Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference: 30 Days Of Positivity Week 1

Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference: 30 Days Of Positivity Week 1

How the first week of my 30-day positivity challenge is already changing my view.
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Have you ever experienced a point in your life where it feels like everything has gone wrong, nothing has happened the way “it was supposed to” (according to your idea, anyway) and you can’t stop the spin of anxiety and negativity you seem to experience every day?

I have.

And I’ve been looking for answers and a way out.

I may have found one.

I came across The Truth Practice on Pinterest, and I Pinned the piece “10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and Reduce Anxiety.” As I read through it, I was inspired to challenge myself: to 30 days of positivity.

So, for 30 days, I will not think negatively about anything I am experiencing, and I will not voice negative thoughts. Notice I don’t say “try.” In the immortal words of Yoda: “Do or do not; there is no try.”

For me, saying “try” gives me an out. I am challenging myself; I will catch myself when those negative thoughts swoop in before they can take hold in my mind.

Here are the 10 things I will be focusing on in the next 30 days:

1. Stay in the present moment

2. Don’t analyze the situation

3. Accept there is only so much that can be done

4. Trust in something bigger than yourself

5. Find beauty in every moment

6. Stop labeling everything

7. Take action (if necessary), then move on

8. Surrender to what is

9. Focus on one task, one activity, one thought at a time

10. Embrace being surprised

These sound terrifying, especially numbers three, eight and 10. I know me, though, and I know those particular concerns are the main cause of my anxiety.

The Beginning

I didn’t know where to begin. How do I go about vanquishing dark and negative thoughts?

Then I had an idea: make a “negativity list.”

I wrote down any and all negative thoughts I have had recently, releasing them. I prayed over the list, focusing on asking God to release me of my negativity and that I would hear Him during this challenge.

Then, I ripped up that paper into small pieces and threw it away. And, in all honesty, I already felt better, as if part of the weight had already been lifted.

And, really, I haven’t given a second to those thoughts since. In fact, I don’t even remember what I wrote down.

How did it go?

Week one went about as well as could be expected, given I have to learn to retrain my mind.

Initially, I began to make connections to what sets off my negative thoughts. Once I made those connections, it felt a little easier to control them.

Unfortunately, this gave me a bit of a false sense of comfort. I began to feel as though on day one I conquered it all because I had already learned what it felt like quite a bit.

But it’s sort of like that first real day of class: you go in thinking this is so cool! I got this, easy peasy. Then you get further into your semester and your thinking changes to did I not learn anything?!

I think I expected things to suddenly be different, brighter and lighter. I would be positive for a minute and suddenly my world would flip upside down (or rightside up?) and everything would be alright. But, surprise, that isn’t how it works.

Then, I stumbled onto some mighty, existential questions.

Does saying “no” count as being negative?

Does finding what you don’t like count as negativity?

Is saying “I don’t want to” or “I don’t want that” negative?

These are questions I have started to explore, though I am nowhere near answering them.

Re-framing my mind to be positive did seem to give me more energy to get out of bed in the morning and go to work. It did seem to make the mundane less, well, mundane.

I prayed more, too, and paid closer attention to the Bible study I am currently working on. While it can bring out powerful emotions and can begin to make me feel depressed, once I release that energy through prayer, I feel better.

Maybe not perfect, maybe not 100 percent positive, but I can feel the change my God has already brought to me.

Listening to podcasts also helped a great deal. They helped me to divert some of that negative energy by listening to something more interesting and that might educate me in some way. (If you’re curious, some of my favorite podcasts are TED Radio Hour, LORE, and, because I’m a huge "Harry Potter" fan, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text.)

I also took Belle to a dog beach during week one, and that helped not only my positivity, but also my self-confidence.

Once the newness of the challenge wore off, though, I hit what I call a “neutral day.” I didn’t feel positive, but I didn’t feel negative. I just felt…there—in the car, at work, at home. And the only thing that helped was having Belle nearby.

What did I learn?

I learned three very important things in the first week.

The first: don’t expect monumental change right away.

Being positive is a lot harder than I thought. It’s not just about telling myself hey, I’m doing alright! Most of the time, I can’t tell myself that because I don’t believe it—I’m not okay, and just saying it won’t make me okay.

But the small changes, like re-framing my hatred of getting up early into positively reminding myself that I wouldn’t have to rush to get out the door, ended up making a big difference, and they actually helped to set the tone for the rest of the week.

The second: for me, positivity and confidence are linked.

If I feel confident in myself, even if it’s in how well I have trained Belle, I instantly become more positive. I need to find other times and other ways I feel confident to replicate that feeling. This was one of those small changes I was talking about.

Belle graduated from training this week, so I automatically felt more confident in bringing her to a place to play off-leash. I think I exuded that confidence, which meant she listened better.

Her positive reactions to her commands then gave me more confidence that I had done the right thing and trained her properly. It may seem like a small thing, but, to me, it was huge.

The third thing I learned is a little deeper: I truly need to allow my faith to guide me.

I have always been honest in saying that I am a Christian. I think I tried to know my God, though, without reading His Word, and I think sometimes I tried to know the “right, Christian answer” without really knowing my God.

Now is my time to actually get to know Him. I won’t lie: I’m terrified. But I have to believe He has healing and an amazing path in store for me.

I am looking forward to how He changes me over the next several days.

If you would like to read about my daily walk in this journey, check out my blog. I’ve also been using #positivitychallenge, so feel free to join me on Twitter as well.

So, which of the 10 ways to practice mindfulness terrify you? Are you ready to get positive?
Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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To The Girl Who Wants A Change

First of all, you're beautiful and girl, I relate.

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Every person on this planet has thought about what they would do if they could change something about their appearance. It may just be me, but there seems to be this stage of depression where you look yourself in the mirror and don't want to be you. You want that bright colored hair if yours is dark. You want your nails done and your makeup on point. You want to have the body type and looks to wear that one outfit you've had your eye on but just can't pull off.

You become almost overconcerned and overly-conscious about how people see you and how your image is projected upon the world.

Honestly, when you get to this point, there's really no going back. Some people are very skeptical of changing things when in this stage of itching for something new. They believe that as soon as it's done that you're going to regret what you've done and now you're gonna hate yourself even more.

My advice is that if this action that you want to do isn't going to hurt you or anyone else, why not? Put some thought into what you're doing and then go for it. Color your hair purple, make your nails into those claws you've loved for so long. Get a tattoo. Although, you might want to think absolutely thoroughly on that last one.

It sucks to live in a society where you feel like you're constantly being scrutinized and just aren't able to do the things you want to. Maybe you're too scared of the outcome. A little nervous. Maybe you grew up with people telling you to stay natural and not do that thing that you want because your body is a temple and you shouldn't disgrace it.

Even temples have murals, sweetheart.

Nobody can tell you how to live. No one can tell you how to look. Never be afraid of change just because someone else wants you to be. Never be afraid to express yourself because people have silenced your voice. Speak loud, proud, and often and you'll be just fine.

And hey, even if you do get your nails done a new way, get your hair dyed or anything else, that isn't the end. You don't have to stick with it if you don't like it. Just find something you do like, something that makes you happy, and always pursue it.

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