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 Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.

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When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

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