A guest blog submission by Karen Schlaegel.
At the time of writing, the world is going through a pandemic. The Corona virus is dominating the news worldwide. It’s something we have never experienced and it is affecting every single one of us (without a doubt, some more than others).
And while the pandemic is unprecedented in this form, we all know and have experienced that life can be tough. We have all faced challenges of varying degrees. And when I say “challenges”, I also mean heart-breaking pain that at times seems all-consuming and which we feel we’ll never recover from. So, is it cynical to talk about staying positive in times of crisis? Is it even feasible?
While I agree that even during our darkest moments, we can take away a life lesson, a positive mindset to me doesn’t mean that we should push away feelings of pain and simply plaster over them with “positive feelings”. Cultivating a positive attitude does not equal denial of everything else nor does it mean forcing ourselves to look for the positives in everything.
So, what does a positive mindset look like then? And is it something we can maintain during our darkest moments or do we need to accept that it becomes useless during crisis times like these? I personally believe a positive mindset makes a huge difference to how we live our lives and how we cope with shitstorms. But it really mustn’t be mistaken for being happy all the time.
Here are the elements that I consider crucial in cultivating a positive mindset and the combination of which helps me personally to navigate life’s “challenges” (aka shitstorms).
- Feel it all.
This can be tough. Much tougher than it sounds. I certainly have the tendency of wanting to avoid painful emotions. We sometimes feel that if we let ourselves feel the pain fully, we’ll never recover. We feel it’s too much to endure. But trying to suppress them just means that they’ll resurface again. And again. Try to sit with all feelings. Cry and scream if you feel like it. Breathe mindfully to get yourself through the storm of emotions raging inside.
- Acceptance and self-compassion
We often exacerbate our feelings by getting frustrated with ourselves. When the whole Corona crisis kicked off, I had a few very heavy days. I felt very scared. At the same time, I also felt shame and guilt to even feel that way, when others were putting their lives at risks every single day – while I was sat safely at home. You are most likely always going to find somebody who is worse off than you – but that doesn’t take away your pain and it doesn’t make your feelings any less valid. It can certainly help to put things into perspective, but it does not help to condemn ourselves for feeling them in the first place (by the way, this also applies to judging other people’s feelings ). We need to accept our feelings as they are. And just as you would with a...
She’s a sneaky little b…it….ch! I can’t even write a gratitude list without her criticism. Ugh. Nona, always chirping in my ear.
Nona is my ever present Inner Critic. The first step in managing her bitchy cacophony is separating myself from her abusive banter. As convincing as she may sound, she is NOT me.
As part of an end of my year reflection process, I created a gratitude list. When you do this type of thing you don’t force the process. My goal was ten things I am grateful for TODAY.
First observation. It was hard to get to 10 items.
- I survived heartbreak.
- My divine Soul-sisters.
- My sons and our relationship.
- I can support myself.
Breathe. Get curious. Keep going. Here’s three more.
- I’m optimistic by nature.
- Food, shelter, clean water, medical care.
- My empathy.
Pausing. My brain is blank. Pausing…….. Only 3 more!
- I’m a natural leader.
Why is this so hard? I have a great life!
- My higher power, angels, guides and protectors.
Only one more…..
OK, got it.
- My willingness to learn!
Nona is shaming me for taking 33 minutes to come up with ten items. And now comes feelings of embarrassment. I ask myself, why aren’t I more thankful for other people or things? This list is mostly about being grateful for ME.
And here’s where Nona gets going…….. OMG why are you so selfish? Why are you grateful for “I can support myself” and “Your willingness to learn”? Why is it always about you? This is dumb.
This is an old groove I fall into because the tunes been with me far longer than it has not. Nona asks why I pump up my chest and talk about myself.
“Because it’s MY gratitude list! Of course it’s all about me! Nona, you just worry too much.”
Do I sit in blame, shame and guilt? At times, yes, but it’s not where I take up residence. I spend far less time in those shadows. Again, “going small” is a familiar place but it doesn’t serve me to retreat.
I am aware. I allow the feelings to surface. I’m curious.
1. I survived heartbreak.
2. My Soulful women’s community.
3. My boy’s and our relationship.
4. I can support myself.
5. I’m optimistic by nature.
6. I have food, shelter, clean water and medical care.
7. My empathy for others.
8. I am a natural leader.
9. My higher power guides, angels, protectors and spirits.
10. My willingness to learn.
I'm feeling much better now that Nona and I had this talk. Have you given your Inner Critic a name? It makes is so much easier to have these conversations when you know who you are talking to. Remember don’t believe everything you think or what your NONA-voice tells you!
From the heart,
I love birthdays! In fact, I usually have a big birthday bash but this year I am feeling a little quiet, a little more contemplative. As a gift to both myself and to my followers, I have special surprises lined up in the month of November. Think of it as a little sunshine coming from my keyboard to your screen. A dose of quirky humor and a whole lot of moxy! Dive inside my head for a virtual our of Cara 2.0!
