Something I work on frequently is turning a negative headspace into a positive one as quickly as possible. I know that my thoughts create my reality, so I work hard to “police” them. Offenders are quickly nabbed and rehabilitated in order to prevent a potentially dangerous situation for my well-being. If we don’t keep them in check, our negative thoughts can snowball and lead us into self-doubt, fear, resentment, depression and a host of other states of mind that make us feel bad as well as attract more of the same into our experience.
Yesterday was a day of testing for me. I encountered several roadblocks to happiness, culminating in a near-fight with my boyfriend right before I went to bed. I had to get up very early yesterday morning so I had planned to get some proper rest by going to bed at 9pm last night. I didn’t get home until 8 so I only had an hour to unwind, get ready for bed (and for the next day) and to spend a little time with my man. We started talking about our day and in the course of a conversation, one of us hit a sore spot. Although it wasn’t exactly hostile or even an argument, both of us bristled and the conversation took a turn where it did not feel loving or joyous. I asked if we could talk about something more pleasant and he agreed, but there was still a palpable tension in the air so we went into separate rooms and we didn’t really talk at all after that. By this time it was almost 9 so I had to go to bed. He took a phone call and it was evident that it was going to extend past 9:00 so I had two choices: I could go to bed silently and angrily and, as a result wake up in that same mood, or I could take steps to turn it around. I decided I would go kiss him on the face and quietly say goodnight so as not to interrupt his conversation, and to ensure that our last interaction for the day was positive.
No one can make you feel anything, unless you let them.
I kissed him and we said a quick goodnight and then I went to bed. As I lay down to sleep, I still felt irritated. I told him earlier in the day that I had felt frustrated and was having to try hard to fight it. Part of me was miffed that he didn’t take that into account and give me some grace – in the few minutes I had with him after a bad day it would have been nice to have had a warm and comforting conversation instead of an unpleasant disagreement over something trivial. I realized how negative of a thought this was. With the kiss, I had corrected my actions and inclined my behavior toward the positive, but now I had to work on my thoughts. I had read this article earlier which really spoke to me, especially where the author writes that a Jungian therapist said to her, “Well, y’know, no one can make you feel anything, unless you let them.” I was attributing my bad mood in part to something someone else (in this case, my boyfriend) did or did not do, but in reality, as always, my feelings and the resulting state I found myself in were MY choice, and it was MY responsibility to change them if I was unhappy.
No time like the present. (It’s a gift).
This is when it’s important to check in with the present moment, which I have found to be a slippery beast. The brain somehow always likes to go forward, or backward or sideways, focusing on the future, the past, or on someone or something other than the NOW. Something I learned from Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now is that, most likely, nothing is wrong with the present moment. If it is, he says we essentially have only two choices: accept it or change it. He encourages us to touch base with our five senses to come back to the present, to our state of being RIGHT NOW. I checked in with my five senses: Sight – it was a bit bright in my room due to a light on right outside the bedroom, so I got up and turned it off. Smell – my sheets smelled nice and clean and comforting. Sound – it was very quiet and peaceful in my room. Touch – my bed felt incredibly good after a long day, soft and supportive and exactly where I wanted to be at that moment. Taste didn’t really apply here, but I wasn’t thirsty or feeling anything else that would distract me from noticing just how great I found the present moment to be upon examination. I was drowsy and ready for sleep in a clean and comfy bed, in a dark and quiet room. Really, what was there to be irritated about? There were folks who had it much worse off than me, and I was starting to feel like a pampered princess in her palace as my head sank into my fluffy pillow.
I could have stayed awake and mulled over the conversation and the whys and hows and whodunits and could have blown the whole thing way out of proportion. I could have made myself absolutely miserable until I fell asleep and probably had stressful dreams and woke up just as cranky, in other words prolonging the misery for as long as possible and continuing to make an issue out of it well into the next day if I kept it up. Or, I could choose happiness and think nice thoughts that turn it all around: No one is at fault here. A grumpy convo came and went and it wasn’t even that bad. He loves me and I love him. We ended the night with a kiss. The Universe loves me and has empowered me with the ability to control my own mind and not let silly little things get me down. I’m going to get a great night’s sleep in this sweet-smelling fluffy cloud of a bed and wake up rested with a smile on my face, with all the love in the world to give in return. Hmm. The choice was clear. I arrested those bad thoughts and got them off the streets in a hurry.
Stay tuned for my next blog post on what to do when you just can’t seem to turn that frown upside down.
Peace and love,