Bye, Negativity

Happy Wednesday, loves!

How many negative thoughts have you had this morning? Hazard a guess. I’ve probably had dozens already, and it’s first thing in the morning. Honestly, it’s so hard not to find negative thoughts creeping in these days. Any day, really, but these days it’s almost impossible not to feel negative more often than you’re accustomed to.

Let’s face it; the world is an ugly place. No matter your personal beliefs, your political affiliation, your stance on current events in the world, it’s an ugly place right now. Most people are in a mood…and it’s not a good one. You already know I’m not that much of a people person, but I’m so much less of a people person these days. It seems everywhere I go, more and more of the people I encounter are in a bad mood.

The news is filled with negativity. Newsfeeds are filled with negativity. I’ve taken to using social media to post my photos to share with my grandmother and other family members, and then I’m out. I haven’t scrolled my own Facebook feed since the beginning of July. I can’t. It’s so negative. People can’t have their political beliefs without shoving them down the throats of everyone else. People who don’t speak up about current events are suddenly the problem. People who don’t speak up soon enough about current events are the problem. People who speak up about current events but not in a timely fashion are the problem. People who speak up about current events but disagree with your opinions about current events are the problem.

April Stock Photo

You guys…we have enough problems. What’s with all the negativity? Everything is so negative anymore, and you know that this kind of negative consumption is feeding our brains and our hearts nothing but garbage. I’m done with it. I am so careful in so many areas of my life to choose positive people, positive influences, things and people that bright me joy and happiness, and I’m not about to let the fake, fear-mongering news and social media and everyone else’s opinions ruin all that hard work I put into leading a happy life.

To quote that one woman that one time (can someone remind me of the exact event, please?), “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So, how do we stop these negative thoughts from sinking in and becoming our prevalent thoughts? It’s not easy. We are hardwired to have negative thoughts simply because we are more sensitive to negativity. But, it’s possible to (I’m sure I’m quoting my mother, here) ‘turn that frown upside down,’ and have positive thoughts.

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Get Rid of the Phone

Social media, the news, our emails, all of it. It’s killing us a moment at a time. How many times a day do you dread checking your email because you know that you’re going to get an email or a text from a client, a coworker, a friend, a family member, a company, someone who needs a favor, wants to add something else to your plate? How many times do you check social media and find yourself annoyed by the posts you’re reading?

Get off the phone. Stop checking. Turn off your notifications. Set aside a few minutes a day to check the important stuff, and stay off social media and the news sites you’re so accustomed to inhaling and absorbing each and every day. This is especially important in the morning when you wake up. Don’t start your day with that nonsense.

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Write Down Your Feelings of Gratitude

You already know that this is helpful, but let’s start actually doing it, okay? Pick up a notebook today while you’re out. Write down three to five things first thing in the morning that you are grateful for and that are good in your life. They can be big, small, whatever. Just write them down, then read the list. Then add a few more things to that list at the end of the day that are specific to that day. Keep this up. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are able to turn your negative thoughts into less frequent visitors. For example, this morning I am grateful for these things:

  • Watching the sunrise over our backyard from my spot on the lanai while it’s still quiet at home
  • Being able to be home with my kids to make memories and be present in their lives
  • Listening to my sweet twins read books to me out loud
  • Family dinners and game nights
  • A whole cup of coffee consumed in absolute silence while the sun rises
  • Front porch rocking
  • Being married to a man who kisses me every single time he walks by me

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Shut Down Your Thoughts

When negative thoughts come to mind, make it a habit to literally tell them to stop. Literally, say it aloud. Say, “Stop, right now. Stop this train of thought, right now,” and keep that going. Every single time a negative thought comes to mind, tell yourself to stop. Out loud. Where you can hear it. It’ll help.

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Write Down Your Negative Thoughts

Okay, Tiffany, tell us again how we are writing down things we are happy for and then telling ourselves to physically stop thinking negative thoughts, yet you have us writing down our negative feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper?

I realize it seems counterproductive, but it’s not. Now that you are working on getting rid of negative thoughts, take a moment to write down what bring you these thoughts. Your negative beliefs. Your negative feelings, etc. For example, if I were writing down my own negative beliefs right now, my list would look like this:

  • People are so negative
  • No one bothers to use their common sense anymore
  • The world is so divided
  • Kindness suddenly seems gone from the world
  • All I see are bad things all day, every day

But, that’s not true, now is it? People aren’t all negative. Some are, but not everyone in the world is negative. Some people lack a lot of common sense, but most don’t. The world is not as divided as the mainstream media wants us to believe. Kindness is everywhere; it’s just not as visible because it’s not nearly as newsworthy. All I see are bad things everyday because I’m seeing news stories and opinions online, and I’m not focused on the good things that surround me all the time.

