Monthly Archives:

January 2022


Baby Steps for When Things Are Hard

January 18, 2022

Listen. I know. It’s not easy to reverse those negative thoughts when they come up, even under the best of circumstances. But it takes a certain level of mental fortitude to change your thought pattern when things get hard in life. Can I just encourage you that you have it in you to do this? No matter what is going on in your life, you have the power to change things simply by changing your thoughts. You can change the way you think. Seriously.

Self care = coffee and Tootsie.

In this world you will have trouble…

We are literally promised to have trouble in life. No matter how hard you work or how “lucky” you are, eventually trouble will find you. But Jesus tells us to take heart because he has overcome the world. To “take heart” means to gain courage or confidence or to begin to feel encouraged or hopeful. Don’t miss this – it’s Jesus telling us how we should feel regardless of what is going on in the world or in our lives. And the very fact that he is telling us how to feel shows us that we must have the power to change our feelings. The Bible empowers us to take control of our thoughts and feelings, and directs us how to do that! If you’re looking for a roadmap to a positive mindset, just open your Bible.

I have been through some really awful things, and I’ve lived through really challenging times where I struggled to control my thoughts. As a young woman, I don’t think I would have believed you if you had told me that I could change my feelings. I remember being depressed about a particular event and feeling like there was literally no way I would ever be able to climb out of that pit. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I embarked on this journey to take control of my thoughts that I really started to do the work and make the changes.

In case you think I have it all figured out…

In no world do I want you to think that I have this all figured out or that I never struggle with negative thoughts. Recently I was going through a very challenging time where I was struggling with a really complicated and heartbreaking situation. It was also the holiday season. And my entire family had been diagnosed with covid. I was not operating at my peak self levels. I was snapping at my family, letting my routines and rhythms fall by the wayside, and was just generally radiating a vibe of grump and funk. My thoughts largely consisted of, “This isn’t fair. Everything is hard. I can’t do this.” etc. I actually hung out at this level for a few days until I was finally able to pull myself out of it. Because I have been working so hard to challenge my negative thoughts and change them to positive ones, I could see what was happening. But because of the seriousness of the situation I was dealing with, I found it really difficult to actually do what I needed to do to feel better.

So what did I do instead?

I couldn’t instantly pull myself out of this funk. I knew it had to be done, but it was a STRUGGLE. I also knew that an all-or-nothing mentality had not served me in the past, so rather than feeling guilty for not being able to feel joy in the midst of my suffering, I focused on what I could change. What small actions could I take that would help me to feel at least moderately better? First I assessed my situation and figured out what things on my plate had to go right away. Anything that felt too heavy or like it was pushing me over the edge had to go immediately. Next, I figured out what small action I could add into my day that would feel like self care. One day it was talking with a girlfriend. Another day I got to snuggle in my jammies in front of the Christmas tree with my cat on my lap and a cup of coffee. Another day was a breakfast date with my husband. Finally, I named what I was feeling and why I was feeling that way. By identifying my emotions and what specifically was bothering me, it shifted the power dynamic back so that I felt I had control to adjust what I was feeling. Processing our emotions out loud with a trusted friend/spouse, in prayer time, or even in a journal, is ultimately what enables us to move on from those heavy feelings.

Neuroplasticity saves the day!

The work of changing our thoughts is not easy. Sometimes it seems downright impossible. But even if you don’t believe in God, science itself proves that our brains are capable of changing. It’s called neuroplasticity and it’s the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Basically, it means the brain can change and adapt. For example, perhaps you constantly feel like you’ll never be good enough. By regularly having these thoughts, you’ve trained your brain to think that way! So you’ve created your own rut that you’re stuck in by allowing these thoughts to continue. But don’t worry – neuroplasticity will save the day! By forcing yourself to challenge that thought and flip it into something positive, you can actually climb your way out of the trench you’ve created and form a new pathway for your mind. I plan to delve deeper into this in a future post, but for now, just remember that you’re not stuck feeling any particular way. There’s always hope. And when things are really hard, just remember to subtract and add: Subtract (remove) anything taking up your time that feels too heavy at the moment and add something that will feel soothing to your soul. With these two small actions, you’ll have taken two steps in the direction that you want to go, despite the difficult circumstances you might be facing.


