Nip Negative Thinking

For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

negative thoughts

As much as I don’t want to be, I’m a pessimist. When I was in high school, I used to proudly proclaim, “Expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” Not exactly a slogan to live by.

Actually, I like to think of myself as a recovering pessimist. But, unfortunately, I have frequent relapses. Especially when I’m stressed.

I don’t have to write paragraphs to explain why negative thinking doesn’t help my stress levels. It’s just fuel on the fire.

So, I thought I’d turn negative into something positive. I made a little acrostic poem to remind myself that negative, pessimistic thinking isn’t helpful. More that that, whatever I’m thinking probably isn’t even true.

Not

Even

Gonna

Allow

Those

Inaccurate

Voices

(to) Encroach

Booya, negativity! I just made you into something positive.

(Haha! I think that’s probably the first (and hopefully only) time I’ve ever used the word “booya” in my life. Unfortunately for me, I put it in writing, so now this moment is immortal.)

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Parenting without the Pessimism

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Recently, I’ve developed a habit I’m not particularly proud of. On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve heard myself say, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m just going to (insert some overdramatic, blanket generalization).” For example, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m just going to feed my kids pseudo-food from McDonalds for every meal!” Or, “I don’t know why I’m wasting my time, I’m enrolling the kids in the local school tomorrow!”

I’m hoping it’s just the hormones (because I really don’t want to have to admit that this yucky behavior just developed from my otherwise charming personality), but, lately, I start feeling defeated so easily.

My hubby buys the kiddos a gatorade from the gas station on a road trip. Suddenly, I feel all my efforts to avoid certain ingredients have been undermined.

A family member exposes my kids to something I would prefer my children remain naive about for the present time. Now, I believe that all efforts to protect their innocence have been thwarted.

We have a day with less-than-stellar sharing skills, and I think all of my character building lessons have been a waste.

I don’t know why I’ve fallen into this pattern of pessimism and frustration, but I was so grateful to stumble upon this graphic last night before bed.  It was a message I really needed to hear/be reminded of. My efforts with my children do matter. Every effort, no matter how small. And, although they are going to see/hear/do things that contradict those efforts, my efforts are not in vain. The example I set matters. The lessons I teach matter. I am forming my children and helping them become who they were meant to be. Other influences matter, too, but they don’t void mine.

My hope is that this seemingly insignificant graphic has shaken me out of my little defeatist rut. It’s time to change my attitude and get back to parenting without the pessimism.

Overly Sensitive

I logged into Facebook just now to be greeted by this gem. At first glance I was like, “Aww my baby sister (Katie, the OP) is such a good auntie! And Jack will be super psyched to see he got a facebook shout-out!” But then I made the mistake of reading the comments.

Katie and Meghan are my sisters. I don't know Malinda and Casie.

Katie and Meghan are my sisters. I don’t know Malinda and Casie.

I already know what my husband will say when I tell him about this. He will say, “Why did you even give it a second thought? You don’t even know those other two girls. Who gives a d*m* what they think?!”

And I know I he’s right.

But it still bothers me.

This is super scaled back compared to what some women are bold enough to say, but it still bugs me. In fact, these women didn’t really say much at all; they just revealed their general attitudes about large families, and it struck an overly sensitive nerve within me.

I wonder what Casie (and Malinda who liked her charming, “Oh thank God”) would think if I chimed in with the truth of the matter: Yes, these six children are the product of three couples, but four of the six came from one family.

I wonder what they’d say if I mentioned that I don’t really believe I have a big family. Right now, we feel about normal to me. To me, (albeit, I’m aware that statistics say otherwise) we feel average.  Should we be blessed with another child, I think we’d be teetering towards big, but, even then, I’m not really sure that 5 kiddos is enough to be called BIG.

I just hate the attitudes of people in general. I hate that children are regarded as something bad. I hate that there’s some artificial limit  imposed by society on how many people make up an acceptable family. I hate that everyone I interact with thinks they can make jokes or comments or snide remarks about my children, my finances, and/or my sex life.

I know these girls didn’t technically do any of that. But it just struck a nerve. And, what can I say, I guess I’m overly sensitive about this stuff.

