Dealing with Negative Nellie

We are living in a time of really big changes and major upheaval right now. Everyone can have a bad day now and then, but there’s a big difference between being grumpy from a bad sleep and having a shi$$y attitude.  A bad day means that things are completely out of your control, like living with MS. But a bad attitude? I hate to admit it, but that one is completely in my control. As if living with Multiple Sclerosis isn’t enough, every day right now we are bombarded with more bad news; stories that affect us and stories that are impacting our hopes and dreams for the future.  The future we face with our families, with the economy, with the planet, with travel, you name it, the impact of what is going on is felt EVERY SINGLE DAY by EVERY SINGLE PERSON I know and it is so easy to get caught up in the wave of negativity that we are swimming in these days. But, how do I deal with negativity in my life particularly when I am the one with the bad attitude? I am somewhat embarrassed to say that it has only been recently that I have recognized that unconsciously, I’ve always felt comfort in my cozy life of privilege and my internal dialogue telling me that “At least that isn’t happening to me, that hasn’t directly affected me or my family or that country really needs to get their shit together.” Well, those days are gone my friends and my eyes have been opened.  Stuff that is going on DOES affect me, it IS affecting my family and the country I live in DOESN’T seem to have their shit together. It sucks and I find myself at times going down the proverbial rabbit hole and I sometimes seem like I am having to work harder and be more committed to make my way back to the light.  I feel like there is just too much right now, its overwhelming and I don’t even have a young family that I am having to make those impossible decisions that need to be made right now. Should we be homeschooling? Is daycare safe?  Is it safe to be at work or should I push for continuing to work at home? How do we handle social media issues? How do I balance work and home? And that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Should I be wearing a mask?  Should I see my family and if so, how can we do it safely protecting both them and me?  So, parents, I see you and I want you to know that I am supporting you and cheering you on during this extremely difficult time.

But, how do you turn your attitude around when you can feel Negative Nellie not only creeping in but now, she wants to actually move in with you? I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find it is easier to deal with others who have piss poor attitudes, but I believe it is much harder to deal with it when you are the one with the bad attitude. Without realizing it and before I knew it, my mind has taken me on a journey filled with unrealistic expectations, worries, fear, feelings of uneasiness, a sense of loss and stories about what should or shouldn’t happen. The hardest part is that life is still happening, even though it may not be exactly how I would like to see it. I miss my kids and grandkids (we haven’t seen our son since February and he only lives 3 hours away but he’s in a hot spot and doesn’t want to unknowingly pass the virus on to me, his dad or his grandma to name a few of the people he loves with a compromised immune system), I miss my brothers, I miss having lunch with my friends who live only a couple of kilometers away and I miss planning our yearly snowbird trip, along with visits and vacations with some of our very best life-long friends, there are a lot of things that I miss about life as it was PP (pre pandemic) but what I have realized is that I can press pause on all of the negativity and step back from the momentum that these thoughts produce so I can choose happiness again, no longer allowing my mind to believe those thoughts and the chaos that comes from letting those thoughts drag me down. In the process of reflecting, I have been shocked to realize how profoundly this pattern of worry and negativity that is surrounding us has infiltrated my life. It’s tough for me because the extra stress of this pandemic has put additional stress on my MS and I feel like crap, yet I have oodles of time to delve deeper into my own health and wellness. This is what I’m doing to get through this ever changing time allowing me to move away from this place where fear and anxiety are leading the way and dictating my actions without being reckless and irresponsible with myself and the people I love because let’s face it, it doesn’t seem like things are going to go back to the way they were for quite some time if ever, so the quicker we figure out how to live in this different world, the happier we will be. I hope you can maybe find one or two suggestions that may help you get through this time as well.

I am starting the day by NOT watching the news. My husband and I watched a movie on Netflix the other morning when we woke up (Fishermens Friends – if you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest that you should watch it, it’s a feel good movie with no drama) and I was amazed at what flipping the switch on how I started my day had to do with my attitude moving in to the remainder of the day.

I am attempting to wear a bra every day most days, ok, I am shooting for 50% of the days.

I am reading from a positive or uplifting book for 15 minutes a day. Currently I am reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne because if there was ever a time that we need to set our intentions for what we want in our life, it is now.  And what I really want, is to be peaceful, patient and caring, having a clear mind and open heart so that is what I am putting out there.

