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You have been bombarded with Blogs, Tweets, and Facebook postings about how thinking positive thoughts and feeling positive emotions dramatically increases your energy levels, reduces stress, and brings you all the good things in life. So, it’s completely natural that you want to have only positive thoughts and feelings.
Based on all these messages you have received, it’s normal that you see negativity as a dream crusher, an energy zapper, and an enemy to health and happiness. It’s expected that you would fear negative thoughts and emotions and want to avoid them at all costs.
But there’s some confusion here because there’s another message we hear time and time again — what we resist will persist. And it’s true. We keep that negative ‘something’ alive by resisting it. By pushing against it, the negative thought or emotion actually stores and festers in our subconscious mind where it will certainly create chaos in our lives.
So, what do we do if we fear negative emotions, but also understand that what we resist will persist?
When life happens, empower your attitude by accepting ALL of your thoughts and emotions – positive and negative – as completely normal and welcome them as learning experiences.
Let’s face it; we are involved in a life of many different thoughts and emotions depending on our circumstances, events, and relationships. When life happens – when things are not going well, it’s appropriate to have a range of ‘negative’ thoughts and emotions about the chaos going on in our lives.
That being said, it’s sometimes likely that we over-dramatize our thoughts and feelings, possibly blowing them out of proportion, and allowing them to drive us to act in ways that are destructive to ourselves or others. But we don’t have to go down this road.
We can shift how we relate to negative thoughts and emotions. We can teach ourselves to view each negative thought and emotion as a positive learning experience. We can choose to use their energy in ways that will benefit us.
Negative emotions are useful, and can be thought of as a tracking system for life – they give us feedback about whether things are going generally right or generally wrong in our lives.
Negative emotions, such as fear, sadness, and guilt, all play a role in helping us survive and get along in society. Take guilt, for instance. Guilt is emotional feedback that tells you that you might want to pause, take stock of your motives and of the consequences of your actions, and correct your behavior. Sadness can alert you that it’s time to let go of something or someone. Fear can alert you to possible action that you need to take to protect yourself.
What about thoughts? Instead of resisting negative thoughts such as, “I’m such a loser,” or “There’s no way I can accomplish that,” see if you can go within and face those thoughts head-on. Ask yourself, “What is the message in this thought?” See what you can learn from it. Are you holding a limiting belief about yourself – from the past – that no longer serves you?
It sounds strange, but welcoming and accepting your negative thoughts and emotions, and finding the ‘lesson’ in them provides you with a positive relationship with them. The thought and emotion then loses its negative force and becomes helpful information.
Negative thoughts and emotions alert you that something needs to be recognized, acknowledged, learned, and shifted.
Turn towards EVERY thought and emotion (positive and negative) as a welcomed and appreciated moment of information, and use that information to benefit your life. Even in a ‘negative’ thought or emotion, you can gain a ‘positive’ perspective and experience. Is this not an empowering attitude to have when life happens?
How will you choose to use your negative thoughts and emotions today? Do you hear the message they are trying to tell you?
- I got a bad feeling! (hypnodiary.wordpress.com)
Gratitude is counting your blessings, being thankful, really paying attention to the simple pleasures in life, and acknowledging everything you receive as being a gift from the universe – a lesson to advance you in your life’s journey.
EXPRESSING GRATITUDE MAKES YOU HAPPY!
Gratitude shifts your focus from the lack in your life to the abundance. Showing appreciation and being thankful makes you a happier person, it makes you stronger during challenging times, it helps to reduce stress, it strengthens your relationships, and it improves your health. Practicing daily gratitude enhances your quality of life and helps you to experience calm even in the midst of chaos.
FIND JOY IN THE SIMPLE THINGS
Instead of waiting for a big promotion, a huge savings account, the perfect mate, and so on, permit yourself to feel gratitude today. Express gratitude for the simple things in life! If you have difficulty in finding something to be thankful for, think about the little things you take for granted. Are you grateful for the home you live in? Your ability to hear, taste, see, and smell? Your family? Your pets? A beautiful red rose in full bloom? A savory meal with friends? The laughter of children. Imagine losing some of these simple things that you take for granted. Then imagine getting them back again and really FEEL the gratitude.
