Learning how to brush off a bad interaction is a skill that takes practice and patience. A skill that can make or break an entire day’s mood. Whether it be getting cut off in traffic or a stranger being short, we’re surrounded by actions we have no control over. Actions that can directly affect us or roll off our backs. It took me years to master how to let these unwanted interactions go so I work hard to be a positive interaction for everyone I meet.
How we treat people has the potential to set off a chain of unpleasant feelings in someone’s life or be the spark to a brighter day ahead. While we’re not responsible for how people respond to their surroundings, we can be the reason someone feels good. We can be an ounce of joy in a day we don’t know anything about. We can always try our best not to be a problem in someone else’s story.
I take every opportunity to make someone smile. Holding the door open for someone behind me, complimenting a stranger’s outfit, wishing everyone in the elevator a great week, or simply smiling at someone as we cross paths. I want to instigate as many good days as I can because good days are contagious and happy people spread joy. If I can make someone smile, I help release dopamine and serotonin in their body. I can literally help fight off a stranger’s stress with a simple and effortless act.
This morning I had an icky interaction with the barista at Starbucks. My first interaction of the day, pre-caffeine, is obviously more pleasant when I’m greeted with some sort of warmth! She seemed hungover and snappy and possibly on her way to making a lot of mornings more difficult than they needed to be. Instead of reciprocating her attitude and probably sending my own attitude down the gutter, I chose to treat her as I would the most friendly Starbucks employee in the world. Wishing her a great day and thanking her for her help! Maybe that wouldn’t change the course of her day, but I know it changed mine and with that I took control of spreading joy.
I got back into my car inspired to make people smile. Fueled by my strength turning an uncomfortable situation into a proactive one, I knew I was going to lift spirits. I was now extra motivated to hand out reasons for people to feel good.
As my morning went on I was able to have short interactions with many different people while walking my dog. The more smiles I saw, the more excited I was to continue. I might not be able to change the world in a day but I can definitely brighten moods within seconds!
Finding ways to flip negative energy into motivation not only benefits me and my life but I truly believe that feeling trickles into my society. That pit in my stomach dealing with the nasty barista was a reminder of how easy it is to feel bad over little moments. It lit a fire under me to pass out positivity today and always. There are too many reasons we can be upset in this world, it’s my mission to be a reason to smile.
Sticking up for myself has never been my strong suit. For so many years I was simply fighting to survive. With no will to live you can imagine how effort towards anything felt like a waste. I gave my life away to whoever wanted control. Took whatever pills were prescribed to me and went along with treatment plans I didn’t care for. I didn’t understand the power I could have over my life so I let people treat me the way they treated me.
With my upcoming surgery to fix my chronic jaw and neck pain, I am limited on the choices I have. There is a long list of things that need to happen for me to be able to live a pain-free life and most of those things are in my surgeon’s hands. However, I recently discovered there was a decision I could make to save myself a lot of pain, a lot of money and a lot more time.
A lot of times doctors will solve the problem they know how to solve, even if it’s not exactly the problem their patient has. Braces are used before, during and after jaw surgery to assist a maxillofacial surgeon. Unfortunately, the orthodontist I started working with had bigger plans for me than I understood or needed. I believe he wanted to help me in the way that he believed would, but he did not give me the full picture to make an informed decision. He did not give me a chance to stick up for myself.
When my mother and I went to meet my surgeon in Dallas, in person for the first time, my mom pushed for more information on the orthodontist’s process. If the extra procedures were really necessary and what the consequences might be. Without this information, I never would have known there was something to stand up for. I had already worn braces for almost 2 months and was days away from the appointment to start the questionable procedure. Luckily, I knew it was time to stand up for myself. I saw how much of a difference my mom already made just by asking more questions. I needed to control the only part of this process I could. Take matters into my hands and not give away decisions about my body.
I gathered the facts I needed. Assessed the skepticism I felt. Was it appropriate to be untrusting of this doctor? Could I believe in him to take care of me the way I wanted? I explained to him it isn’t personal, we see different solutions, but considering we hadn’t started any actual work yet, I would like my braces removed and I will go elsewhere.