If you use Periscope (live streaming interactive video chats), you can find me a few times a week broadcasting with a motivational group called #Peri10k. I feel so “with it” to be using this technology! I actually was on Periscope before my kids were – an AWESOME feeling. Yes, I proudly still use AOL account but my Periscope account balances it out! Retro and Hip, right?
Happy Birthday to me! I wish us all an abundance of the “5 C’s”:
If you enjoy reading My Girlfriend Voice, I would be very appreciative if you signed up to follow me by email — the link is towards the upper right hand corner of the web page. I promise not to SPAM you! I won’t sell your email address unless you make me really angry. Ha!
With giggles and mucho moxy,
Hello there friends! Wondering where the heck I have been? Well, let me tell you, I have been “embracing change”. So as I nurse my heat wave induced headache and my second pineapple margarita, I am happy to bring you up to date.
My friend Jo asks me what is going on with my divorce or rather the “UN-divorce”. Don’t you love that? The divorce that never progresses! Despite the tease of mediation, I still have nothing substantial to report. I got sidetracked when I found out I had to move. I will get to the divorce as soon as I recharge my tanks. Lesson learned? What does a piece of paper have to do with my happiness? Nothing unless of course we are talking about a settlement check. :0
Let me say a little more about Jo, a friend from my first days in California (notice how I didn’t say OLD friend?) We haven’t seen each other in a very long time. What is miraculous is that we had lived in the same neighborhood for the past two years without running into each other. As soon as I move to a new place, we see each other at a local grocery counter during lunch! Twenty six years ago she gave me a place to stay when I arrived here all white bread and corn fed from the Midwest. She is still as genuine as ever and I consider it such a gift to have reconnected. Lesson learned? It was’tn by chance we ran into each other. It was meant to be. I needed to feel grounded.
Yes, my big move. With little notice, I was told the house I was renting was going on the market. Nothing like being thrown head first into a big stressor but then again, I firmly believed that there would be something good awaiting me. Three weeks later when another friend Katy found me at the gas station searching for a Tootsie Roll at 10pm in tears, she reminded me of the power of visualization. After sucking down the candy, I wrote out exactly what I wanted in my new home and hung it on my refrigerator. One day later the perfect townhouse was listed on Craig’s List and I grabbed it. It was meant to be. Lesson learned? VISUALIZE while eating a Tootsie Roll.
Now that I had the move conquered, it was time to put a little attention to romance. Why several gentlemen couldn’t see my “fabulousity” (a Real Housewives word!) is a mystery to me but it is clearly their loss! Finally I met a fine man I’ll call Mr. Sweetness. We had a record three dates only to find out that there is this little thing between us that I find incompatible. Today I am bummed out, feeling the letdown. The excitement and attention made my 50 year old brain feel 15 again. Mr. Sweetness gives me hope that there are other wonderful, communicative men in the world! I will get back on the horse (stallion preferred) and keep trying! Lesson learned? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
There were a few other things going on too like a minor surgery, seeing a loved one’s resilience after relapse and wondering if I would still be employed by end of...
I am celebrating Olympic Gold here in the Zen Den!!!
Twenty five years ago I moved to California and in a blink twenty five years later, I am starting again—my way. In just the last two years I have experienced a move, a new job, the death of a parent and deciding to move forward on my divorce PLUS I became an empty nester all while facing my 50th birthday. If I recounted all that has happened in the last five or ten years—you’d swear I was a reading straight from the pages of a great work of fiction. Too much drama for one person to endure!
Therefore, to celebrate the trials and tribulations of my last quarter century, I am awarding myself Gold medals in the categories of Mental Gymnastics and Emotional Track and Field. I have performed like a champion!
Hands down, this is the happiest time of my life. Why you ask? Because I learned that being happy begins with the intention of being happy; then you have to make happy happen. Make more happy, think less crappy. (I have not been drinking (much) today.)
I minimize, eliminate and avoid the things that don’t make me happy. Let me clarify, I don’t avoid responsibility. I live through uncomfortable moments and learn from them. I refuse to be victimized by my struggles. Where there is pain there is growth whether I am ready for it or not. I don’t grin and bear it but rather I grit my teeth and swear.
I also laugh at the weirdest moments. Like when I walked into the county jail to visit someone only to realize I was wearing my bright red 4th of July tank top that said, in sequins no less, “I Love Freedom”. I didn’t plan this of course—I wouldn’t be that insensitive. There lies the funny.
I also thanked a quiet man who approached me in the grocery store yesterday to say, “Your aura is huge and warm and that of a healer. Standing next to you I feel just as good as when I am home cuddling with my eight cats.” I kid you not. It was a “bless your heart” moment –more sweet than creepy. I’ve decided that I may be a super hero in disguise and since the name Kittylicious is already taken, you can call me Madam Meow. Is this funny or is it just me??
Or the time I was standing in the library when a wiry four foot tall silver haired elder grabbed a book right out of my hands saying she had seen it first, she just needed time to walk across the room to pick take if off the shelf. One of the few times I found myself speechless! Had to laugh at that one…. I was bullied by a tiny granny!
The brain is pliable and can be rewired for positivity after just a few weeks of concerted effort. If you feel that you have nothing to celebrate, look again. You may be looking for miracles while missing...