GRATITUDE IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Gratitude shouldn’t be something you express only when you’re getting something you want. Look for the good in all situations – even the unpleasant ones. Expressing gratitude can help you put things in perspective. When things aren’t going your way, remember that everything is happening FOR you – not TO you. Ask yourself, “How can this situation benefit me?” There’s a life lesson in everything we experience. Ask yourself, “What is this situation here to teach me?”
HOW TO PRACTICE GRATITUDE
I LOVE to express daily gratitude using Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude. Simply write down a list of 5 things each day for which you are thankful. You can do this with your morning coffee or right before your sleepy head hits the pillow at night. And you certainly do not have to invest in any kind of special book to get started. Just grab your favorite gel pen and a colorful spiral notebook and let the thoughts and words flow. If you’re like me, the ’5 things’ will turn into paragraphs and you will be filled with an incredible sense of inner peace. Plant your daily seed of gratitude and reap the benefits of feeling a sense of calm even in the midst of chaos.
WHAT GRATITUDE LOOKS LIKE
To help you get started expressing gratitude on a daily basis, here’s an example of what gratitude looks like when it turns from a list of 5 things I am grateful for to a calming expression of awareness and understanding.
MY DAILY SEED OF GRATITUDE
Color me strange, but I’m here to profess my gratitude for Fibromyalgia. Sounds crazy, I know. But it’s one of the sanest feelings of gratitude I’ve ever expressed. It took a while, but after surrendering and accepting the pain and fatigue that came along with the ‘label’, magical things started happening. I became the person I was always meant to be.
The pain was there to get my attention. The fatigue was there to slow me down. I was given the gift of dis-ease to recognize that I was not living my life’s purpose. I was a self-critical, people-pleasing perfectionist who didn’t know how to practice genuine self-care and self-appreciation. Clearly, I was disconnected from the essence of my true Self.
The quiet voice of inner guidance that once whispered ever so gently began shouting through the pain. I listened. I paid attention. I became empowered to change. I chose to get out of my mind and into my life. The end result was profound inner peace, enthusiasm, and authentic happiness.
Through unsettling chaos, I found comfort in present moment awareness and reclaimed my true Self. I now realize without a doubt that everything happens FOR us – not TO us. For this, I am extremely thankful!
SHARE YOUR DAILY SEED OF GRATITUDE
What are you feeling thankful for today? Express your gratitude by sharing with us in the comments. You never know who you might help with your words.
Many people believe that happiness follows success. I bet you’ve caught yourself a time or two saying things like, “I’ll be happy when I lose 25 pounds,” or “I’ll be happy when I find Mr. Right,” or “I’ll be happy when I am living in my dream home,” or “I’ll be happy when my husband changes his attitude.” It doesn’t work like that.
In my opinion, success follows happiness. Get happy and things start changing in your life. Think about it – is it easier to eat healthy and exercise when you’re miserable or when you’re happy? Is it easier to attract Mr. Right with a look of gloom and doom on your face, or with a cheerful smile and bright outlook on life? Will you ever be able to afford that dream home when you’re so negative you can’t attract abundance? And as far as the husband goes … is it possible that when you’re lighter and happier, people around you will seem easier to deal with and more fun to be around?
Try something different. Make the decision to be happy NOW – you may very well find that you attract all that you want by first becoming happy. Here are some things you can start doing today that will free you and lead you to happiness – right now.
1. Accept yourself and love yourself – unconditionally. Practice extreme self-care and set healthy boundaries. Self-love is not selfish.
2. Stop rehashing the past. Don’t invest your energy in things you can’t go back and redo. Make peace with it. Get out of the past and into your life.
3. Don’t compare your life to others. Don’t try to walk in their shoes – you have no clue what their life’s journey is all about. Keep your feet in your own shoes and follow your own path. Discover you own life’s purpose.
4. Don’t waste your precious time and energy on idle gossip.
5. Look around you. Who are you hanging out with? Are they draining your energy? Clear out your space and make room for positive, like-minded people who will contribute to your life – not take away from it.
6. Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
7. Don’t bother rehearsing the future with a bunch of “what if’s” – it never turns out like you rehearsed it – and you’ve wasted every minute you were caught up in the worry.
8. Dream big! Even while you’re awake – dream big!
9. Realize that there is only one person responsible for your happiness – and that person is YOU.
10. Know without a doubt that everything happens FOR you – not TO you. Problems are opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. Embrace your life. All of it.
11. You don’t always have to be right. It’s perfectly fine to agree to disagree.
12. Practice mindfulness – in everything you do. And add some laughter.
13. Change your perceptions and expectations. Don’t try to change things you can’t control.
14. Don’t long for what everybody else has. Know that you have everything you need. Envy is a wasted emotion.
15. Life is too short for hatred or revenge. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It will eat you up inside. Forgive. Then Drop it.
Imagine what your life would be like if you made these choices? What would change? How would your life improve? Do you have the courage to give it a try?
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” - Steve Maraboli
One of the most effective measures you can take in achieving a stress-free, pain-free, healthy, happy life is to check in with your own personality. It’s quite possible that you are actually stressing yourself out! And we know that chronic stress contributes to dis-ease (stress-related illness, depression, and chronic pain syndromes).
Meet the Perfectionist …
“It’s not ME creating all the stress in my life,” you say. “It’s just that my house is a mess and I can’t seem to get any help around here! Even when they do help, they don’t do anything right, and I have to redo everything they did, so I might as well just do it all to start with! It’s not ME. It’s THEM. They are stressing me out!”
The Perfectionist lives a life filled with self-imposed pressure. If you are a Perfectionist, you are productive, conscientious, and achievement-oriented. You like all tasks and projects to be completed without any flaws, and you have a very clear understanding of what it means for things to be done right. For example, in your mind, there is only one correct way to load a dishwasher, one correct way to dust the coffee table, and one correct way to wash a car.
Perfectionists are very good organizers. They also like orderliness and control. If you are a Perfectionist, you are a driven person who is highly motivated and self-critical.
On a positive note, Perfectionists are responsible and dependable in everything they do. However, they tend to set impossible standards and goals for themselves and for others.
A Perfectionist does not like being wrong, and a task or job is an all-or-nothing deal: It’s either done right, or it’s done wrong. There is no in between in the mind of a Perfectionist. This personality type is something you are born with, but it grows and thrives as you continuously try to prove to yourself and others that you are not inadequate or average.
Meet the People-Pleaser …
You feel just a tad bit relieved as you hang up the phone because it was hard to sound cheerful through your clenched teeth, “OMG, I can’t believe I have to rearrange my schedule for her AGAIN!”
“She has a lot of nerve asking me to watch her kids for another few hours because she’s held up! I don’t have time for this,” you shout inwardly. “She is really beginning to stress me out! But, what the heck can I do? I want her to like me and continue being my friend.”
The People-Pleaser has a great desire to be accepted and well liked. They are nice, kind and sensitive. If you are a People-Pleaser, you care deeply about what others think about you, and you constantly worry about disappointing others. People-Pleasers are known to put the needs of others before themselves, even when they don’t want to be so generous.
Although a People-Pleaser may have strong opinions, they rarely disagree with others out of fear they won’t be accepted, though they are probably not aware of these feelings.
If you are a People-Pleaser, you constantly rearrange your own schedule and plans and neglect your personal desires to meet the demands of others in an attempt to make them happy.
People-Pleasers feel the need to avoid conflict and try hard not to hurt the feelings of another. As a result, they may often fail to tell the whole truth about a situation when they’re conversing with people they care about.
The People-Pleaser is born with a nice and sweet way about them, but as they grow up, they develop a very deep need to be good in the eyes of others, and liked by everyone. They persistently sacrifice their own needs. This personality type has a lot in common with what Melody Beatty describes as a codependent personality.
What’s important for a People-Pleaser to remember is that neglecting their own needs and desires while pasting a smile on their face can cause frustration, anger and resentment, which leads to chronic stress and pain.
Meet the Legalist …
You walk away from your husband with a chip the size of Texas on your shoulder, and sternly, you say, “I really don’t care to argue this with you anymore. You’re wrong, and it’s really hard to be around somebody who holds that kind of ridiculous philosophical belief. You’re totally stressing me out!”
