t increased by self-sacrifice. It is the essence of our being, the foundation of our existence.

And it is our task to remember. To let go of our society’s misunderstanding and wake up to the exquisite value and deservedness that is inherent to all of us. To realize our infinite worth that does not depend on any outside factors.

We are worth. And as long as we treat others with respect and kindness we will always be good enough to deserve their love—without sacrificing our happiness, damaging our bodies, and betraying our values.

I must have repeated “I am worth” a million times. I affirmed it twenty times a day, told myself when I felt guilty for putting myself first. And I assured myself when I finally told my colleagues, family, and friends that I was stressed and exhausted, that I couldn’t go on like this, that I needed time for myself.

And they understood. All those years I was horrified they would leave me if I didn’t cater to all their needs. But they knew my true worth better than I did.

They cared for me, not for the tasks and favors I did for them. They respected my needs. And, after a while, I managed to prioritize myself.

I now have time to pursue my dreams, give my body the rest it needs, and read a book in the sun. Without guilt or fear of rejection.

I still enjoy helping and supporting others, granting favors, and doing my best at work. But my motivation has changed. I no longer do it because I am terrified of negative consequences.

I do it because it makes me happy. And I now know that I deserve happiness. I deserve love, rest and time for myself. Because I am worth.

And so are you.

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About Berni Sewell

Dr Berni Sewell, PhD is a health scientist, energy healer and self-worth blogger. She is on a mission to make you feel good about yourself, no matter what. Download her free guide “Instant self-worth: an easy 4-step solution to heal your self-worth in under 5 minutes a day” and start to boost your confidence today.

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When Negative Thoughts Keep You Down: How to Break the Addiction

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/xuWs2Tayfy8/

“We think we are our thinking, and we even take that thinking as utterly ‘true,’ which removes us at least two steps from reality itself.” ~Richard Rohr

Do you frequently obsess over worst-case scenarios? Do you struggle to think well of yourself or others? Are you frequently stressed, anxious, or depressed? You may be suffering from an addiction to your negative thoughts.

We all fall into patterns of negative thinking from time to time, often triggered by difficult circumstances or everyday stress. But when that pattern occurs over a long period of time, it can degrade our health in body, mind, and spirit.

When bad things happen to us, we can feel incredibly helpless. Sometimes the way we fight back against this feeling is by making negative thinking a default way of life. It satisfies our deep need for a sense of control over our lives. It keeps us from being disappointed when disaster visits.

We trade our own joy and happiness for certainty. It’s a huge price to pay for a bill of goods. Because in truth, the certainty we crave is an illusion.

I’ve experienced the toxic effects of negative thinking in my own life. Growing up with a severe stutter meant that I was always on guard for negative comments from others about my condition.

My peers in school constantly teased and mocked me. This was the crucible in which I formed the habit of thinking negatively about myself and others.

Convinced I had nothing good to contribute to the world, I spoke very little and avoided people. Even after the bullying subsided, I deeply mistrusted the goodness of others. I was always looking for the worst in others rather than the best. My negative thinking became a compulsion.

As I grew into adulthood, I realized how much my addiction was costing me, as my most important relationships suffered needlessly. I needed to break the addiction. Over the course of improving my own life, I learned some important lessons that helped me. If negative thinking is causing you to suffer, consider taking these steps:

1. Own your negativity.

Avoid blaming circumstances or other people for how you feel. When we blame, we surrender our power and ability to change our thoughts and feelings. We put ourselves at the mercy and whims of our environment and other people.

The first critical step to overcoming any addiction is to acknowledge and own the problem. Understand that only you can choose how you react to your circumstances. Only you can challenge your negative thinking and change your life. Once I owned my reactions to people who teased me, I was ready to reclaim my power to choose a different response.

2. Challenge all-or-nothing thinking.

Many of us fall into the trap of all-or-nothing thinking. If things don’t go exactly according to our expectations, we immediately turn to the worst-case scenario. Such thinking is usually a distortion of reality. When we’re caught in this trap, we engage in faulty interpretations of the actions of others.

If you’re waiting to hear back from someone, do you entertain thoughts such as: “She hates me” or “The answer must be no.” Instead of attaching yourself to these thoughts, immediately ask yourself, “What else could it be?” When you do this, you’ll probably come up with a list of other possibilities that can diffuse your negative thinking and may be actually closer to reality.

For me, this meant challenging the belief that everyone I encountered was mocking my speech in their minds.

3. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

As we learn to entertain other options, the next important step is to choose those options that give people the benefit of the doubt.

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown wrote about her arduous journey to discovering this ultimately freeing idea: “People are doing the best they can.” It’s hard for most of us to be this generous in our thinking, but it will free you from the mental trap of thinking negatively toward others.

When the emails go unanswered, when your boss says no to your request, when someone says something that comes across as mildly offensive, choose to believe that people are doing the best they can. Choose to believe that they are not purposely trying to hurt you.

4. Let go.

Learning to give people the benefit of the doubt can open the door to forgiveness.

For a long time, I deeply resented the people who mocked my stutter. This happened mostly in my childhood and adolescent years when my stutter was much more pronounced. Even now, an ill-conceived remark can transport me right back to those painful years. But I’ve since learned to let go of the hurt associated with these memories.

