Why changing my shirt was the greatest act of self love (and how to turn around shitty moods)

THE BAD MOOD

We’ve all been there: Nothing was wrong other than the fact that it is a tired, rainy Monday morning, and your mood wants to match the weather.  Especially if you were over the moon happy a day or two ago, why on earth is this happening?  For me, I notice all the signs on the outside that accompany that shitty feeling on the inside: I didn’t want to get out of bed, I want to eat everything in my fridge, I go through a mini Instagram-scrolling binge, and I try to walk out the door a billion times but kept forgetting something important each time.  It feels difficult to push a single positive thought to surface of your mind among the negative ones filling the space; thoughts you may not have seen in so long that they look unfamiliar.

Have you ever felt this way? You are cruising steady and then all of the sudden, something flips a switch that leaves you standing dazed and confused wondering why the mood changed.  Maybe you turn toward your mind-number of choice (sugar, alcohol, Instagram, TV…) or lash out at a loved one on accident or start crying for no reason.  You know you are in a bad mood, but you don’t know why and don’t want to take the time to figure it out.  It is so tempting to just play along with that negative feeling because it is so much easier to keep that negative energy rolling rather than turning around and saying “No, I will feel good today”.

On my particular rainy Monday, I saw this negative energy snowballing into a larger and larger dark hole I was about to be swallowed up into.  I could see myself slipping and further into it, while my happy mood sat flailing on the sidelines saying, “Stop! Don’t go down this road!”.  The problem was, I couldn’t see any other path to take.

THE TURNAROUND

I decided that if the change wasn’t going to happen from the inside, maybe I could make it happen from the outside.  (I.e. “Look good, feel good” mentality)

I had thrown on the “I’m wearing sweatpants and don’t give a crap” look and knew I was going to feel frump–no matter how I actually looked–if I left the house, and realized I was at a critical point: either wear my sweats and continue feeling bad or go change into something that makes me excited.  So I marched myself back upstairs and put on a shirt that made me feel sexy.

And it made all the difference.

I left the house in a slightly better mood than I would’ve had I stayed in the same clothes (and mindset!).  Once I made that initial move to start feeling better, the ball could start rolling in the positive direction again.

So why was changing my shirt really so important? Because I was showing myself that I cared about feeling good, and I wasn’t going to let anything else in my day ruin my mood.  If you rely on your surroundings to improve your mood (like relying on somebody else to get you out of the dumps),  you may get disappointed because there is no way to control every single thing that could happen to you.  You take your happiness into your own hands when you start showing up for yourself.

And I am not saying that other people can’t make you feel better.  In fact, there is nothing like another person’s loving gesture to you to help you out of a dark place. But we’ve all been in that spot where no matter what somebody else does for us, if we run with our negative emotions, every effort made can still leave you feeling sad.

THE FIX: SELF CARE

The best way to get back into the sunny view of life means taking care of yourself.  Recognize that you are feeling sad and have compassion.  Let yourself off the hook a little bit.  It’s okay to feel sad.  But instead of self-sabotaging, treat yourself like you were comforting a close friend.

Make yourself a cup of tea.  Wear your favorite outfit.  Go do your that activity that leaves you smiling no matter what. Paint your nails.  Hang out with a bestie.  Meditate.  Eat a meal that will make you feel good, not something that will leave you feeling bloated with a stomach ache (greens, healthy fats, fiber, and quality protein rather than sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or processed foods).  Go to sleep early.  Sleep in late.  Move that bod (don’t kill it in a workout, just break a sweat and get some endorphins running!).  Listen to music that feeds your soul.  Have a dance party (with your friends or solo in your room).

Even if it is small, that first action of self love will make each following one easier and easier. 

Remember, you deserve to feel awesome every day.  You deserve to be happy every day.  You deserve to feel confident every day

Love,
Lucy

SHAME. Here’s how to let it go

I never thought I’d say this, but I recently had a breakthrough during meditation: I realized that much of my unnecessary stress stems from simply adding a shameful tone to my thoughts.  Have you ever experienced this?