The swarm of butterflies inside my stomach weren’t comfortable. Having to start over with a new orthodontist feels stressful. But knowing I took control of the one piece I had control over felt empowering. A reminder to myself that the choices about my body are mine to make. That through temporary mental discomfort I will have sustainable success. I am a good communicator and I won’t allow anyone, no matter what position they might hold, to take advantage. Sticking up for myself might feel like more work now, but in the end it saved me months of work, distress and my perfect bite. I feel proud of myself for taking this bold step and ready to do it again if necessary.
Anxiety has a way of speeding everything up. Making things too fast paced, too hard to keep up with. Racing thoughts, fast beating heart, fidgeting and an overall sense of restlesness. When I have a lot going on, when I feel anxiety creeping in, I prioritize taking my time. Deep breaths, staying in the moment and allowing myself a break from thinking. Because time is constant and my mind is in charge of how it feels.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about the uncertain times surrounding me. Living out of hotels as my landlords renovated my apartment, appointments and traveling to prepare for my upcoming surgery, amongst other chaotic situations out of my control. As I sat on the plane home from my doctor's appointment in Dallas, finally returning to my apartment, long awaited Bronco, and nearby summer plans, I was reminded that even the good times can feel overwhelming. Right then, all I had to do was sit back and let that plane take me to Los Angeles. I let myself relax.
Coming home to my belongings scattered over the dusty construction site that was supposed to be my “ready to move back in” apartment was something I could not have prepared for even if I had worried about it. My TV replaced without my consent, valuables lost and broken, landlords who show zero respect. Just another situation I have to tend to. But I can do that. I can clean the mess they left. I can replace my TV. I can communicate with the homeowners. This is life. It’s not always pretty, clean, or made easy for me, but I am grateful I felt positive and relaxed during those moments where I could. Leaving it fresh on my mind that relaxation isn’t too far to reach.
While returning home to my apartment felt like a nightmare, picking up my Bronco exceeded my dreams! Not only is this car everything I wanted and more, it fits in my garage space! (Another worry I wasted my time on.) Just as I took my flight to relax and let go, I took a moment to sit in my car after pulling back into my apartment. I sat back, finished my song, and enjoyed this win. The mess I was about to walk back to didn't need to take away from this glory. My mindset to embrace the positive and work through the negative is what motivates me the most. There is no losing when wellness is my goal.
At any point in time there are an infinite amount of worries I could have, things I could try to plan ahead for. But if ever I feel overwhelmed, the answer is always to take a moment. I’m prepared. I have the tools I need to overcome any situation. I am most powerful when I sit with that trust. Comforted by the simple fact that I can rely on myself. I got this and taking a moment to relax can only benefit me. I appreciate the good to come, the good that’s been had and feel confident about the battles ahead. Everything will work out no matter what because I have the strength to create solutions to any problem. I am the storyteller of how I handle all the good and the bad.
Have you ever shed a tear over something small that spiraled into crying over everything you feel sad about? As if tears are a trigger for sadness. Have you noticed how smiling instantly brightens your mood? A literal stress reliever as smiling releases endorphins. The truth is, our mind controls our mood. Believing in happiness instigates positive feelings just as sitting in tears will cause feelings of drowning. Learning to guide our mind toward those wanted feelings after releasing those unwanted is the key to overall well-being.
Movie endings used to be tough for Old Lindsay. Even if it ended in happy tears, tears + finality led my mind to a dark place. I felt lost, as if I were left stranded in my emotions. That pit in my stomach when I felt stuck and too flustered to guide myself forward. This is how I often felt before I learned how to navigate through my emotions.
Now I’m able to compartmentalize. I use a level head to decipher where my negative emotions are really coming from. While I can take away meaning and find lessons from a movie, an intense emotional response stems from within myself. Carrying heaviness from something I watched for entertainment is my choice. Lingering in a temporarily unsettling moment is always my choice. I need to maintain those unrelated stressors before they seep into my moments left for joy.
New Lindsay makes time to address unpleasant feelings before they address me. Diving into them when I have the energy to process what they mean and determine how I can diminish or transform them. I choose positivity and joy as often as I get the chance but if you’re a regular to my blog, you know I am a huge advocate for balance. That being said, there is a time and place where release is most effective.
Opening the door to darkness after watching a sad movie or stubbing a toe is not beneficial to self-growth. Our mind understandably gets overwhelmed and confused at times, but we always have the power to navigate back to the light. Our mood takes our lead and we should only lead it through darkness when there’s a purpose and at times we feel strong enough.
