I Can Let Go and Go with the Flow. My Thoughts are Under Control.

18 May

Life can be hectic, stressful, and even chaotic at times.  We all have something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to see.  Sometimes it can feel like our to-do list is a mile long and our feet are too tired to go the distance.  Add a sprinkle of coronavirus, a dash of social distancing, and a cup of your spouse’s job loss, then fold in homeschooling your kids with working from home, and you have the perfect recipe for a mental breakdown if not mixed well.

Life feels like a pandemic pineapple upside-down cake these days.  Some people think it’s sweet to have all their loved ones together at home, where they can lie low and stay safe.  Some people also find it's a blessing to work from the comforts of home.  They don’t have to spend as much time getting ready in the morning, and they don’t have to deal with a negative work environment.  They also don’t have to waste time, money, or energy on long commutes to work.  And, they don’t have to run around town to do as many errands or take their children to extracurricular activities.

However, those who had relied on their old routines to structure and manage their lives feel like their whole world flipped upside down.  Those with young children especially feel like this quarantine lifestyle made their lives a hundred times more challenging.  For instance, video conferencing with clients or colleagues can be extremely difficult when children and pets are running in the background.  

Parents have difficulty doing their jobs while also homeschooling their children. It's hard enough to do one job, but now many parents have to do two jobs. Between running a household, working a 9-5 job, and teaching children, parents are just exhausted by the end of the day. It’s just too much for them to do with too many distractions.  Their plates are full and their patience is thin.

Many parents are stressed, tense, and irritated.  After two months of living in quarantine, they think it no longer feels sweet to have all their loved ones under one roof.   Like a pineapple, all their sweetness has been drained right out of them.  Instead, without a break or anywhere to go, they feel like ringmasters at a circus.  Some parents even admit that the bathroom is the only place where they can find peace, quiet, and solitude. Not knowing how long this will last and whether their old routines will ever resume are the cherries on top.

Feeling out of control is part of the problem.  If you like to feel in control, then you probably also like to control your environment.  It’s only natural for you to feel better with structure. Structure creates boundaries.  It also helps you manage your expectations and predict outcomes.  Therefore, you can work, plan, and manage your life better when you have routines in place.  But, if your routine has been suddenly altered or taken away from you, you can feel lost, confused, and frustrated. Over time, this can cause stress, fear, anxiety, and depression.

The more we try to control a situation or resist change, the more we will struggle. Situations like living in quarantine can test us.  Any situation that tests us is an opportunity to practice aloha.  That is, every difficult situation is an opportunity to be more loving, kind, and compassionate with ourselves and others.

Practicing aloha can help you accept, embrace, and adapt to a new set of circumstances.  Life is easier when you are more loving, kind, and gentle with yourself.  It creates a positive mindset, which can help you make the most of any situation.

If you have trouble adapting to change, change your attitude. You can't control your environment.  You can't control every outcome in life. But, you can control your attitude. Shaped by your thoughts, your attitude can influence your outcomes in life.  Therefore, if you want to positively impact your situation, develop a better attitude.  To create a better attitude, you have to improve your thoughts.

Positive self-talk is an effective tool for practicing aloha, shifting your mindset, changing your perspective, and releasing control.  Replace your need for control with self-love and self-compassion.  We are always talking to ourselves with our thoughts. We also choose our thoughts, whether we realize it or not.  If you’re unhappy, pay closer attention to what you say to yourself.  Your thoughts directly impact how you feel, what you say out loud, and what you do.  How you think dictates how you handle every situation. Ultimately, your actions influence your outcomes.  You can be more self-compassionate by speaking more loving and kind to yourself.

A positive affirmation is a form of positive self-talk that can change how you think and feel.  A positive affirmation is a statement you say to yourself out loud to help develop positivity and build self-esteem, courage, and confidence.  If you can learn negative thinking, then it is also possible to learn positive thinking.  If you aren't handling this quarantine well, it would be in your best interest to learn how to choose better thoughts.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or under pressure, keep telling yourself you are doing the best you can with what you have.  By repeating a positive affirmation like this, you can help reframe your thoughts and strengthen your mindset.  

Over time, repeating positive affirmations can open your mind to new ideas.  You can become more spontaneous and creative in your approach to handling your problems. So, instead of feeling overwhelmed by your problems, you will think more clearly and create solutions to them. Therefore, positive self-talk can empower your survival and success.

Practice positive self-talk daily. Repeat positive affirmations as often as possible. You can create your own, use the ones offered in this website, or search online for those that relate to how you feel.  

To strengthen your positive self-talk practice, take deep breaths, and look at yourself in the mirror.  Also, consider smiling while you say your positive affirmation.  According to the article, "What's the Science Behind a Smile?" in BritishCouncil.org, scientists say smiling creates a happiness feedback loop in our brains. When we smile, our facial muscles fire a signal to the brain, which then increases our levels of endorphin, also known as our happy hormones.

In other words, when our brain feels happy, we smile.  When we smile, our brain feels happier.  Thanks to this feedback loop, scientists say we can alter our brain's emotional processing pathway to feel happier with a simple smile. Smiling also helps reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and lower our heart rate.

Life is easier when everything goes according to plan, but plans can change. This pandemic taught us that when plans change, we should change with them. The more we resist change, the more we may struggle.  

If you can let go and go with the flow, your life will be more enjoyable despite tough times.  It’s easier to let go of control when you practice aloha. Be more loving, kind, and compassionate through this difficult time, my Pineapple.  It will get you through this, over this, and past this. And, this, too, shall pass.

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