One of the things I've been doing since starting therapy nearly four years ago is working to eliminate the negative in my life.
Now before you think I'm talking about getting rid of negative people or negative situations or negative influences, let me stop you: I'm talking about getting rid of the negative behaviors in me. Negative behaviors encompass all sorts of tasty things. Things like being evaluative and judgmental. Things like being completely self-absorbed. Things like only seeing my perspective. I could go on and on, but that's what I pay my therapist for.
The good news is that the work is really starting to pay off. The bad news is that I've lived so long with negative behaviors as my normal, that living in the positive is something very new and sometimes pretty tricky. In fact, it's something that I actually know very little about.
Living in the positive isn't about being happy and always having a kind word to offer. It's more about living in a life-affirming, nurturing, responsible and loving way. And yes, that's a pretty foreign world to this girl.
Both Dan and I are working this process in ways that are unique to us both. (Hey, that's a positive!) His work and my work, while there are convergences, let's just say we each have our own version of normal to unravel.
As I've worked to make changes over the years, one thing I've discovered is that when you really start to shift how you respond to your life, it feels weird. It feels yucky. It feels not like you at all. It actually feels pretty threatening.
For example, I used to cling to the idea that I was high strung. I was just emotional. I was over the top. I was too sensitive. I was a regular Sarah Bernhardt. You name it, that was me.
It was just the way I was. I had no choice in the matter.
Without getting too therapy-esque, the fact is that while we are born with a certain bill of innate goods, we can use those goods for, well, good, or not so good.
I cultivated the not so good and then just conveniently brushed it all off with, "Well, that's just the way I am."
Imagine my surprise to learn that I didn't have to freak out if something didn't go my way. That I could really think clearly and look at facts and make a choice in how to respond?
(Side note: yeah…that only took about two years to actually put into regular and consistent practice, if you're wondering.)
Long story short: kind of like trying to lose weight, making personal changes doesn't always feel good, but the rewards can be nothing short of miraculous, even though they're simply based in real life stuff.
So the other night, Dan read me this article called "Stop Glossing Over the Good Stuff (How to be Positive)," and it really resonated with me in terms of living in the positive, so I wanted to share the link with you.
The reason is because in the midst of making changes, because it feels weird, because it doesn't feel like you, it's very easy to do things to take you back to something that does feel like you. For me, one way would be finding something to complain about. Even in a life that really is pretty amazing when you break it all down, finding things to complain about is something that ties me to the old me and serves to make me feel more normal. But that version of normal is not actually the person I want to be.
This article reminds me that complaining, like many other behaviors, is a habit and habits can be changed.
The article asks you to consider three good things to your day, every day.
Dan and I have both started doing this together and much like consciously practicing gratitude, it reframes your thinking to look for things that add to your life, instead of the things that detract from it. It reminds you how even the smallest of positive things can affect your day. And, it encourages you to really seek them out consciously.
See what you think.
It's a long article, but I really liked what the writer had to say.
If you're so inclined, download this simple, printable PDF of 3 x 4 cards. Maybe you'll want to document three good things in your day.
Thanks for reading. I don't have all the answers but sometimes I feel compelled to share the things I'm working on beyond how to recolor a PNG file.
Have a great—and positive—day.