Saturday, January 12, 2013

Positive Thinking.

The other day I had one of those blessed moments when I got to share time, space, thoughts and ideas with a friend. I was on my way out of the gym when I noticed that said friend (who is also a group fitness instructor) was laying on her back massaging one side of her abdomen in the psoas area. Well, if there is one thing you can set your watch by its that I can't keep my mouth shut about the psoas. I'm fascinated and tormented by my own psoas and the role it plays in movement and general well-being. I don't believe we as humans can sneeze or fart without our psoas being involved.

But this post isn't really about the psoas. Back to my talk with my friend. I yammered on about some ideas that she could try and she shared ideas with me. One of the things discussed was the concept of body focused meditation, which of course almost always brings up the effects that stress has in our lives and how perspective can be a driving force in how we approach the challenges of daily life.

My friend has had to take time off to recover from a surgical procedure on her wrist. And it wasn't her first one. The most recent surgery was a redo and repair from another surgeon's work. Surgery, poor results, pain, frustration, search for answers, another surgery, pain, more recovery time. I've never had to go through something like that, so I can only imagine how frustrating a long drawn out process like that can be. But what I can relate to is the stress of having little kids (my youngest is 8 now), running a household, trying to maintain sanity with marriage, family and work.

Even when everything is running along fine there are life's stresses here and there. It is all too easy to let those little stresses become bigger than they are. Then when an actual big stress comes along there is less mental energy to stay focused on tackling those stress biggies. Everything feels like its going to implode on itself. You lose sight of what's really important in life and sometimes even who you are.

How can this vicious cycle be avoided? We worry so much about physical fitness, diet, financial health, are we jacking up our kids by doing this and not that. Sometimes it makes me want to lay on the ground and cry.

During my chat with my friend she revealed that she had been feeling really down as of late. Dealing with recovering from wrist surgery as well as other injuries meant having to sit around more than usual and not getting to do the things she enjoyed doing. Yes, at times that's just life. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't have collateral damage on our ability to have a healthy perspective on life.

She mentioned some advice she had gotten. Something so simple, yet so impactful. The advice was to simply take a moment, everyday to point out something positive. Perhaps an achievement, no matter how small. "I made it to the gym today, just as I had planned" or "Dinner was calm and pleasant and I enjoyed sitting with my kids" or even "I'm so glad to have a roof over my head". Its your positive brain space and soul of the heart that you are honoring. You get to choose and there are no wrong answers.

Say it out loud. Say it to a loved one. Say it to your dog. But give it weight and legitimacy by saying it out loud.

 This advice resonated so much with me. A healthy perspective can be everything. When I look back on my biggest personal struggles that I've been through; overcoming an eating disorder in my teens and early adulthood and my 20 year battle with bouts of depression, its my dark perspective during those times that makes my heart ache. Even now, when I feel like I'm a mess of "dark ink scribbles on the canvas of existence" I know in my heart of hearts that it is at those times that I must bare down and fight back at the encroaching vines of anxiety, depression and dark thinking with the sword of positive thought. Not "Pollyanna" thinking, but an honest assessment of what is good around me, about me and the people who need me to be mentally and emotionally healthy. While I am not a religious person in the fact that I don't attend a church or am affiliated with a specific doctrine, my faith in a higher power has carried me through dark moments. Sometimes just taking a moment to recognize the ways I'm not suffering. I'm no where near the Congo, my children and husband are healthy, there no bullets of from an enemy soldier whizzing past my head and threatening my family's life.

When my husband is feeling overwhelmed and disheartened by frustrations with his job and how the stresses of being the main breadwinner for a family of six, I will often remind him of what we are not facing. Not in a "Oh stop your whining" kind of way. His concerns, fears and frustrations are real. So many share the same worries. Those fears and concerns need to be recognized. But allowing the burden of worries to paralyze won't help in any way. "Our kids are healthy and free of serious illness", "We love each other. Our marriage is good", "The house is not on fire and nobody is coming at us to kill us". Once you can see what your not having to face, it can become easier to take a deep breath and focus on what it is you really are having to face. It is with that outlook that solutions are more easily found. Even if an answer doesn't present itself immediately, at least possibilities aren't hiding in the corners of the mind, fearful of entering a hostile environment. Fear is the killer of creativity.

It all sounds so simple and easy. "Just think good thoughts". But sometimes it can be so difficult. Something that should be automatic becomes elusive. I honestly believe that one has to actively work at keeping a positive perspective. Some have a more natural ability than others, but if you where to ask them they would probably say that it isn't always automatic.

So starting right this instant, take a deep breath, let the past stay where it belongs and give voice to something positive in your life. Own it. Everyday day.

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy the dance that is life!


  1. Erin, thank you so much for sharing your insight and experiences. I not only appreciate your friendship (believe it or not) for the past 20 years, but your perspective. Like my Father always told me during his battle with COPD ... "Take it one day at a time." ~Deana

    1. Thanks Deana and same here! I am so blessed to have treasures like you in my life. "Taking it one day at a time" is one of the best ways to embrace a healthy perspective in my opinion :)