You see? I just debunked – to borrow a term from mainstream media – all the negative thoughts in my mind. They look a little silly when they’re on paper, don’t they?

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Just Relax

What’s going to happen is going to happen, and worrying about it and thinking about it and feeding it your constant negative attention is not going to make a difference. Let life unfold before you, and don’t perpetuate fear and uncertainty in your own mind. It’s not helpful.

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Detox Your Digital Life

I’m not an advocate for unfollowing people or pages that don’t fit your narrative or simply because you don’t agree with their outlook, but sometimes you have to do it. Let me be very clear; don’t go unfollowing people because they have different beliefs than you. Do unfollow them if they bring negativity to your life or your feed. For example, unfollow someone who name calls or belittles or says hurtful things. Or, even more simply, detox your pages so you’re only seeing things that bring you joy and happiness, even if that means unfriending your mom and only following pages filled with kittens and puppies and donuts.

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Take Care of You

I feel like a broken record because I say this all the time, but that should really make it obvious how important this is. Take care of you. Don’t put yourself last. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to work out or eat healthy – nothing is further from the truth. I see you – and I hear you – saying you’re so busy and overwhelmed and you don’t have time to go to the gym or work out or eat a healthy diet, but I also see you sharing dozens of memes and articles and commenting on every political post on the internet each and every day and talking about binging your favorite shows every evening when the kids are in bed. You have time; you don’t have the right priorities.

Get up. Take a walk. Go a quick breathing exercise. Work out at home. Download a workout app. Go for a quick run. Do some squats or crunches during commercial breaks. You have time, but you have to make it a priority. Meal prep. Or, if you’re like me and you cannot fathom the idea of eating leftovers (I cannot eat anything that’s been put in the fridge and then taken back out to reheat), order a meal service so the hard work is done. We love Hello Fresh. We love their calorie smart and vegetarian meals, ironically (we are not vegetarian). They’re quick, flavorful, and so easy.

Drink more water while you’re at it. If you’re not hydrated, you’re not living your best life. It’s really that easy. Take care of yourself. Eat right, make yourself a priority. It’s easier to feel good when you actually feel good, you know?

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Focus on the Good in Your Life

The best things in life really are those small moments. Of course, you’ll always remember the big ones and the amazing ones, but those little ones are what make up your entire complex system of happiness and fulfillment. You find your joy in those little moments. Focus on those. Look around you. Focus on what little things you do each and every day that bring you so much joy.

For me, it’s when the kids laugh and giggle and climb all over us in the pool. It’s doing cannonballs and letting down my hair – literally – to jump in the pool in the pouring rain not caring how I look. It’s simple Saturdays talking about life and laughing about every-damn-thing with the people we love most. It’s Saturday nights laughing nonstop with some of the most hilarious people around. It’s the excitement on the kids’ faces when someone rolls a Yahtzee during game night. It’s the moment my husband makes eye contact with me during the eyeroll-inducing 3908 questions Carter asks during every. Single. Movie. Night. Ever. It’s his excitement when we watch a movie about tornadoes. It’s mornings when my husband’s alarm goes off and he snoozes it for 9 minutes so he can cuddle with me a little longer. It’s Wednesday night traditions. It’s sitting on the lanai with my coffee in the morning. It’s Sunday dinners. It’s the way Addison is so sweet with her sisters and her brother. It’s Ava’s quick wit and smart mouth. It’s Charlotte’s sugar-sweet kindness and love for everyone. It’s Carter’s quick laugh and sweet “I love you, mommy,” and the feeling I get when my husband reaches for my hand when we are walking anywhere.

It is so many small moments that, when you put them together, create such a beautiful life. Even when the world is a shitshow of WTF all around us, it’s those moments you can turn to and know that you are living your best life even if you momentarily forgot all about it.

What is Confidence?

Confidence is not “They will like me,” Confidence is “I’ll be fine if they don’t,” – Pinterest

I’m sure someone more important or interesting said that, but it’s all over Pinterest without a direct attribute to the person who said it, so…(if you know to whom this belongs, please shoot me a quick email so I can properly credit the quote).

On the Fourth of July, our very best friend’s younger brother (21) asked a very honest question of me.

How are you so confident?

Well, I don’t know. I never really thought of it. I wasn’t always. I wasn’t a super confident kid. I wasn’t a super confident teen. I would like to hazard a guess that my confidence finally fell into place when I was around 22, freshly married to the love of my life, and finally living my own life on my own terms (our own terms is probably more accurate). I felt as if I finally came into myself at that age.