Happiness is a Choice

happiness is a choiceI try so hard not to allow myself to be sucked into the negativity that permeates our society. For whatever reason, I seem to be particularly vulnerable to it. I’ve never been prone to jumping out of bed with a smile, eager to greet the day. My mind tends to jump to the worst possible scenario most of the time. I partially blame my upbringing; my family is very negative. However, the fact is, I’m an adult now and only I have control of my thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Prior to my involvement with Mary Kay, I don’t even think I realized there was another way. My motto for as long as I could remember was “expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed.” I enviously watched the “optimists,” fully aware that I was a “pessimist,” and came to the conclusion that it must be genetic; some people are just born happy and lucky. I am so thankful that I’ve since learned otherwise.

My favorite thing about Mary Kay (other than how perfect my skin always looks) is the women. The women who work with and around Mary Kay are the most positive, supportive, enthusiastic, Christian women on the planet. Never before Mary Kay had I ever been in an environment like that, barring a few weekend church retreats or whatnot. But these women aren’t just positive, supportive and enthusiastic at a retreat or on Sundays or at special times or events. That’s how they live their lives. That’s how they raise their kids. That’s how they manage their homes, careers and social relationships. These women are phenomenal and I am so blessed to have them in my life to learn from.

These women opened my eyes to what life is supposed to be like. They are the ones who introduced me to positive thinking. They taught me that “what you think about you bring about.” So my “expect the worst” philosophy was creating just that, the “worst” in most situations. They taught me how to feed my mind with positive books, cds and people. They taught me the importance of surrounding myself with “balcony people” and avoiding “basement people.” They helped me to see that I was a “basement person” and desperately needed to change if I had any hopes of being happy and passing on happiness to my children.

Never in my wildest dreams had I ever considered that happiness was a choice. I thought happiness or lack thereof was merely a result of the hand you’d been dealt in life. I knew there must be an exception, as I’d seen and heard of very poor or very sick people with very sunny dispositions. I didn’t know how they got that way. I thought maybe God just made them special so they could be an example of some kind to the rest of the world.

Thanks to meeting my MK mentors, I make every effort to expose myself only to positive people. I only read positive literature. I avoid negative programing on tv. My “friends” on facebook who only post status updates to complain are blocked from my newsfeed. I listen to uplifting music and inspirational speakers on cd. But, as I said earlier, I seem to be so vulnerable to getting sucked back into the negativity. It seems so easy to fall into a “woe is me” mentality. I make a conscious effort to curtail those thoughts with prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

I truly am blessed beyond measure. When looking at my life objectively, I know I have no room for complaint. I have been given so much and am so very fortunate. The fact is, most of us are. If you’re reading this, you most definitely are. Despite our daily struggles, our lives are a cakewalk. Why, then, is our society so negative? There’s evidence of it on it on tv, in the papers and in the general attitudes of most people. What do we have to be so darn unhappy about?

My first thought was, “If I knew the answer to that, I would probably become a very wealthy woman.” But upon further reflection, I think I do know the answer and, unfortunately, it will not make me a wealthy woman. It won’t even make me popular. In fact, upon reading my conclusion, I predict some will discredit this entire entry. What, then, is the reason we are so drawn toward negativity?

Satan.

Yes, Satan. He’s the father of lies. If keeps us convinced that our lives are terrible, awful, unlucky excuses for an existence, how much easier will it be for him to lead us to sin? It must be much harder to convince someone who praises God in good times and in bad to lead a sinful life. Obviously, being human, there will always be some sin in each of our lives, but living on purpose for God tends to rule out some of the bigger ones. That must really make him mad. Because of the materialistic, self-centered and often times negative world we live in, it must make his head reel to witness someone choose to be grateful and positive despite their daily circumstances.

No wonder that “woe is me” voice keeps creeping back in. I’ve deliberately chosen to live my life in a way that is harder for the devil to attack. If he could just get me back to that “expect the worse” place where I constantly make excuses for everything and accept responsibility for little, his job would be much easier. I don’t know about you, but that just makes me even more resolved to cling to positivity and gratefulness. It definitely feels better to live with a positive outlook, so I don’t know why I allow myself to be tempted to revert back to the negative. Somehow in the emotion of the moment, I seem to think it’s easier to just let go and expect the worst, but, clearly, that’s the work of the Father of Lies.