How to not beat yourself into happiness.


Sketch: Becca © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2011

Sketch: Becca © Sarah Marie Lacy, 2011

Yesterday was a somewhat stressful day for me. I had to write an essay for a scholarship for France and I was digging my heels in big time – turns out, I don’t like describing my goals and dreams to a complete stranger and then having those goals and dreams be judged as to whether they’re worth money or not.

So eventually I finished it, with much Twitter cheering on, but I was feeling really edgy and anxious after. My brain decided to latch on to money worries. I remembered a large bill that needs to be paid before I leave and instantly went into self-deprivation mode.

I had been about to buy myself this sweater I adore whose price had dropped from $100 to $25, but then I decided that that wasn’t practical or what a “good girl” would do.

Instead, I was an adult and packaged up some items for shipping, took them to the post office and then went and dealt with some things at the bank.

But as I left the house to walk to the mall, I decided to try an experiment.

What would happen if I changed the way I was thinking?

As I left the house, my brain was in cranky, crabby, worrying gremlin mode. “Well this client owes me this much and this other client owes me this much and nobody wants to pay me, wahhhhhh.”

So I took a deep breath, promised myself to finish up the work so I could get paid and decided to play with my reactions a bit.

I told myself that whatever I was feeling was the right way to feel. (I stole that from Mama Gena.) Cranky? Nervous? Angry? Stuck? Yep, that was the right way to feel.

Then I told myself that I was exactly where I needed to be. That I was in the perfect place. That this was where I was supposed to be. (Again, I took this from Mama Gena.)

Then an interesting thing happened – I started paying attention to my surroundings again. I’d walked the first 2 blocks in a whir of anger. Now, my senses were back in the present.

I noticed a fat, grumpy cat asleep on the church steps.

There were birds chirping.

I liked that girl’s sweater.

A lime green Smart car drove by. (Notable because I’ve seen all of 2 Smart cars since I moved to the Island.)

And you know, maybe it wasn’t as cold out as it had been. I didn’t have any gloves on and I was fine!

Maybe life wasn’t so bad after all.

I was starting to feel better already. Maybe this was where I was supposed to be.

Then I tackled my money anxieties. I told myself that even if I didn’t believe it, there were thousands of dollars just whizzing towards me. That I was going to get all of the money that I needed and that everything was going to work out.

Then I got to the mall and promptly forgot about all of these nice thoughts because I had to go be an Adult.

I did my thing, got through the bank, and then left. My normal route home was blocked by construction, so I had to take another way.

This is when things got a little more interesting.

As I walked along my new route home, I happened to bump into a client who owed me money. Turns out, they had the money and would be by my place within an hour to pay me.

One hour later, all of my money freakouts had been fixed.

My conclusions?

I don’t have too many actually. I’m not a LoA kind of person. I don’t like to make grand, sweeping conclusions from one tiny incident. I mean, I live in a small town. I could have bumped into my clients and gotten the money even if I’d stayed grumpy, ya know?

What I liked about this was that I could change my mood without having to beat myself into happiness.

I know that I’m the only person who can control my mood. But sometimes the people who remind you of this can be a little…grating.

“Your happiness is in your hands! Change your thoughts, change your emotions!”

My first reaction to that has always been, Bleh. I’m not going to try and convince myself that I’m happy when I feel like crap. I get that I can, but I just don’t like it. If I’m grumpy, the last thing I want to see is my own forced grin. (And I admit, this is a very ignorant opinion. Maybe not everyone who touts this thing thinks you should do that. It can just come across like that sometimes – ya know, affirmations and all.)

If you’d like to try this experiment yourself….

First, I gave myself space. I told myself that it was totally okay to be cranky, crabby, upset and irritable. I hadn’t liked my activities that day, and it was totally normal that I now wanted to strangle everyone in my path.

Then, I stopped beating myself up about not being richer or whatever, and said, “You know what? This is where I’m supposed to be. It’s totally cool that I’m here. I’m in the Right Place.”

That alleviated some of my “But I’m just not good enough!” feelings. It also meant that I’d relaxed enough to start paying attention to the world around me. Then my painter’s brain takes over and starts noticing the pretty colours and shapes. That helps.

It also meant that I was feeling a little more receptive when I told myself that all of the money stuff was going to work out. And I wasn’t just telling myself lovely little fairy tales either – I said, “Everything is going to work out and here is our solution for doing that.”

I gave myself concrete actionables. I promised myself that we would do x, y & z, and this would fix our problems.

Then I finished with some woo-woo, “there are thousands of dollars whizzing towards us” lines. I didn’t believe myself, but it didn’t matter. Part of my brain said, “But what if that were true? What could we do to help that along?”

And honestly, all of this took 5 minutes, tops. It didn’t take me from cranky to dancing-a-jig-happy, but it lightened my mood enough to bring me back into the present instead of stuck in Gremlin Mode. And that’s all I really need it to do. You’re not gonna be jigging all the time.

What are your thoughts?

Ever tried anything like this? Do you have tricks for changing your mood? Have you ever had weird synchronicities like this pop up in your life?

I want to hear your stories!