Waking up with a Positive Attitude Every Day

Waking up with a positive attitude really can make or break your day. But not all is lost if you wake up feeling nervous, anxious, or sad for no reason. You just need to know how to turn it around. Similar to how you dealt with a saboteur in an earlier post, practice positive thinking for three to five minutes before you get out of bed.  Keep your eyes closed and remain calm– breathing in and out. You need to tell yourself, “Today is going to be a good day. I am going to have fun with my friends. School is going to be okay,” and so forth.  You have to consistently manage the negative attitude, get out of bed with a clear head, and start the day in a positive space (or at least moving in that direction).  I know this may sound strange, but don’t think too much. Stop constantly second-guessing, questioning, and wondering.  I know blocking out the negative can be exhausting, but what’s the alternative? Being depressed, sad, or angry?  Think of all the energy you waste dwelling on those feelings.

Set yourself up for success before you go to bed.  Have your alarm set to play your favorite song so you wake up in a comfortable space. Or, have a photo of you and your best friends by the bed, something that makes you feel warm or happy. (I’d rather wake up looking at that instead of a bunch of schoolbooks sprawled across the floor.)  Look to that photo first thing in the morning when you wake up. Or maybe it’s a trophy in your room that makes you feel confident or a special ribbon on your wall. Anything that reminds you that you are talented, confident, appreciated and loved will work.

Why Sarah Cuts. (The ugly side of low self-esteem)

My interview with a 16 year old cutter.

She is a 16 year old girl with the lowest self-reported self-esteem of any girl I interviewed for my book.  She had tears in her eyes the entire interview and she nearly broke my heart. I found myself struggling between interviewing her and counseling her. She didn’t see herself as smart or pretty, good at sports or anything else really. She suffers from a very bad case of negative self-talk that’s alive and well living inside her. She told me that whatever she does, she hears an inner voice telling her she isn’t good enough and to quit, which she does every time. Because of this, she can’t stick to anything long enough to get good at it, experience success and then build confidence. This is a huge factor contributing to her very low self-esteem.  It has a paralyzing effect on her and has perpetuated an unnatural fear in her for anything new. She says her friends are starting to get tired of her negative attitude and they think that she is constantly fishing for compliments. She is pushing her friends away, which makes her inner voice (or saboteur) very happy. We talked about how she was bullied in middle school for being over weight, having braces and wearing glasses… all at the same time. She has never fully recovered from the way she was treated back then, even though she has blossomed into a beauty swan. She acquired an eating disorder freshman year of high school and based on our conversation, it seems that she still struggles with anorexia. She still sees that girl from middle school when she looks in the mirror and still hears the kids calling her names. More upsetting is the cutting. She told me that she “used to cut” herself, as a way to deal with stress in her life and probably because of the self hate. In her words, it’s a way to release stress and anger. Not to mention, the inner saboteur tells her to do it. She doesn’t have a close relationship with her mother and feels it’s partially her mom’s fault for her being bullied in middle school.  She feels her mom is the direct reason why she was overweight. In addition, they fight about school work. In her words, homework seems more important to Sarah than it does to her mother. The more mom pushes her to join the family, the more this teen pulls away.  Sarah is looking for independence, but is being challenged with family pressure to be  more like them. These pressures lead to more cutting. Getting good grades seems to be the only way she feels good about herself right now, although it’s generally fleeting. Her mom doesn’t understand the sadness and negative thoughts that circle her mind, so Sarah has stopped trying to tell her about them. This is a difficult relationship brewing between mother and daughter that is far from over.

Self Sabotage: The Biggest Enemy of Healthy Self-esteem

Self sabotage is your mind’s way of working against you for no logical reason.  Basically, it stems from unconscious beliefs that you are unworthy of happiness and/or success.  Low self-esteem is directly linked to self-sabotage because it reinforces those negative thoughts and controls what you believe you can achieve and puts a limit on how much.  Self sabotage can be reversed. It just takes figuring out the triggers, implementing the proper tools and consistently changing those negative thought patters.

Let’s call the inner person doing this damage (or sabotage) the saboteur.  Give the saboteur a name and create a visual so you know who you are combating when those negative thoughts come into your head.  Only you have the power to make the saboteur big or small, strong or weak, because you are the one allowing him or her to feed you with negative thoughts.

So how do you deal with self-sabotage?  First, you need to identify how you’re sabotaging yourself. Usually, the saboteur presents him or herself in the form of negative self-talk.  Examples: You can’t do it, you’re not smart enough, you aren’t thin enough, you will never get what you want, etc. The way we talk to ourselves started a long time ago when we were children and so it’s hard to change, but not impossible.  It just takes time and consistency. Negative self-talk will stay with you as long as you give it power. You simply need the right tools to fight it.

1) Become more in tune with your inner voice. I’m a huge believer in thought stopping.  As you hear yourself spiraling into the negative, literally say NO out load, stop the thought and immediately say 3 positive affirmations about yourself. For some reason, saying it out load actually makes you feel better and helps you realize how often you think negative thoughts.  If we are lucky, the number of negative thoughts become fewer day after day.  Envision the saboteur getting smaller and weaker. Don’t let the saboteur ever win.

2) I also like the idea of turning negative self-talk first into neutral self-talk. This gets you one step closer to positive self-talk and can be easier to do if the negative self-talk is strong when you first start these exercises. The saboteur loves mental complaining, she feeds off it. Don’t give her the satisfaction.  No more “I can’t” but how about “I will try.” If a friend cancels on you, neutral self-talk says “What should I now do with that free time?” If  you don’t get everything accomplished on your to-do-list, neutral self-talk doesn’t beat you up but says, “Maybe I can finish this list tomorrow.”  No complaining allowed, only neutral thoughts.  It takes time to recalibrate your thinking, but it can happen.

3) Another suggestion is to keep a journal and write down all the ways in which you consistently find yourself self-sabotaging. Put it right there out in the open for you to see; it takes the power away for the saboteur. Next, you need to add to each of those self sabotaging actions what positive or neutral actions/thoughts would look like. So the next time you find yourself self sabotaging in that exact manner, you can carry out the healthy plan of action that you already identified in the journal. The key is follow through.

4) ALWAYS surround yourself with people who truly love and support you. Stay away from negative people, they will only bring you down further.  Your saboteur loves negative people because having them around only reinforces their presence. If you find yourself with negative people, envision a shield protecting you and their thoughts simply bouncing off.  Visualization is an effective and powerful tool.