Scheduling in time regularly to release and relax can prevent those moments of overwhelming sadness from coming up when we’re not anticipating. Practicing compartmentalizing by placing our emotions with their specific triggers can prevent feeling suffocated by unrelated stressors. Our mind can be cleaned up and organized just as we do with our favorite room. Imagine how much better you feel when the dishes are put away, the clusters of paper are filed appropriately, the mirrors are wiped clean. It is my number one priority to maintain peace and cleanliness in my head as it is the control room for my whole world. If it means feelings of joy are never lost in my cluttered mind and unwanted feelings get sorted through then thrown away as soon as they arrive, hand me the gloves and watch me get to work!
ASSIGNMENT: Journal your next 3 unwanted emotions. Write down what you’re feeling, where you are/what you are doing when this feeling came about, and where you believe this feeling truly comes from. Offer at least 1 coping mechanism to get past this feeling and at least 1 step to take to prevent this confusion in the future.
What I’m feeling? Devastated.
Where I am and what I’m doing when this feeling came about? In bed watching a character die on The Walking Dead.
Where do I believe this feeling truly comes from? Personal grief and my reliving those losses in my own life.
A coping mechanism? Get out and take a walk in nature.
A step to take for the future? Next time I watch something sad, I will watch standing up. Grounding myself to my reality and separating myself from the story on my tv. Preparing to dive back into what provides joy in my personal life.
Whether I’m entering a situation I expect to be challenging or I’m just waking up to a new day, I have a secret to staying in good spirits. Imagine your body is surrounded by a shield. A shield nothing and nobody can touch, completely in your control. This shield radiates peace inwards. Protecting you from any hindrances. Nothing can get in. If something closes in and tries to make contact, imagine this shield around your mind. Nothing can interfere with this kind of peace. This kind of protection.
Building strength of mind takes time, and patience, but it creates an unbeatable warrior. Practicing a positive attitude and accepting there is so much out of our control allows us to focus on what we do have power over. Our response.
I actively make the decision to cut ties with unnecessary worrying. As they say, life creates storm clouds, I don’t need to create more. This peace shield is my umbrella. Sure, it might be raining around me. I might have to take a different route or get my feet a little wet, but under my umbrella I’m at peace. Heck, I might even learn to enjoy the sound of the rain pattering around me.
Our mind is our most powerful tool. Visualizing the life we want gives us the ability to manifest that life. Imagining untouchable peace rewards us with just that. If I want inner peace, I can have it. So turn your shield on and empower it with hope, love and patience. So long as we protect our peace of mind, the rest will flow.
Most of us are familiar with the concept, “you don’t know what another goes through unless you walk in their shoes.” I try to remind myself of this with every encounter I have. If the cashier is acting rude, I assume they had a bad morning. Someone cuts me off, maybe they’re late, stressed and rushing. I’ve been there too.
I always try to give the benefit of the doubt. Even if my assumptions aren’t true, believing there is an explanation, excusable or not, for someone’s actions brings me back to the truth. We’re all human. We feel, we react, we make mistakes but we can try to understand each other.
I’ve met too many people throughout my 27 years on this planet who struggle to grasp the misfortunes of others. “You don’t know what a hard life is because you ___.” Filling in the blank with anything they identify as a stress-free life. I try to imagine the feelings of someone who doesn’t attempt to understand the pain and hurting of the people around them. Having a closed, one-track mind to the equations for success in another person’s life, let alone their own. That must feel incredibly overwhelming, constantly chasing one recipe for happiness, most likely without the ingredients they tell themselves they need.
It would seem to be more difficult to relate to others feeling limited to such specific requirements for a fulfilling life. Left feeling lonely and disassociated from the world. That way of thinking, that sense of unfairness, would make me feel angry, burdened or even hopeless. Opportunities can be stripped away or presented to us simply by our attitude.
The people I meet who have open minds always seem to have a healthier well-being. More optimism for positive change and appreciation for the simple things. More connections to people, animals, the universe. More connections to life itself. Feeling alive and awake produces unstoppable energy. The kind of energy that takes your hands and dances with you. Uplifts your spirit and tells you you can do anything you set your mind to.
This is why I believe it is so important to be vulnerable. To express our feelings to others. While we don’t owe anyone an explanation for our personal thoughts and emotions, sharing them might spread more understanding to more people. We all have emotions, and we can use them to relate to each other.
