I am on several journeys…
-to live more authentically
-to live life more abundantly and as depression free as possible
-to learn discipline by taking control of my compulsive habits
-to find balance between chasing my dreams and active motherhood
-to practice gratitude
That last one nearly flew out the window altogether this morning when I woke up to discover my car not in the neighborhood parking spot where I left it. Lately I have been meditating on what I am grateful for in an effort to combat my negative thinking. If I don’t reel in my negative thoughts they have the tendency to spiral out into full blown mental distress, so taking a moment to think about what IS going right in my life has been helping me to curve my thoughts. However, once I realized my car had been towed I knew I was in for a stressful day. My morning alone consisted of several calls to the bank to release funds from a check, several cab rides (to the bank, home, bank, towing place) and countless deep breaths of me just trying not to snap. Focusing on the positive was not helping me, I had to dig down into the nasty stuff.
I was feeling resentful. I resent that small setbacks have the power to mentally derail me. I resent that sometimes I don’t get to take the mental health breaks that I need to recharge. I resent that when I have to cancel an event or obligation I have to reveal to others that I am not doing as well as I’d like to be doing or as well as I sometimes portray. I resent that I have to decide whether to let the kids know when things are going wrong or whether I should hide it from them and continue to pretend everything is ok. I want to be transparent with them but I also don’t want them to worry that I don’t have a grip on my responsibilities as their parent. These were the thoughts crowding my mind and causing anxiety– yet somehow, by naming my thoughts and the feelings of resentment behind them I began to feel a little better.
I realize I was only doing half the work. Practicing gratitude is not the sunshine and rainbows of thinking only happy thoughts to push away the negative thoughts. The first step is to name the negative emotions, feel the negative emotions then to counter them with thoughts of gratitude. At least, this was the epiphany for me this morning and a formula I have found that is vital to my healing, coping and growth process. I have to feel and completely expel emotions by identifying them first, acknowledging why I feel the way I do and then thinking of positive aspects of my life I am grateful and thankful for that put me in a position to recover more quickly from potential depressive episodes.
What’s eating you? Write about your different moods you have felt over the last few months. Is there anything weighing on your mind or subconscious? Are you in any physical pain? Is there a negative recurring thought that you have yet to address? If so, what do you suspect are the possible triggers? (Are you burned out? Stressed? Fearful of happiness? Etc)
What’s feeding you? Write about what’s made you smile over the last few months. Is there a consistent need in your life that is currently being fulfilled? How are you better off than you were the previous few months? Make a list of what you are grateful for. (This can be a living list that you add to throughout the day or over a period of time. There is no pressure to come up with a lengthy list right away!)
Tip: Definitely stay away from comparison to others. Gratitude has to do with personal progress, people, situations and things that you are grateful for in your own life whether considered a huge deal to other people or something small and seemingly insignificant that still warms your heart. You are free to take pleasure and find accomplishment in even the little things!
Bonus: I am also on a journey of practicing self-compassion. I am aware that I am functionally depressed to some degree and keeping up the façade of wellness takes its toll on me. The best way for me to go a little easy on myself is by realizing that I am not alone in this battle. Click here, to read an amazing blog post about high functioning depression and I challenge you to go a little easy on yourself. You are not alone. Life can be difficult– it is totally ok to admit as much while putting in the work that it takes to be ok. The road to wellness may be difficult but I am determined to believe that it is well worth it.
I apologize I couldn’t make the workshop today, but I will plan to see you Saturday, March 23!
Good Vibes Always