Okay, climbers, it’s tough out there. I get it.
Everyone is scrambling to figure out an uncertain future. It’s firing up stress, and we’re all on high alert. Anger and negativity are super infectious right now.
I’m so proud of you for taking this journey to climb outside of these negative, draining emotions. Remember you are climbing into your beautiful life. It’s waiting for you.
This week's blog will remind you to stay positive and use self-compassion to assuage your stress cycle. Truth is, you aren't treating yourself well enough in these testing times. People around you think highly of you and you just have to believe them. Unfortunately they are too busy dealing with their own dramas to worry about yours. Be your own self advocate.
Okay, so are you seeing what I’m seeing? There is a lot of negativity, anger and stress out there!
Just yesterday I saw someone at Costco yell at an 80-year-old woman because she dropped her cabbage and held up the line. Everyone is on high alert and jacked up on adrenaline. Were in the middle of a pandemic and it makes sense. The negativity swirling around is why you need to nurture and protect your positive emotions more than ever. It’s a priority. It’s too easy for you to get sucked in and start to feel grumpy.
Our brain has a negativity bias. This means we are three times more likely to think negative thoughts than positive ones. It's all tied to our stress cycle and our ability to survive.
Most people want to be happy, but they keep cycling the same negative thoughts around in their head. This releases adrenaline and cortisol and dumps it into your body. These hardening chemicals tense up muscles, slow down digestion and ovulation and unleash many other challenges on your health and mental well being. Stress hormones instigate a highly choreographed stress response and tend to promote more negative thoughts.
If you feel stuck, empty, defeated or negative, now you know why. Know you are not alone. This is a human experience, and we all struggle with challenging emotions. I wish they taught us this in school, and everywhere our eyes and ears settle our attention.
Most people walk around utterly clueless of the impact of their thoughts on their day.
We meander through life continually being triggered and fired up with every little stress. Something as simple as traffic can instigate anger and colour your day a cranky, melancholic vibe. Hidden underneath this is your stress response whose job is to keep you alive. It needs you to be on high alert to do that. The stress we experience today is usually not life or death, but our stress cycle doesn't know that. It needs to be soothed. Kindness to yourself and others will wax and wane at stress and get its claws into you. Compassion will give you relief.
I know you are busy, if you do one thing, do this- Stop being mean to yourself, be nice.
Know that this whole stress routine is not your fault. A billion years of evolution is behind a limbic system that instantaneously gets fired up under pressure.
Some people can take stressful experiences in stride because they balance their perspective. I would say they have a mental routine that gives themselves the benefit of the doubt; they don't overgeneralise disappointing events. They are kind to themselves in tough times.
Every thought you have- positive or negative has an impact on your body, releasing either adrenaline ( negative thoughts) or dopamine ( positive opinions).
Whenever you feel joyful, satisfied, light-hearted, grateful or compassionate, the brain releases dopamine. It's a feel-good hormone that gives you positive, hopeful energy. It slows down your heart rate, speeds up digestion, unwinds muscle tension. It naturally makes your breathing more profound, more calm and steady. It's like a spa for your insides. Know this, every time you think good thoughts, express compassion, gratitude or laugh, you are doing amazing things to your insides.
Now if you can keep it up and continue to pour on the positive vibes, they will stick around. Here's the rub. Dopamine( released from positive thoughts and experiences) is not tied to our survival. It doesn't make us fight, flight or flee. I've met some ridiculously cantankerous people who live well past their expected expiration date. They didn't need to be positive to survive.
Dopamine released with all positive thoughts and experiences is more of a powerful flowing feeling that only shows up when the conditions are right. The problem is the conditions are rarely correct. As we dart around our to-do list, we jump on problems and stress steers our day. Dopamine is always squeezed out because stress is tied to our existence. Positive emotions are not essential for survival; they don’t tear into our stress cycle, so they don’t have their claws in us- as stress does.
HAPPINESS HAS NO GRIT
The instant you have fear, anger, worry, regret, etc., positive emotions will evaporate. They don't have any grit. They don't stick around when the party goes sour. They flee. Stress will always get its way and take its place.
So there you have it. Being miserable is not your fault. It's wired into your DNA. I’m not trying to depress you, its meant to enlighten you. I want you to pay attention to the way you feel. Just notice, are you more positive or negative?
Life isn’t stressing you out; it’s you who’s terrorising your life. Your reaction to stress means torturing yourself. If you can have an understanding of that feeling inside you, you calm it. Pour some enduring love on your fears and doubts, and they give up their grip.
For hard-working, driven people, self-compassion will change you for the better. Your work ethic has taught you to be tough on yourself. Hidden beneath it is an insecurity that you don’t measure up; it propels you to berate yourself as a way of staying motivated. Your goals are a constant reminder that you have more work to do.
As long as any part of you believes you're not good enough, you will always have to try harder. Just to get by. The more you jab yourself with criticism, the more motivated you are to keep the self-degrading banter flowing. Your stress cycle loves this, as it pours adrenaline into your system and keeps you on high alert. Stress only fires up in uncertainty, and it uses that feeling to prolong its friction.
If you are finding yourself negative, try being kind to yourself for a week. Self-compassion sends stress on a sabbatical. Tension doesn't need to put you on alert because compassion lets your insides know that you are not struggling with your survival.
It gives positive emotions a chance to make an appearance.
Here’s how you create a self-compassion routine:
You need to develop a tender voice that surrounds your insides when you are stressed out:
Notice when you feel bad.
Bring the feeling into you, don’t fight it or deny it. Accept it.
Now smother it with love.
Tell yourself everything is going to be ok. You may be having a bad experience but not a bad life. It’s natural to struggle with challenging emotions.
When you feel the emotion let up, fill yourself with positive, grateful thoughts.
Move on with your day with this intention.
At first, it takes practice, and it gets easier.
Dr Kristin Neff is a self-compassion researcher; she suggests the following components to self-compassionate words.
THE WORDS OF COMPASSION:
To be kind to yourself, you need to speak to yourself the way you would a good friend who is struggling. You wouldn't be harsh, blaming or critical. Kind words are soothing. They comfort you. There are some core elements to compassionate terms:
-They tell you everything will be ok. Kindness to yourself remind you this is just a bump in the road and you will get through it. Compassion gives you hope.
-Kind words tell you it is not your fault. Even if you’re the one who messed up, likely you didn’t do it on purpose. Things don't always go as planned, and you are not the core of the conflict. Circumstances change, and you can’t control them.
-Kind words remind you this situation is challenging, and it’s natural to struggle. When we are hard on ourselves, we tend to isolate and think this struggle is unique to us. It’s not. Everybody struggles in the same way; it’s human nature. Life is not perfect. The grass is not greener on the other side; everybody experiences the emotions you experience. Isolating yourself in challenging situations will call in stress. The struggle is natural; it’s familiar to everyone. You’re not alone.
When I struggle with anything self-defeating, I use these words to help me climb into the now. I notice and accept the feelings of defeat. I remind myself they are normal. I relate to how the situation is challenging and that it would be for anyone. Next, I give myself hope and know that I will get through this.
Just like any climb outside yourself, the goal is to use acceptance to bring emotions into the NOW. Compassion is one of your best advocates to do it.
Okay, climbers, be good to yourself this next week. Make it your intention to spread kind words to yourself anytime you feel bad, or stress grabs hold of you.
Keynote Speaker Jody Urquhart