The more we talk about our feelings, what brings up negative emotions and why, the easier it will become to identify which actions lead to feeling good. The classic “I statements” we learned as children truly are a more straightforward approach to understanding each other. With understanding comes support. Weight we each carry can be alleviated with this support. This is how we become stronger together.
For people who struggle with empathy, don’t worry. Empathy can be learned. Studying and identifying emotions in others and learning how to appropriately respond to those emotions can increase cognitive, emotional and behavioral empathy. Opening doors to more authentic and meaningful connections. Settling uncomfortable emotions with deeper understanding. The more we understand each other, the more good we can do for each other.
So my suggestion is to lead with vulnerability. Express your thoughts and feelings so others can tune in. Make sharing normal so those who struggle to empathize can be exposed to the process. But if you’re left to guessing, ask yourself what you don’t know about others. Always leave room for further understanding.
If we lived in a world where everyone was motivated to understand each other and change their behavior to hurt each other less, I truly believe crime, pollution, hate and damage of all kinds would diminish. We would each feel more comfortable living the life we want and deserve. We would feel free and loved, to me some of the most potent ingredients to a happy life.
Have you ever blamed your busy brain for keeping you up at night? Or tossed and turned before bed trying to get comfortable only to wake up in the perfect position? I’m no scientist but it seems like relaxation is more successful when our brain and our muscles have a chance to calm down.
I’m up for at least a solid 14 hours a day. I wake up at sunrise and fill those hours of daylight with exercise, cooking, eating, blogging, talking to friends and family, taking care of my dog, etc. There is a lot to process in a day. A lot of movement and a lot of thinking. By the time I feel ready for bed, ready for sleep and a new day, my brain and my body haven’t quite reached the same conclusion.
What can I do to settle my mind and calm my body in order to be relaxed and ready for bedtime? I love having a routine. I light candles before I wash up and brush my teeth. I do some slow stretches while focusing on deep breathing. Meditation to relax my body from head to toes. I actually focus on every body part until each feels at ease. Now I know it might not be recommended, but I’m not a big reader and my eyes need to be tired out somehow! I usually fall asleep to Friends or The Office on sleep timer. Something I don’t necessarily need to view anymore to enjoy, but my mind can listen instead of wander and my eyes can watch until they get tired.
With my theory of relaxation I can of course create a better bedtime regime. But I can also apply the same methods to moments of anger or frustration. Moments of sadness, grief, or any other unwanted feelings. The opposite of relaxed must be active. So in order to relax, I must settle activity in my brain and my body. If I’m angry, step away. Give myself time to calm down. Deep breathing, meditation or stretching can be a great resolution for these times too. If I’m sad, I redirect my attention. Remove the fuel to that feeling and place it somewhere that brings me peace.
We don’t have to lose our most comfortable and relaxed moments to our alarm clock. We just have to recreate that sense of relaxation when we want it. Use our mind on purpose. Separating our goals from the clutter. Creating the environment that nurtures the feelings we are seeking. Relax our mind and our muscles. Stay in tune with the energy that matches our desired results.
When I feel my peace is compromised by someone else’s actions, I self-reflect. Nobody has the right to take away my serenity. There has got to be a way all the work I do on self-improvement can stick through these hurdles. The strength I’ve acquired through monumental suffering shouldn’t even be touched by someone else’s behavior. Feeling disrespected or misunderstood can be incredibly frustrating. But does it have to be?
What gives me the right to judge someone else’s behaviors unjustifiable? I know I’ve done things in my life I don’t want defining my character. Said hurtful things, made mistakes handling situations, lost my patience. Maybe I was having a bad day and dealing with people wasn’t my strong suit for the moment. Hopefully I learned from regret. Took responsibility and turned guilt into growth. I know now I would never wish to add stress to anyone’s life, so I choose to assume the same for others.
While I’d love to believe everyone is good and no one means any harm, let’s say these actions are with malicious intent. Nasty, unapologetic, inconsiderate. Why should this person’s bad choices take me down too? I’ve come so far. Learned so much. Built a life for myself I respect. Molded a mind powerful enough to defeat any obstacle. This person’s behavior reflects lack of decency on their behalf. But, it’s a chance to practice my patience. An opportunity to demonstrate my character. Forgiving but strong. I won’t tolerate disrespect but it doesn’t always deserve a fight.