I am usually pretty aware of what my mind is telling me, but this time it has just snuck up on me. But I am confident that I can and will make wise decisions that come naturally, not made out of fear and the long list of self-imposed limitations that have been in my head lately.

I acknowledge that what ifs are a complete waste of time and energy. I’ve realized that worrying is optional and it’s all in my hands. To worry or not to worry, that is the question. Worry and happiness have a difficult time being in the same place at the same time. So, I’m choosing happiness.

I have always been grateful for what and who is in my life, but freedom from negativity seems to lie at the feet of gratitude so that is where my focus needs to continue to be moving forward. And although things aren’t perfect, they could be so much worse.

I recognize that I don’t need to have everything figured out, which is a tough pill to swallow for someone who is somewhat of a control freak like me. Living by a schedule has always worked well for me…..until now, when there is really no schedule to my days so to speak. So, I know that I need to be adaptable and flexible.  Life seems to have kind of stood still, yet time is still moving by quickly. And in the words of my brother in law, “the older we get, the quicker life goes by”.  If you really think about that it’s a sobering thought and so very true.

I am leaning into my support system taking comfort in knowing they don’t judge me. They pick me up when I am down and in turn, I can only hope I do the same for them when they need it and we all need that, especially right now.

I will get moving – although my MS doesn’t like the cold weather, it doesn’t mean that I can’t still be moving. I have some yoga props and I’ve set up some yoga for MS workouts on YouTube so I really don’t have any excuses to not be stretching and moving – I mean I’m at home anyway right?!

I am trying to slow down and focus on one thing a day (like gardening, reading a book or cooking a nice dinner)

I am purposely switching off my brain and controlling my inputs. That means sometimes switching off my devices (although not as often as I should as it is the only way I am connecting with our kids and grandkids right now), but I have turned off notifications and the ringer, turning off the tv throughout the day and listening and singing along to my favourite songs on my favourite stations. Sitting and being quiet for even 10 minutes a day seems to lessen the potential for stress and anxiety for me

I realize that I am small and somewhat insignificant in the big scheme of things by taking more time to look up at the stars (usually from our hot tub). I’m just one tiny piece of a huge puzzle, which allows me to appreciate more rather than getting caught up in the small stresses of the day to day and helps me put my day in perspective.  If you can, buy the App Star Map 3D, it is an amazing reminder of what lies outside of our own little universe.

I am saying please and thank you more frequently. It’s easy to fall out of that habit when you are in your comfort zone, but it isn’t hard to do and can go a long way in making someone feel good and also, what you give out you get back, so why not make what you get something positive?

Last but not least – I am laughing more. There are times I laugh so hard that I have tears running down my leg and there is nothing better for the soul than that. My family brings that out in me.

At the end of the day, I just need to remember that there is so much about the world (and my disease) right now that I can’t control, it makes no sense to neglect all the things I CAN control and I no longer want to be guided by fear and anxiety. But enough about me, how about you?  What helps you change your attitude when the negativity starts to get the best of you?  Let me know, I would love to hear your thoughts.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. excentric says:

    I am kind of lucky in that I don’t have regular tv, just streaming, so I am not subjected to the constant bombardment of bad news that I think is happening. I try not to read anything political online, with rare exceptions, and I avoid anything about the election. I voted. It’s done. I cannot change anything. I try to end every day with an episode of QI, because laughing hysterically before bed is a good thing. I read a lot of fan fiction, which does not involve anything that is happening in the real world right now. I play with my cat. I realized a while back that I was unbelievably angry about everything, and it is very self-destructive. I made a definite effort to change that, and avoiding all the garbage was the first step. I keep thinking about the World Wars and other wars, where some people’s lives were altered permanently, and yet they went on and survived and sometimes even thrived. I have heat and shelter and food and a pet and I am very comfortable and privileged compared to a lot of people. So far, my income is steady, up until they mess with Social Security. I am making a serious effort to remember and focus on all the good in my life. It doesn’t change anything, but it helps me not fall into the black hole. Been there, never want to do that again. Good luck with your efforts. I think it’s going to be a hard winter for everyone, even if only because of less daylight. That always affects me badly. I read that going outside every day, even if for a short time, can make a big difference, so I am hoping to give that a go when my body allows. 🙂

    1. I totally get it! The only thing I can change is my reactions to what is going on around me. I’m a big believer in finishing the silver linings in my life too but every once in a while, I may need an attitude adjustment! Thanks so much for reading 💜

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