Celebrating the small successes-flex your mindfulness muscle

victory

I managed to get off my posterior and get some packing done. I actually got quite a bit accomplished today. Just as I sat down I caught it. There was my inner critic, ready to jump on me for what I didn’t get done.

“Good job, but you would’ve gotten much more done if you wouldn’t have stayed up so late last night,” Just as it started, I caught it. I noticed my negative inner voice getting ready to hop on a tangent and I stopped it in its tracks before it had a chance to grab hold of my emotions.

The sooner I notice the negative thoughts start, the sooner I can turn them around before they have a chance to impact my mood. Realizing my thoughts have such a huge impact on my mood, I try to be mindful of them. As soon as I recognize the negativity start, I try to stop it, look for a positive in the situation and change it around before it has a chance to turn my mood sour.

Acknowledging the impact of my thoughts is the first step. The second step is just as important, and that is being mindful of my thoughts as they occur, before they take control. This is not always an easy task, but I have noticed that mindfullness is like a muscle, the more I practice it, the stronger I gets. Hopefully, with practice, my mindfullness will be strong enough to stop the negative self-talk before it even starts.

My dad gave me some advice when I first got married, “Never go to bed angry.” I like to apply a similar idea here. I don’t like to just stop the negative thought and stop there, I feel like that ends things on a negative thought. Two of them actually, the original negative self-talk comment and the guilt or other negative thought that results from realizing I just did it. In order to end it on a more positive note, I have to turn it in to a positive thought, “Great job packing today, you got more done than you thought you would, you got a lot done.”

This reframing the negative helps me end the experience on a positive note. That small celebration actually motivated me to take a little break and then go back and do more. I spent a couple more hours packing. Turns out, my old habit of berating myself for lack of perfection actually sabotages future success. When I chose to end it on the more forgiving and compassionate, positive note, it prompted me to want to do more. Could it be that changing or reframing my thoughts could help me procrastinate less too? I guess that part remains in question. But, I can’t deny that as I happily whistled to some tunes while getting more work done, I couldn’t help but notice how smoothly everything was going with my improved mood.

It is not an exact science, I still think negative thoughts and I don’t always catch them right away, sometimes not at all. Simply the fact that I am doing better at recognizing the thoughts as they happen is an accomplishment. The impact though, the improved mood, the lighter feeling as I go about my work.. that gives me motivation to be even more mindful of my thoughts.

Just as my negative thoughts cause a negative mood and it becomes a viscous cycle, my positive reframing improved my mood and made me want more of that positive self-affirmation. I guess the seven dwarfs were on to something when they sang, “whistle while you work.” Changing my thoughts did change my mood which in turn made me do exactly what I was getting ready to berate myself for not doing… more work. I think I will call it a bliss cycle, instead of the old viscous cycle. It really does work.

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