As much as I have practiced maintaining a positive attitude, and as much as I consider myself an optimist, there are times when I struggle. One of these times was during our recent vacation.
When we originally planned our road trip, we made a list of things we wanted to do. We wanted to hike this mountain, run on that trail, kayak on those rivers. When, a week before our trip I developed some back pain, those plans had to get set aside. I became very frustrated with how the vacation was going. I felt disappointed. Soon, my emotions began to spiral downward.
I’ve noticed a pattern to my thoughts in times like these. It usually begins with a physically injury that prevents me from doing the things I love, especially running. My frustration with the injury then turns itself on my body; I am angry that my body bends but also breaks. I call my body all kinds of bad names. In the case of this vacation, I held myself responsible for “ruining” it. The negative self-talk can snowball until my self-worth feels at stake.
Identifying this pattern has been huge. I’m able to notice the trajectory of my thoughts. Sometimes, I notice them and let them continue anyway. Yet, I’m getting better at pulling myself out of the hole more quickly. Whereas I used to spend days or weeks down on myself, I can now bring things to a halt the very same day. This feels huge!
I’ve become able to analyze my own thought pattern and realize how seemingly ridiculous it can be. I’ve also concluded that negativity isn’t going to heal anything – physical or emotional – and in fact, it will likely impede healing. I truly believe that a positive outlook, on the other hand, can facilitate healing.
I had to dig myself out of the hole twice on this vacation. I acknowledged my feelings, set them aside, and, with Nick, found other ways to enjoy ourselves. We hiked some easy trails, swam in my aunt’s pool, and took many relaxing walks in order to explore our locations. I found joy in the new plan for our vacation: going with the flow, day to day.
Tell me, do you have any specific tools to help you keep a positive attitude?