Is a past hurt or painful memory fueling your negative thinking? Choose to let go of that memory every time it comes to mind. Say, “I choose to let go of this memory and to forgive the person associated with it.” Know that the process takes time. Know that there will be days when you won’t feel like letting go. But when you do, you’ll begin to experience inner freedom.

5. Think big.

Negative thinking allows us the “luxury” of not expecting too much from ourselves and others. If we always expect to be let down by others, we spare ourselves the pain of being let down.

By allowing our negative thoughts to thrive, we create a safe and small space for ourselves—free of judgment, disappointment, disillusionment, and heartache. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that thinking small will likely not protect us from pain. And it will keep you from the joy that comes with personal growth.

I struggled with the idea that my stutter meant that I should be silent—that I had nothing worthwhile to say anyway. Then I came across the famous “Our Greatest Fear” quote by Marianne Williamson.

The line “Your playing small does not serve the world” struck a chord with me. I decided that I would not allow my stutter to silence me. I decided instead to think big by deciding to speak up. Allow yourself to think big, even when your inner monologue tells you not to.

6. Expect failure and setbacks.

Negative thinking often begins with the unrealistic expectations that the path should be clear for whatever you’re trying to accomplish. When things go off-script, as they often do, the negative mind will gladly use the event to reaffirm idea that you’re a failure or that you’re no good at anything.

Instead of dreading or hastening failure through your negative thinking, expect it. When you’re tempted to entertain negative thoughts, smile or laugh. Take each challenge as a signal that you are working toward something worthwhile. Use setbacks as a chance to hone your skills rather than seeing them as a sign that you are no good. Decide to do this ahead of time don’t waver regardless of how you’re feeling.

7. Practice meditation.

One of the primary benefits of meditation is that you eventually realize that you are not your thoughts. Negative thinking addicts get a fix from their own thoughts and their way of thinking about the world. They fully identify themselves with those thoughts. So the thought “I am a failure” becomes all of who they are.

By practicing meditation, you will be able to observe your own thoughts without identifying with them. Why? Because you are not your thoughts. Learn to observe them without judgment. Watch the thoughts come and go without clinging to them. Watch long enough and you’ll see that your negative thoughts have no power over you.

8. Practice self-acceptance.

We often discount the practice of self-acceptance because it feels too passive. At least when we’re actively engaging our negative thoughts, it feels like we’re doing something to control our circumstances when we feel most helpless.

Morrie Schwartz, who taught the world how to practice acceptance in the face of death wrote, “Acceptance is not passive—you have to work at it by continually trying to face reality rather than thinking reality is something other than what it is.”

Most of the time, our negative thoughts are anything but realistic. Self-acceptance allows us to acknowledge all aspects of ourselves without clinging or judgment. Instead of fixating on the bad, it means loving all of who we are. It means having the courage to correct any behaviors that are harmful without engaging in self-loathing.

You Have What It Takes

Want to break your addiction to negative thinking? Understand that your addiction is based on the illusion that you can avoid pain by experiencing negativity on your own terms.

Yes, negative things will happen to us. And it will hurt. But you have what it takes to face the pain and negativity without becoming addicted to it. As sure as day follows night, know that the pain will eventually subside. Know that opportunities for happiness and joy will come knocking again. Let go of negativity so that you can fully embrace these opportunities when they come.

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About Cylon George

Cylon is a spiritual chaplain, musician, devoted husband, busy dad of six, and author of Self-Love: How to Love Yourself Unconditionally. He blogs about practical spiritual tips for living well at Spiritual Living For Busy People. Sign up and get his free guide 20 Little Tricks To Instantly Improve Your Mood Even If You Feel Like Punching Something (or Someone).

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Free “Change Your Life” eBook

Original post from: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/tinybuddha/~3/i7y9J5cqZ_g/

Hi friends! Last week I sent an email about a free eBook I recently contributed to. Since it’s only available for a limited time, I’m reposting that here on the blog.

I’m excited to share that I’ve contributed to a wonderful eBook that provides actionable, life-changing tips and advice from dozens of authors and bloggers.

You can download the free eBook Change Your Life!: Experts Share Their Top Tips and Strategies for Reaching Your Highest Potential here by entering your email address.

In my story, which you’ll find on page 30, I shared how I stopped causing myself unnecessary stress and anxiety while trying to create major changes in my life over these past few years.

If you’ve ever felt both desperate to create change and powerless to do it, you’ll likely relate to my experience, and you’ll hopefully have the same “aha” moment I did when you read about the epiphany that changed everything for me.

This free eBook is part of the Better You Bundles for Good promotion that will run from July 27th through the 30th. It will include dozens of courses and eBooks, worth thousands of all dollars, all for one low price—so check your email for additional updates over the next couple weeks so you won’t miss it!

The best part is that 25 percent of the proceeds from the sale are going to support Courageous Kitchen, a charity helping refugees in Bangkok. As little as $100 per month can get a family off the streets in Thailand, so we can make a big impact with this promotion.

Get your free copy of Change Your Life! here.

I hope you enjoy the eBook!

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About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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The post Free “Change Your Life” eBook appeared first on Tiny Buddha.