It happens when I set goals for myself and don’t reach them, no matter how small or insignificant. Like if I said I would do homework and ended up 2 hours into a Netflix streak or when I said I wouldn’t that day (whether it was most of the bar or even just a couple squares of dark chocolate!).  Usually what follows the realization of failing to meet this goal is an automatic response of self-inflicted shame.  And it wasn’t until I was mediating early this week that I realized shame was even present at all.  How hurtful and unnecessary this tone was to show up so uninvited!

But this shame is self-inflicted.  Buddhist teachings call this the “second arrow”, or the pang we hit ourselves with after an actual event. (The first arrow being the event of not reaching a goal, the second being the shamefulness targeted at the self.) The way to turn off the shame is by bringing it to the light!

Imagine it: when you start sinking into a darker place in your mind (literally!), the shame can sneak around easily without you being able to see what it truly looks like or where it is. You may have that uneasy feeling of its presence and you start to doubt yourself or freak out.  But BAM! Once you turn on the light, you see exactly what that shame looks like, why it’s here, and how it is trying to get to you. It looks so silly and insignificant when you can see it clearly.

Personally, my shame comes trying to steal that self confidence and self appreciation that is locked away. It wants me to feel bad for going to bed 30 minutes later than I had planned for. (Because THEN it will have shown me!) But really, how silly does that sound? Would you tell your best friend that she should be ashamed of herself for shutting her eyes a number of blinks later than she had aimed for? Of course not! That’d be silly. You love your friend and admire that she set a goal and went after it, no matter the outcome.

IMG_6287You would appreciate and applaud your friend for making strides toward her goals and listening to herself, no matter how far she got.  And this is how you should treat yourself too.

Since I started identifying my shameful thoughts and putting a spotlight on their true shape, they have stopped showing up as often.  So Now I want to turn it back to you.

How to Combat Shame
1.  Give yourself a minute or two to just sit and think of times you have felt shameful or uneasy about something. And let yourself sit with it.  This is where the personal growth can happen.

2.  Put a name to the shame. Identify where and when the shameful feeling comes up. Why might the shame be there? Where do you experience it in your body? Once you can spot times it might show up and why you don’t need to believe it, you can dismiss it more easily when it wants to visit again.

3.  Recognize that you don’t have to listen to that shame or second arrow, because it isn’t you and it isn’t true.

4.  Appreciate yourself.  Appreciate that you want the best for yourself and thank yourself for everything that you do anyway, no matter how small.

Bonus! Physically feel the freedom that comes with letting go of that voice’s hold on you.  How does it physically manifest itself? Maybe energy runs from your feet to your core or your shoulders are able to relax more and drop that tension you might not have noticed before. If you still have trouble letting go of shame’s grasp, still imagine how you would feel without it.  Next time you see shame trying to creep up, try to remember this physical response of letting it go.

Remember, you are always worthy of love.
Lucy

Show Up Before You’re Ready

Today I bring you the motivational/directional phrase:

Show Up Before You’re Ready

There are so many things that I find I want to do, but don’t actually do them…and the most common culprit behind my block is that I DON’T FEEL READY.  But you know what I’ve learned? You never feel ready!  What makes me feel qualified or even comfortable doing anything is the confidence I’ve gained from both succeeding and failing at what I want to do.  So, what can you do about it?

  1. Accept that you don’t feel ready….then do the thing.  Sometimes just recognizing the fact that you may not be (in fact, most of us aren’t) experts at anything the first time we try it.  Going into an activity with a blank slate (i.e. no expectations) makes it easier to push yourself to take that first step.
  2. Hold compassion for yourself.  When you expect someone to say “you’ll get it next time” or “you tried your best” to yourself, it provides a safe space that helps you step into the arena and become vulnerable. (If you have not come accross Brene Brown’s work, you must.  She does amazing work, especially that around vulnerability).  Who would want to try something when they knew they were being judged no matter what or how they did it.  So why hold that environment for yourself when there is something deep down you know you must try for yourself?
  3. Repeat the activity.  Only through experience (sounds a lot like expert, right?) can you feel comfortable with that new level of growth that eventually makes you feel READY to move onto the stepping stone after that.

And thus, opportunities arise and life takes us to places we never could have dreamed. Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to express your authentic self to the world.  That is the reason you are here, right?

Much love, as always,
Lucy