When You Forget to Shift Your Mindset

January 4, 2022
Maybe every post is going to have a picture of Tootsie. Who can say? Only time will tell.

Yesterday was a fairly normal day. Nothing bad happened, and nothing particularly exciting happened either. And in my normal day, just like everyone, I experienced a series of ups and downs with my emotions. There were moments of laughter, and moments of frustrations. I don’t expect that any day will be without frustration, but my goal is to have more laughter moments than frustration moments. Since I can’t control my external circumstances, the best way to ensure more good moments than bad moments is to have a positive mindset.

If you are new to the practice of mindfulness or mindset shifting or whatever you want to call it, you may notice that it’s difficult to even remember that you CAN shift your thinking when you’re in the middle of dealing with a negative thought. A dozen negative thoughts might come and go long before you remember you were supposed to be changing your thinking. So how can we make this become natural so that we practice it more throughout our days?

My bedtime practice

I recently started this practice at bedtime where I take an inventory of my day and all its frustrating moments. I begin by trying to remember any times that I felt stress or frustration, and then I make myself reframe the thought to turn it into a positive one. This way, I know that if the exact same situation happens tomorrow, or even a similar situation, I now I have a tool to use to change my thinking and therefore change my feeling about something. Phrasing them as affirmations or mantras helps me apply and remember them.

How about some examples?

Let me show you a few examples from yesterday, which like I said was a fairly average day.

Frustration moment: I had just picked up the flatiron to start styling my hair when my daughter came in wanting to be picked up and held. At the time I thought, “ugh I guess I’ll just look like crap today.”

How to reframe: “I am so excited to spend time with my children! I welcome interruptions from them because I genuinely enjoy spending time with them.”

Frustration moment: As I was trying to read the older boys a bedtime story, they were acting silly, clearly not listening and it felt pointless. I didn’t get mad but I simply put the book down and went back to what I was originally doing before I had stopped to read the book. I felt disappointed that I didn’t get to read the story.

How to reframe: “They are behaving like children and that’s okay. We can try to read the book again tomorrow.”

Frustration moment: My daughter took only a short nap and so I didn’t get any of the things done that I was trying to accomplish.

How to reframe: “I release control over the timing and order of my day.”

It almost sounds silly to type some of this out because in a way it’s obvious. But the practice of listing out my frustrations and then purposefully reframing them after the fact has made such a huge difference in how my days go.

Practice makes permanent

My piano teacher used to say “practice makes permanent.” In other words, if you repeatedly do something over and over, even if it’s a mistake, then that’s the way you will always do it. It will become harder and harder to course-correct when that mistake is so ingrained in the way you’ve done things. So when I was misreading a note in Clair de Lune and playing it incorrectly over and over as I practiced, it became more difficult for me to fix it when I finally realized the mistake. Muscle memory is real y’all. But the same is true for our mindset. If we have negative thoughts over and over, then those are going to become our default. Conversely, if we practice positive thinking, then THAT will become our default.

Okay but like, I forgot to try to think positively about that situation…

This is where the bedtime inventory comes in handy. Because you are consciously making the effort to reframe thoughts after the fact, it’s like intentionally practicing that piano piece correctly. You can take your time, the stakes are low because the day is done and the situation is over (at least in the immediate sense), and you are now in full control of your thoughts. I’m also a big believer in doing things right before bed if you want to remember them. In law school, one of my biggest hacks to study for exams was by reading my notes on a particular subject in bed right before I fell asleep and then sleeping with those notes next to me so that I could pick them up and they would be the first thing I looked at in the morning. I’m sure there is some science to this but when you bookend your sleep with whatever it is that you’re trying to learn, you learn it quicker and easier. Try it! You can do this in your head or even in your journal. Just list out your frustrations from that day, and then write out affirmations or mantras to combat those frustrations. When you wake up, review your new affirmations and you will be amazed at how easily they come to mind without as much conscious effort the next time a similar struggle arises.

Let me know if you try it! And remember, I am always in this with you.