The Legalist is characterized by rigidity and dogmatism in personal beliefs, and likes to be right in almost every situation or topic of discussion. If you are a Legalist you are responsible, sensible, and strongly committed to keeping your word.
Legalists tend to pay a tremendous amount of attention to details and to following the rules in all situations, and they may be quick to find fault with others. They love to give lots of constructive criticism. Because of their strong belief that they are always right, the Legalist is often very judgmental and displays a critical attitude and intolerance toward others who don’t hold to their same beliefs.
The Legalist experiences a lot of personal guilt and hidden fear, and is highly susceptible to irritation and anger. This Irritation and anger in the Legalist are emotions that are usually repressed rather than expressed.
Meet the Stoic …
“No, I’m not at all upset over my boyfriend cheating on me,” you say calmly as you fight back the tears. “As a matter of fact, I really don’t feel much of anything at all, and I’m ready to just move on with my life. It’s not worth getting stressed over.”
The Stoic personality believes that strong emotions such as fear, envy, and even passionate love or deep sorrow are weak and childish emotions, which are to be avoided. These emotions make the Stoic uncomfortable; therefore, they have great difficulty expressing them. If you’re a Stoic, you probably don’t intend to repress these strong emotions; you’ve just reached the point where you don’t feel many strong emotions.
Stoics are masters at repressing emotions. They might acknowledge feeling a little angry or guilty or even fearful, but their face never shows it because they allow themselves to experience only a small fraction of the emotion while subconsciously repressing almost all of it.
Meet the Fear-Prone ….
“I’m so worried about my daughter moving away to college,” you tell your best friend as you pick over your lunch. You’re too stressed to eat even a bite. “I just don’t think she’s ready to live on her own. And what if she’s walking on campus after dark and somebody snatches her up and I never see her again?”
The Fear-Prone Personality consistently anticipates that the worst will happen and may believe the world is out to get them. They also tend to feel that life is out of control. If it’s storming, they are thinking about the worst case scenario, like tornadoes. If there child is out of their sight for a few seconds, their mind immediately jumps to thoughts of kidnapping or death. They actually expect loss and harm. The principal emotions felt and buried by Fear-Prone Personalities are fear and anger. If you are a Fear-Prone Personality, you don’t view yourself as being angry because the anger is covered by the obvious surface emotions of worry and fear.
So, tell me. Are you stressing yourself out?
If you recognized your personality as you read through these stress-prone, pain-prone personality types, it would be helpful to check in with yourself often, stay in touch with your emotions, and practice relaxation methods, such as abdominal breathing and meditation. I also find that keeping a journal is a great way to release buried emotions and connect with your thoughts.
You don’t have to be perfect to be loved, you don’t have to sacrifice your needs to have true friends, you don’t always have to be right, it’s okay to show your emotions, and remember to live in the moment instead of constantly worrying and rehearsing the future.
Staying in touch with the characteristics of your personality can help a great deal in stopping stress before it causes you physical and/or emotional pain. How do I know? Because I’m like a ‘bundled’ personality (kind of like you bundle services like cable, internet, and phone). Keeping a close eye on my perfectionist, people-pleasing, stoic personality traits, helps me to stop and think before I get so caught up in my actions that I totally stress myself out. Just give it a try. Next time you’re feeling stressed, check in with yourself and see if any of these personality traits are contributing to your stress.
And speaking of stressed … I believe I will hit the publish button now and release this article before my perfectionism drives me crazy. I mean, how many times can a girl read and edit one blog post? 372 times? Probably.
Feel free to share your “AHA” moments in the comments. You never know who you could be helping! :)
Reference: Dr. Scott Brady is the Founder of the Brady Institute for Health at Florida Hospital, where his powerful holistic, noninvasive treatments have helped hundreds of people overcome debilitating pain. In his book, Pain Free for Life: The 6-Week Cure for Chronic Pain without Surgery, Dr. Brady describes the five personality types I’ve written about in this article, and explains how they create pain in our lives. I highly recommend Dr. Brady’s book to those who are suffering with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and stress-related illnesses.