Toxic Thinking

When we think about spring, we often think about sending old jeans to thrift stores and throwing out old magazines. We often forget that we also need to focus on our own mess; dusting off the cobwebs and sifting through the clutter of our personal lives.

One thing we all find ourselves doing: bringing ourselves down. Let’s be honest, there are enough people doing that already. It’s so easy to wander into a world of “I’m not good enough” and general negativity. The truth is that if you tell yourself something enough you will start to believe it. So I’ll let you in on a secret; it works both ways.

So here is my advice: Start telling yourself you are Beyoncé and leave it at that.

We are not all naturally born with peppy demeanors, and most of us are scarred by experience. We feel like we are consequences of our histories and we panic as soon as the slightest trickle of self-doubt creeps its way into our stream of consciousness.

There are times where you need to feel it. You need to feel the negativity and you need to feel it right down to your core. Sometimes we need to feel the big bad sad and that’s okay. There are good kinds and bad kinds of negativity. You need the negative surge to hit so that you can fight it, so that you can work faster and harder to get what you want. You need it for inspiration and you need it as an exercise for your ego. Every time negativity knocks you down, you need to counter it with a positive about yourself.

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The kind of negativity you don’t need is cursing at yourself for having to wear sweat pants, pajamas, or no pants for a week because you’ve binged on too many pepperoni pizzas and frozen margaritas. In typical “Mean Girls” fashion, you find yourself saying “These sweatpants are all that fits me right now.” Hey, at least you probably went up a bra size.

While I was writing this, I was consciously aware of every single time a negative thought made its way into my brain. After a week of setbacks and people lining up to tear my work apart, I started thinking maybe it was for a reason.

Maybe life was telling me something. Yet, maybe my mind was playing tricks on me, and after a couple of pep talks I decided it wasn’t worth bringing myself down. Maybe some part of me was right. Maybe I can’t do everything as perfectly as I would like, and maybe I can’t figure it all out. However, I can change my direction and refuse to let it get the better of me. Wondering what techniques I could use, I decided to ask my sister what she does when she feels sad, to which she replied, “I get into bed and spoon my cat.” So there’s that.

So here is what I think we should do. It’s spring, so let’s pick some flowers or take a walk with the dog. Why not drink our morning coffees outside and sleep with the window cracked open to feel the great fresh air? Maybe we could replace coffee with some herbal tea, and read a new book for a fresh perspective. Maybe we should make picnics, string together daisy chains and look up at blue skies, instead of filling them with grey clouds.

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Sometimes, the bad thoughts will come right at us but they will pass. It’s kind of like a food baby when you’ve eaten too many tacos and it just needs time to work itself out.

The thing about negativity is that it is almost impossible to quit. Your mind is a safe haven and you build your own panic room inside it. You naturally trust what goes on in there and you can’t help where your mind happens to wander. The cure is to embrace it when you need to and ignore it when negativity hits you like an anxious clench in the pit of your stomach.

Keep a jar, write down every positive thought you have and collect them. When you feel down, take a lucky dip into the jar. You will instantly remember something positive, and remember your worth is more than your trips into the blue city inside your mind. In contrast, you could keep a journal with every negative thought and read them back a week later, they will soon seem irrational and you will see that they are anything but true.

We all get a little blue, but spring is here to take away the grey from your life. You are enough, and tomorrow will be a little bit brighter.

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