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I finally started taking care of my health. I was working out regularly, I was eating well. I was traveling a lot, I was making my own decisions, I was becoming successful. I was happy where I was going and where I’d been. I was finally confident in my own skin, and that’s about the time I began to realize that I really, really liked myself. I matured around that age, and it was so good for me.

So, when I was asked this question, my initial (cocktail-inspired) response was, “Because I’m a badass motherfucker.” Which is entirely true.

The truth is simple. I am a badass, and I’m proud of it. I’m 36. I’m in great shape. I have a great sense of style. I work hard doing what I love and loving what I do. I have four kids. I have the world’s most amazing husband. I have a beautiful home and beautiful friends and a beautiful family, and I live life on my own terms. Why wouldn’t I be confident?

Growing up, I always thought about what others thought of me. I simply did not know that it was all right if people didn’t like me. I didn’t know it was all right to be too much for some people. I didn’t know it was all right to just be myself and not worry about how that made other people feel. I wasn’t confident because I was not myself, and I didn’t own that.

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When I grew a bit older, it occurred to me that I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like being someone who was playing small and being small and living small just to fit in with other people. People I don’t even care that much for (anyone who knows me knows I keep a small, tight-knit group of people close to me and I’m not that much of a people person outside that). I wasn’t happy with me, and for what? So that I was like the other people?

Why was I wasting my time with that kind of nonsense? It was at that point I began to really come into my own. I was no longer worried about being the most overdressed person in the room. I no longer cared that I didn’t look like everyone else. I no longer cared that I didn’t live life on the same timeline as everyone else. I didn’t care that I wasn’t into the same things as everyone else. I no longer cared if people thought my ideas or my interests or my preferences were too much (I’m thinking that’s where I earned the nicknames fancy pants and princess).

That time in my life was beyond liberating. I realized that I didn’t need the approval of everyone in the room when I walked in. I simply needed my own. With that came a brand-new me. A confident me. I person who lived life on her own terms and wasn’t concerned about anyone else.

But, with that comes a few other life lessons. Confidence is not thinking you’re better than others. Confidence is knowing that you have no need or reason to compare yourself to others. I think that’s something many people forget. If you are looking to become more confident, grow your confidence, find it, whatever, maybe I can share a few words of wisdom that might help you along the way.

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Confidence is quiet

True confidence is quiet. It’s knowing you are amazing, and it’s being fine with the fact that other people might not know that. It’s being happy with yourself and not caring if other people are happy for you. Truly confident people do not feel the need to make others feel down, badly, or uncertain about themselves or their own lives. Truly confident people know that there’s room for everyone to be amazing.

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Confidence does not leave room for comparison

Those who are truly confident do not compare themselves to others because they know everyone is on a different chapter in their own book. They also know that everyone matures, grows, and thrives in their own timing. They are also happy with their own lives, so there is no need to compare (unless we are talking about actual gardens and comparing them, because I have a black thumb and I am always comparing what I did right and wrong with those who have beautiful gardens and don’t kill all the things, but you know what I mean).

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Confidence is happy

If you aren’t happy, you can’t be confident. A confident person knows how to find happiness, and they know that it’s the journey. They know that you can be perfectly happy with everything you have right now, right this moment, even if you have bigger dreams, goals, and a life to live. A truly confident person appreciates the small things now so that they can continue to appreciate the larger things later.

As my sweetest, wisest best friend, Corinna, believes, confidence is happy. If you’re not happy with your life and the way you are living – if you’re not truly happy with the little things, and appreciative of what you have, thankful for how far you’ve come, and you don’t appreciate the moment – you won’t achieve a level of confidence that’s worthwhile.

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Confidence doesn’t care

Truly confident people do not worry about what anyone else thinks about them. It’s not their business. Truly confident people live their lives worried only about whether they are living a life they love and appreciate, and they live for themselves – never for anyone else. While discussing the topic of confidence at a date night dinner last week with our best friends, our exceptionally confident best friend, Geremy, pointed out that confidence is something personal. You don’t have to believe it right away, but you have to keep telling yourself that you’re amazing – and a BAMF – until you do. Don’t worry about what others think of you, but be very careful how you think of – and talk to – yourself.

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Confidence leaves no room for regret

Regret is something I’ve always considered a wasted emotion – a lot like hate. To regret something means that you are not happy where you are in your life, which doesn’t leave room for true confidence. Your experiences might not be ones you care to repeat, but you never regret them. You learn from them, view them as a lesson, and you make positive changes so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. It’s a learning curve. If you find yourself in a place where you regret something, it’s likely a sign that you know you did not learn from the experience, you didn’t use it as a lesson, and you are not happy with yourself. Figure out why, learn from it, and change it. There is no room in life for regret.

