I like to get dressed in to my figurative positivity pants every day. I like to start my day on the right foot, practise gratitude, meditate, journal and feel happy and positive about the day ahead. When I explain the Law of Attraction to people my explanation is this;
If you wake up and tell yourself you’re going to have a bad day, guess what? You’re probably going to have a bad day.
If you wake up and tell yourself you’re going to have a good day, guess what? You’re probably going to have a good day!
This is the reason I start my day with gratitude and journaling. It instantly lifts my mood and makes me feel amazing. It’s like these small actions of self-care and gratitude first thing on waking acts like me putting on my metaphorical positivity pants. I loved Super Girl and Wonder Woman as a child and when I start my day like this, it’s like I’m putting on their super hero pants and I am invincible.
Are You Shitting in Your Positivity Pants?
A friend of mine got a bit of unexpected news last week which really upset her. It’s not for me to discuss what it was but let’s just say she was really disappointed and very sad about it too. She wanted to talk about it, shout about it, rant about it and get angry. I knew she needed that space to air her ‘shit’. I was also very cautious about what I said about it all. Listening instead of fixing is hard, but I’m getting better at it.
Another thing I’m getting better at in these situations is knowing when to apply a positive spin, when to just shut the fuck up and when to muscle in with a friendly but firm “No, we need to moan and move on now!”
Being the eternal optimist, I’ve come to realise that being able to flick the switch of positivity and turning any negative into a positive is a superpower of mine. However, I’m well aware that it can also be really fucking annoying and sometimes not appropriate.
If you’ve just had some bad news that, for example, has left you in tears, up awake all night and worrying about your future then the last thing you want to hear is some unhelpful positivity along the lines of;
“You’ll see! In the future, you’ll realise it’s meant to be!”
“It will all work out for the best”
“Plenty more fish in the sea”
“How can you flip it into a positive?”
Or the other tactic which I really can’t stand is to compare their situation to other people less fortunate. I’ve seen this with friends who suffer with their mental health. I’ve got one friend who hasn’t got a pot to piss in who struggles – they get a lot of sympathy and people feel for them. Then I have another friend who is very wealthy who has struggled with depression and it boils my piss when I hear people say “What’s he got to be depressed about?”
If you’re in it, if you’re feeling like shit, no amount of comparison to someone else’s situation is going to make you feel better. Why should you downplay your feelings just because someone else has it worse?
You took a pay cut in COVID but “At least you have a job!” doesn’t help when you have bills to pay.
You’ve lost your job but “At least you are healthy!” doesn’t help when you are now sick with worry about your future employability.
You got sick but “At least you’re alive!” really doesn’t fucking help when you can’t focus due to pain or worry.
Those kinds of false positives are a bag of bollocks and should be avoided at all costs.
You Have to Sometimes Sit in Your Shit
When something bad happens in your life, it’s OK to sit in your shit for a bit. You’re perfectly allowed to feel bad about it and be upset.
In fact, I actively encourage you to. Because if you paint a mask on and fake positivity, that underlying current of anger will bubble away under the surface until your mask cracks and falls, like some dodgy Phantom of the Opera tribute.
I wore a mask for over three decades. I was so good at wearing that damn mask and hiding how I really felt with fake humour, fake happiness and fake positivity. It was inevitable that one day the mask would crumble away.
These days, thanks to coaching, soul searching, continuous self-development and spaffing a shit load of money at sorting out my mental health, I know the answer for me personally for getting over the hard, unfair, unjust, upsetting and worrying things in life is to sit in my shit and really feel it – only for a short time, but I fully allow myself to. I actively give myself permission to go and sit in my shit.
My Sitting in Shit Alarm
If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know my number one productivity gadget of choice is my trusty mechanical egg timer. In addition to the ticking of my twisty timer to keep me on track with my work or chores, I also use it for a timer to allow me to sit in my shit.
I know this sounds insane, but it works for me.
Let’s say I’m upset. Something has happened and I’m pissed off or freaking out. I usually do this when I’m crying and can’t seem to stop. I turn the timer to 5 mins, put Eva Cassidy’s I Know You By Heart on loud. This song always makes me cry so this also works if I’ve been feeling upset or sad or frustrated and I want to let some of my shitty negative emotions out. As soon as that first verse kicks in, ending on “lights up your face in orange and gold…” I’ve gone.
I let myself let it all out. Loudly. I don’t hold anything back. I’m not a punch a pillow and scream kind of person, I am an uglier crier. So I do just that. My face scrunches up and my eyes burn red as the big fat sobs and full on snot starts.
It also doesn’t have to be as dramatic so that it causes tears. It can be trivial things that have just got on top of me, or my hormones going a bit haywire. The point is, I just allow myself that space and time to feel all the negativity, annoyance and upset.
Something weird happens every time I ‘allow’ myself to do this and remember to set an alarm. I feel like a fucking idiot after about 3 minutes and I stop. I just stop crying and I instantly feel better. This has worked every time I’ve done it.
I’m not saying this is some kind of revolution that is also guaranteed to work for you. I know I mentioned about not comparing your shit to others above but I have to mention here that some people, especially right now in these recent times are going through some REALLY hard stuff. I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence by telling you to set an egg timer like you’re making dippy egg and soldiers and cry to some posthumously famous singer and it will all be OK.
I’m just saying that in my weird and wonderful head this little trick does THE trick for me to let me fully immerse myself in my shit. It’s like I turn on the tap, let it out until I am up to the eyeballs in my emotions, and then I drain the tank dry. It stops, I stop and I feel better. Whenever I feel the worry and anxiety creeping back in and I can feel myself being a negative Nelly, shitting in my positivity pants about whatever is happening for me, I repeat the exercise. On goes Eva Cassidy, on the tears turn or out the annoyance flows and on we go with my method for getting myself out of shitting in my positivity pants.
Don’t Sit in your Shit for Too Long
The problem is when we hold onto those negative emotions and allow them to rule us. That’s when it’s like continuously shitting in your positivity pants.
Going back to my friend at the start of this story, after a week of her soiling her own positivity pants every day and choosing to focus on all the negativity surrounding her situation she came to me and said “I’m sick of being a miserable arse” so I knew at that moment it was time to teach her the best ways to put her own figurative positivity pants each morning.
Even though she looked at me like I was on crack, to my surprise, she went with my suggestion of 10 things every morning she’s grateful for. I asked her to make them different each day. This exercise can be hard at first but when you realise that there are no rules and you can be grateful for even the most stupid and small things, you can’t help but feel more positive.
She’s put things down like the washing machine and a fridge full of lovely food and these small, seemingly once unimportant things are changing her mood every day along with the big things like her family and her work. It’s been magical to witness and I’m so proud of her for learning how to stop shitting in her positivity pants every day. I’m proud to report that she’s wearing a gleaming clean new pair every day. Gratitude isn’t a magic fix to sadness or unhappiness, but it does have this ability to just make you feel that little bit more uplifted, loving and appreciative.
As ever, this blog has inspired this week’s #WankyQuoteWednesday
Have a great week.
If you need to change your pants, go do it. Your choice.
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Gemma Ray is a BBC Radio presenter, best selling author, communications coach and always the most filthy person in a WhatsApp group chat. Gemma tells it like it is and opens up about the stuff most people would never even dare admit to themselves, let alone put out in public.
Join Gemma on a refreshingly honest, powerful and inspirational journey of self love, self belief and self trust through her books, blog and free Facebook accountability group where she helps members take action on their goals.
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