The second part of step 3 on my journey to controlling my thinking and in turn having the capability of choosing happiness on a daily basis and living a simply happy life despite and often in spite of my circumstances is all about minding my business! In my last post I stepped out from under my rock (of which I have intentionally built and stay happily under most days) and shared my feelings of frustration at the overturning of Roe v Wade by the supreme court whom I feel are very shortsighted in their choice in doing so and I briefly explained my position. I ended with the simple statement that I don’t feel it is another person’s place to judge and rally against the doings of someone else that do not in any way affect themselves! But I’m past that, mostly, because well its not in my control in the least and things that are not within my ability to change or at least have a hand in changing I don’t allow to affect my mood or happiness.
So part one of step 3 is all about taking control of our thinking through reframing our negative thoughts. Now it took me a good 6 months to master this as a habit and do so subconsciously rather than having to put real effort and attention towards identifying, stopping, and reframing the negative thoughts I had. I had the times where I backslid and forgot to be on top of my thinking at all and had to start back at square one at least two times that stand out for me and it was just not natural or at least didn’t come naturally or easily for me to get in the habit of doing. But – I did it! I got it down as a habit and now I DO naturally reframe negative thoughts. It is freeing and I am happier, healthier and lighter for it. It also has helped my overcome insomnia and acute anxiety, including but not limited to panic attacks, anxiety attacks, agoraphobia, and social anxiety. I am medication free and alcohol free as well which is also freeing and healthier. I’m not saying that this will do all of that for anyone else or that it is what anyone else needs it is just what I needed and what’s best for me and my life to be! Don’t give up when it gets tough or frustrating, it can become second nature just keep working at it and have faith.
Within our negative thinking there is a large cluster of one type of negative thinking that most people are guilty of doing that is one of the hardest I found to overcome (and my dad, until recently, swore was natural and everyone does it and he didn’t believe that I don’t anymore and have been teaching my children not to do so) because at least in my family it is a normal part of conversation and thus my way of thinking – judging others, criticizing others, comparing ourselves to others. Often times when thinking of our negative thinking we don’t include our negative thoughts of others; it may seem obvious to many that these do count as negative thoughts but sometimes our negative thoughts of others are made to make ourselves feel superior or better than. C’mon at least admit it to yourself, I’m admitting my shortcomings to the world wide web so you can come clean to you – I know you can! It took me a lot of years to accept that I was judging others and then a few more to get honest with myself and identify what I was self-conscious about or what I feared that led me to judge another person for being human like all of us.
Same as with all of our negative thoughts judgmental thinking of the negative variety (to them or to ourselves through judgment, criticism or comparison) must be identified as such and stopped when they creep into our brain. We will for sure reframe those thoughts but before doing that when it comes to judgments of others, or ourselves even, we have to add a bit of introspection beyond just reframing them to truly overcome this category of negative thinking. So when I STOP a judgment like, “Those pants look a couple sizes too small for her, maybe she should have looked in the mirror before leaving the house – sausage thighs anyone?” (And that is a waaay over the top type of judgment I haven’t thought since my girlfriend and I used to have this -I am just now realizing- kind of mean girls diss that I don’t think we were as quiet about as I’d like to believe looking back in middle school saying, “Did she/he get dressed in his grandma’s closet with the lights out this morning?” or some such variation. Eww that was not cute of our little insecure preteen and early teenage selves!) So with that awful criticism of said girl in too tight (in my opinion) pants I would have to first STOP THAT THOUGHT and analyze what I was feeling insecure about or what fear I had that made me feel the need to feel bad energy toward another human being just going about her business? In this scenario, and for a lot of mine when I began doing this introspective work on my judgmental thoughts, I knew all too well what my insecurity and fears were about my own weight growing up until my early twenties and believed about my weight (although I was so very wrong but what I saw when I looked in the mirror was not a reflection of my actual size just apparently my warped perceived size) through my twenties until my very late 20s/early 30s and along with the insecurity I had had then even once I could see my amazing figure in real time the fear of going back-even if only in my own head-to being larger than I felt comfortable was real. So to reframe this thought after identifying my actual self-conscious reason for having it would be to say, “What she is wearing is not my business and I probably still wear tighter pants than that on occasion and look hot in them as well!” And for me if I am still near the person I’ve made the judgment about when I’m through with my self analysis if I genuinely find something about her style cute or noteworthy I will compliment her on that and if nothing about her style is of my preference then I will simply say something kind to the affect of having a good day and enjoying life. And no even if I were right about the pants it is never my place to give another person unsolicited advice and would be completely rude to assume I was right or she wasn’t comfortable in her own choice of clothing.
Other judgments I found myself having was of other mothers’ ways of parenting or lack there of again an insecurity about my own motherly abilities and/or having been in the same scenario and been super embarrassed/uncomfortable and rather than commiserating (even in my own head) I’d pass judgment which is exactly what I’d hoped wasn’t being done to me. Seeing happy or unhappy couples brings up feelings of my own relationship inadequacies in the form of judging and/or comparing. I found once I started really taking control of my thinking including my judgmental thoughts I really started to analyze my own self worth and we’ll be doing just that in the next “step” toward choosing our own happiness through controlling our thinking. Most of what I found I knew to some extent or another that it was there but admitting it to myself without excuses and taking full responsibility for my choices and mistakes in life opened some new doors to self knowledge and I’ve also learned to respect myself and love myself on a whole different level than before.
So what about those self judgments I’ve mentioned? I think they’re more obvious once we start looking at ourselves more honestly and without bullshitting about why we are where we are and what we are and fully learn to accept and love ourselves as the works in progress we all are. Just like judgments of others though take that extra step from just reframing to dig a bit deeper into the why we’re feeling that way about ourselves as we would another person we’re judging. I often found that my self judgments were in my head as my mother’s judgments and in her voice often as well and I often gave her credit for judgments that while she may have had them of me they were actually my own now.
And while it seems that we’re focusing a lot on the negative aspects of our thinking and selves the truth is that we are progressing toward eliminating the majority of that type of thinking and with the reframing and turning them to positive and/or worthwhile thoughts/ideas the idea is that we are actually focusing more on the positive product we come out with and letting go of that negative thinking/thought. Like everything in life practice makes progress and progress and bettering ourselves just a little bit every day is what I think life is all about. We’re never too old or young or too far gone or too inexperienced to grow and become better people.
A couple HUGELY important REALITIES I’ll leave you with that have helped me tenfold in my journey:
Most people are, like you and me, focusing mostly on themselves and that little embarrassing moment you think everyone is talking about or what you wish you would have said in that conversation and are worried someone is judging you by – they’re most likely having the same type of worries about themselves and are far more likely to be thinking about themselves than you so LET IT GO!!! No need for coulda woulda shoulda thinking! Whats done is done and thank goodness for that; learn from it and move on and if possible try to do better the next time but YOU are the only one microanalyzing YOU the way WE ALL DO!!
What the next person thinks about me IS NOT MY BUSINESS nor do I care anymore because 1. it’s not my business 2. I love myself and anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth my brain space 3. I cannot control someone else’s thoughts or opinions of me or anything else and I don’t want to that’s exhausting sounding at just the idea of it! 4. I love everyone anyway and people have a hard time finding fellows to hate on that with them and if they do well I don’t know about it and I love em anyway!
Enjoy your day and spread love to someone you find hard to love today! No matter what life is both too long and too short to hold resentments or grudges so LET THAT SHIT GO and love em anyway broken and trying just like the rest of us!