Shitstorms + Sunshine: 4 Questions To Rescue You From A Negative Holding Pattern
When I was 24, I was convinced I had the worst luck ever. That I was irresponsible, clumsy, and losing the adult game. Mostly when it had to do with my car. That year, my old car broke down three times in a span of two weeks. The third time was in the middle of a downpour, the transmission had blown out, and it was revealed that my car had been a lemon. My new car got its hubcaps stolen (who does that?) over and over again for a good five months as I was subletting from a friend. After I moved to an incredibly safe neighborhood, it got broken into and I was robbed of my filled-to-the-brim gym bag, which I had left inside for a good few years with no repercussions. I moved again. Broken into again. And all the while I’d call my best friends crying: I’ve gained weight (I had). So-and-so is bulling me (they were). I don’t have money (I didn’t).
Honestly, I’m almost surprised this negative loop I was in didn’t have harsher consequences – and so thankful it didn’t. Even moreso, though, I’m thankful I got my act together enough to see a pattern in the loop – to see that none of this was random whatsoever.
Today we’re getting down n’ dirty not only when it comes to crushing negativity, but when it comes to putting an end to the negative patterns you’re seeing pop up over and over and over again in your life.
Sometimes we get so used to saying the same negative phrases and complaints on repeat that instead of being problems to solve, they morph into statements without answers. We’ll say things as if they’re “just how it is,” blurting out these definitives so often they become etched in our vocabulary. Our fallbacks when things aren’t going our way.
And then there’s the patterns. The negative, disheartening, discouraging patterns of small-yet-huge occurrences that make you feel like you can’t catch a break, or worse yet, that “this would only happen to me.”
If you keep finding yourself in the same ruts over and over again (as so many of us do), same dissatisfactions, same problems, ask yourself…
1.) What in my life outside of this problem is so out of balance that there is this external manifestation here, trying to alert me to the fact that something is out of whack?
Our lives are in a constant state of energy exchange. And in this energy exchange, the currencies might look different but are all of equal value. I don’t want to call this “karma,” because it’s not as if you’re “getting what you deserve” (what a mean way of looking at things). Think of it as more of a universe-al red flag: if you’re not using your energy to address the imbalances in your life, whether they be at home, at work, in your physical/mental health or your relationships, the world starts to take notice of the avoidance and match the level of avoidance with its warning signals.Take an honest peek at your relationship with work, with your community, with your partners and most importantly, with your self. And then be proactive – not reactive. Right away, do one thing, however tiny, that can signal to the universe that yep, you’ve got this.
2.) Am I searching for some kind of validation (or attention or sympathy), or am I truly interested in a shift – do I like the reality of shifting or do I like the drama of trying to constantly figure it out?
Many times, we’ll use negativity as a bonding tactic. Negative feelings, thoughts, and phrases are “emotionally heavy,” meaning they make us feel and react in a very specific, sensitized way. Those create drama. And you don’t need me or WANT to tell you that as humans, we are drawn to drama. Whether we love it or hate it is besides the point – drama conjures up very strong reactions from all of us. Since others are drawn to drama, you’re pretty likely to get a reaction when you say something negative. If you’re truly interested in making a shift, your thoughts and words can be a way for you to figure things out. But only you know what you’re truly interested in, and if the reality of making a shift is truly something you want – and will work to get.
3.) Am I using complaints or grievances to keep me in a safe zone or distract myself and convince myself I’m doing something to activate true, lasting change?
Another thing about negative talk, specifically complaints and grievances about yourself or others, is that it’s incredibly distracting. Distracting and convincing. It’s a form of procrastination, really – like staring at a computer screen for an entire day with Gmail and WordPress or Excel or whatever in one window and all the social media channels you follow in another, then telling yourself at the end of the day you were trying to work. Sure, you checked your email a few times and filled out a few sentences on your latest project, but if you were to really look at your day, you spent more time on social media doing “research” than actually getting down and doing the work. Don’t let the way you speak of your life get in the way of you actually living it.
4.) What’s my priority?
Now that you’ve identified what’s out of balance, if you’re actually interested in change, and if you’re using your negative talk as a distraction, it’s time to figure out what you DO want. And moreover – if you’re making it a priority. I’ll let you take it from here.
When I was 24, I was convinced I had the worst luck ever. I had a lemon car, I had a car with highly-coveted hubs, I got my windows smashed in twice. I was out of money and I was gaining weight. In reality, I was not irresponsible, clumsy, or losing at the adult game. I was coming to the realization that everything I thought I wanted out of my life wasn’t actually what I wanted it to be. I was transitioning career paths, work environments, friend groups, and a whole stage of my life I wasn’t sure yet if I wanted to leave behind. I was spending to make myself happy and was eating to distract me from my lonely uncertainty. I was getting into arguments with people I loved, and was rarely speaking my truth. The vague feeling of rightness in my life was being overshadowed by an even louder feeling of discontent. I was in transition getting to where I needed to go. Of course my main mode of transportation was breaking down on me time and again: I had to figure out my internal GPS.
25 – really, 25.5 – hit, and I found a job, one that started to morph into a career. I decided I was sick of complaints, sick of sidelining myself, and sick of feeling uncomfortable inside and out. I stood up to the people (unknowingly) pushing me around, as awkward as it was. They still loved me. I distanced myself from situations that made me feel weak or lesser-than. I still had places to go be myself. I realized my priorities were not what I thought they once were, and started putting the things I felt strongly about, so strongly, felt it in the marrow of my bones and the cells in my capillaries, I started putting them first on my plate.
This might not be comfy, it might not be easy, but I can promise you with all of my being that if you have the courage to conquer these questions in the face, you’ll be all the better for it. It’s not a remedy for every problem in the world, and I sure as hell can guarantee you’ll still have shitstorms come your way. That’s what life is all about, the challenges and the triumphs, the sweet and the bitter. The old saying is right – but there’s a twist that most people miss in the retelling: When it rains, it pours. And when it suns, it shines.
Has anything in your life ever been so far out of whack, the universe just wouldn’t let you off the hook? How did it manifest itself? More importantly, what was the first thing you did to make things start shifting around?
And if you’re currently in a rut, after answering these questions tell me – what IS your priority?