How to mindfully navigate a really bad day.
Today was a really bad day.
I fell so deep into a spiral of destructive thoughts that I cried in the bathroom at work.
Here’s how I mindfully navigated my way out of it.
I woke up with something hurtful on my mind.
I did my best to change my thoughts by focusing on the good in my life, enjoying my morning walk with Raven (aka best dog in the world) & distracting myself with a very busy day at work.
But, the hurtful thoughts were still there, in the background where I could feel them, despite my best efforts to push them aside.
That’s because you can’t force your thoughts away.
I had forgotten the very important first step in mindfulness.
Notice & simply be present with the thoughts & feelings you’re experiencing.
Actually I didn’t forget, I just thought that I could override my thoughts because I was SO good at this mindfulness thing.
No one is that good.
No matter how much you meditate, or how many affirmations you say, or people or things or activities you distract yourself with – you will always have ups & downs in your thoughts & in your experiences in your life.
You have to learn how to accept whatever you’re going through in each moment.
That’s because every thought, every situation, everything will eventually pass.
But when you resist something, you hold on to it, even when you think you’re doing the opposite by trying to keep it out.
It’s only when you fully accept whatever you’re experiencing that it can pass right through you.
Acceptance allows you to flow with life because you’re not holding on to anything.
While no one will ever escape the ups & downs of life, we all can get really good at moving through everything with grace & ease.
So, as I sat in the bathroom crying & feeling so much despair, I started taking slow deep breaths, calming my emotions down & noticing the content of my thoughts.
I just listened. I listened as my thoughts told story after story of incredibly harsh self-judgment.
I would never speak to anyone the way I was talking to myself. And I would never stand for anyone to say those things to me, much less believe them.
Yet, here I was, crying in the bathroom at work, because for the past several hours, beyond my full awareness, I was believing all of my self-loathing, unconscious thoughts.
I didn’t try to quiet them, or consciously tell myself anything. I just listened.
I didn’t judge myself for having those thoughts, or for the emotions I was feeling, or even for crying in the bathroom at work, I just noticed what was happening.
After awhile, noticing allowed me to see my destructive mental habit.
Severe self-judgment. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Nothing I was saying was true, or relevant to what I really want.
Those thoughts were just a well-grooved habit of critical self-judgment.
Awareness takes the power away from your thoughts & gives it back to you.
It’s just like when Dorothy looks behind the curtain & sees the wizard for who he really is.
Now that I knew, it was time for the next step.
Choose a new approach, a new way to deal with the hurt that comes from being let down by someone.
Something different than blaming myself for another’s actions.
Then, create a new pattern by repeatedly choosing this new approach.
And repetition will be necessary, because those grooved habits of thought are deep & stubborn.
It takes dedicated diligence to groove new ones.
I started interrupting my destructive thoughts by acknowledging them & addressing them.
I told them I hear you, but you’re nothing more than a thought & you’re definitely not true & I’m choosing a new way to think about this, & everything else.
I want more than this & I’m going to give it to myself.
I know these thoughts are just a disturbing story, one I can continue or stop.
Then, I purposefully told myself things that shifted me out of critical judgment & into self-love.
Things like – I love how caring, thoughtful, kind, compassionate, sincere, resilient, determined, forgiving, motivated & passionate I am.
I truly love who I am. Really. And it’s taken 40 years for me to say that.
I just needed a reminder in this moment.
I thought about how this was just a challenging experience & how I’ve had many, many, many difficult experiences, most of them way worse than this one, & they all passed & then I felt good again.
My current track record for surviving & moving past painful emotions is 100%.
I decided that I didn’t want to allow this hurtful thing to cause me to beat myself up.
I wanted to love myself through it, not hate myself over it.
The unconscious mental habit I want to create for myself is –
Anytime something hurts, I deeply love myself.
And I’m more than capable of doing that, I’m just not very practiced in it.
So, today was simply practice.
Nothing more, nothing less.
After a little while, a mental & emotional shift occurred.
I stopped hurting.
I truly became grateful for the opportunity to release the self-judgment habit & groove the self-loving one.
Then, as I drove home, after a dreary cold day of rain, a breathtakingly beautiful pink & gold sunset radiated throughout the sky.
You get the comparison.
xoxo ~ Katie