Knowing when to stay out of the ring is a vital piece of success. I don’t have to compromise my peace of mind to battle these hiccups. With practice, I can maintain an understanding that will protect my inner peace. I control my actions, and my actions only. I will stay true to my character. Remain polite, humble, and kind. I will not let stubbornness or pride get in the way of my life’s purpose. I never want someone to feel worse because of an interaction they had with me. If I can’t make this person feel better, I can only hold myself accountable for my reactions. Put out into the world what I stand for and stay unbothered by those who disagree.
My parents raised me to be respectful and open-minded. To think before I act. Take responsibility for my mistakes and how to communicate effectively. They encourage me to be aware of different upbringings and what that may mean for someone else’s path. Show compassion to those who are struggling. Offer love and guidance when I can. We’re all only human. Of course we experience a whole spectrum of emotions. While I can’t ignore when something makes me upset, I can strategize ways to not be upset further. Nip it in the bud and come back to calm. I remember who I am. The incredible influences I’ve been lucky enough to meet throughout my life. Some of the biggest hearts and most level headed people I know have their frustrations and times of regret, but I trust them to always put effort into making it right. Right for all those involved, including themselves. If I work on myself every day, my inner peace should be strengthened and never sacrificed.
This morning I headed down a canyon trail that was listed online as 9 miles in and out. I wasn’t feeling entirely confident in my energy today and wanted to respect my boundaries so I planned on going as far as felt satisfying and then turning back. Leaving the rest for another day. Incomplete but enjoyable. Leftover with a remaining goal. Curiosity left to explore.
Those types of hikes usually feel just as good in the moment. Zero pressure, complete freedom in nature. Incomparable, however, to the feeling of reaching a peak or having the confidence that I saw it all, did it all. But today, about 2 miles in, almost ready to turn back to my car, I ran into a couple girls. I asked them if they came from the opposite direction and they said it’s only about a mile further. This new knowledge was all I needed to complete the entirety of the trail.
Far out goals can seem hard to reach. Excuses seem excusable and the checkpoint is vulnerable to neglect. Leaving too much time unknown and unorganized can be intimidating. Overthinking, doubt and worry kick in. This is why I always try to come up with mini-goals along the way. Realistic but challenging goals give me the opportunity to succeed in a way that inspires continuation. Achievements that carry momentum, reaching me to that final destination. Sparks of motivation, reminders of the glory that comes with each win, no matter how small. The effort feels more worthy when I can envision results. And sometimes, like today, those long-term goals can surprise you and come sooner than imagined.
The realization I could complete something with just 2 extra miles round trip was all it took for my journey to keep going. Uncovering new territory within reach. Sure, I might be 2 miles more sore or 2 miles more exhausted but I’m infinitely more proud of myself. I even got a blog post out of it! So next time something seems far away, and the thought of turning back comes into play, I will set a marker “2 miles” further. An extra push into the distance. A metaphorical trailhead sign to reach that feels worthy. Not just a walk to walk, but a walk to achieve. I’m already out there, I might as well take a little extra air. Might as well feel the purpose of my steps.
Nothing like a new year on the calendar to motivate resolutions. The ones our gut has been pulling us towards, but we’ve been hesitant to make work. Of course, it’s always a good time to start living the life we deserve. Sometimes with a clear cut motivator, a moment in time can push those dreams into reality.
Why can’t we make resolutions weekly? Daily? As they come? Why must we wait until a new year to start demanding positive change from ourselves? My New Year’s resolution is to take the new year out of the equation. To make more resolutions for myself. Realistic goals I can achieve and the space to create as many as I find productive.
Confidence and pride are strengthened as new potential is reached. Set goals act like fire, motivating movement. New understanding, ideas, inspiration. Newfound desire, replenished faith in my own abilities. In some cases, the act of making goals can be just as beneficial as the accomplishments. Keep those internal wheels greased up and spinning.
I try to keep my mind active with hope, while clear from expectations. It is not what happens to me that determines my success, but my perception of success that keeps me feeling worthy. Adjusted goals aren’t abandoned goals. I choose to regard them as lessons rather than failures. The more I consider, the more I learn. Updated evaluations of what is important to me. Expanded consciousness of what happiness truly means.
So instead of annual, traditional goals to set, I aim to maintain resolutions daily. Carrying on a chain of positive movement as my journey to better living remains constant. The goal is always feel-good living. The ability to create meaning from hardships and direction from self-development. A life of purpose is always my #1 goal and there will always be new ways to satisfy.