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Confidence is generous

A truly confident person is a generous person. Someone with true confidence is always happy to tell you where they bought their shoes/coffee table/couch/dress/got their nails done/hair done/hired a house cleaner/redecorated their office/etc. A truly confident person is happy to share their successes, their advice, their inspiration. They want other people to be equally happy and successful and confident in life, and they are happy to make sure they do their part to help.

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Confidence is never too serious

When you’re confident, you can laugh at yourself. You’re confident, not perfect. You can laugh at yourself. You can poke fun at yourself. You can dish it as well as you can take it, and you sure know how to have fun. Confident people laugh loud, and they laugh meaningfully because they have absolute joy in their hearts.

At the end of the day, it’s important to realize that confidence is highly personal. It doesn’t matter how it compares to others. It doesn’t matter what others think of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re boisterous and confident or low-key confident in a way that makes you happy. What matters is that you know your worth. In all honesty, knowing your worth is all that confidence really is. And, let’s not forget to add some tax to that.

Quick Tips When You’re In A Funk

Happy Friday, loves!

Do you ever find yourself in a total funk? It’s like a weird place where you’re present in life, but you feel almost as if you’re looking at your life unfolding before you from up above; almost like a dream, if I’m putting it into a tangible concept. You can’t put your finger on the issue that’s causing your funk because you don’t really have anything to complain about. You don’t really have any issues, but yet you don’t know what the problem is that’s got you feeling as if you’re watching life unfold before you.

I spent the better part of the end of June/beginning of July in a funk. Some might say it’s because it was almost ‘that time,’ (ladies, you know), and I won’t disagree. Some months are just more difficult in that specific timeframe than others. However, it’s just not uncommon for me to find myself in a funk more often than not in the summer months.

You guys, I don’t like being hot. Rich, I know, coming from a Floridian. In all honesty, I feel as if I go through bouts of seasonal depression this time of year. it might not be truly ‘depression,’ so much as it is bouts of just blah feelings that don’t bring me much joy. I certainly don’t want to minimize the severity of seasonal depression, but I do want to bring attention to the fact that much like those who do go through that feeling in the cold winter months (not in Florida!), I feel some of the same things on a much less serious level in the summer. Why?

  • The long days are not my favorite
  • The afternoon sunlight – from about 1 pm to dusk – during summer is such an unattractive color that bothers me endlessly
  • The heat is stifling
  • The humidity is nothing short of oppressive
  • The way it feels so sticky following the rain is so gross
  • I hate sweat
  • I don’t like to feel hot
  • I don’t like that it’s just so gross outside the kids can’t even play outdoors and enjoy themselves because it’s miserably hot and dangerously humid

I know it’s the unpopular opinion, but I’m simply not a summer fan. Don’t get me wrong – I love summer in that it’s such a time of freedom and relaxation. I love that there is no responsibility in summer. I love the feeling of easiness and slow enjoyment summer brings. I love that the kids are so relaxed. I love afternoon thunderstorms – they give me so much life and so much joy – and river house days and pool days and summer nights. I love the Fourth of July. I love so much about summer except for summer itself. I love the summer mornings and the way the morning sun looks pouring in our doors and windows. I love the mornings in summer. It’s just that darn afternoon sunlight that brings me down. I can’t explain it. I just feel blah in the afternoons during summer, and sometimes I find myself in a funk if we have endless days of sunshine. My funk immediately disappears when the sun is gone and the rain comes in the afternoon. Which, I believe, is why the end of June and beginning of July were funk weeks for me – too much sunshine and weeks without a cloud in the sky.

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I’ve already got my countdown to the official fall season (which begins September 1st in my house). It brings me life and endless good moods until June rolls around again. Honestly, I might as well be useless for three months from June through the end of August. But, in in all honestly, I want to be transparent and honest. This is not a good time of year for my attitude, and I know that. I know it every year. I don’t know how to change that, so I just do my very best to focus on finding small ways to help improve my blasé attitude in the afternoons throughout summer.

Maybe this will help someone who has the same issue. Maybe it will help someone who really doesn’t live their best life too often. Maybe it will help someone who has the same guilt and feelings of ‘what is wrong with me?’ that I deal with off and on for the three longest months of the year. I know I have nothing to complain about. I know I have nothing to worry about. I know I have nothing to stress me out. Yet, I find myself really down sometimes for a few hours in the afternoon.

So, here’s what I’ve been implementing this year. I’ve asked my doctor for suggestions, I’ve asked around, I’ve done my research, and there are a few things that have really minimized my ‘summer afternoon seasonal down-ness’ significantly this summer.

I check in with myself

At the beginning of the week, I do a quick check-in with myself. I do this Monday morning prior to doing anything else (save for hitting snooze once or twice and then making a cup of coffee and meandering into my office). I sit down with my journal and write down the following:

  • My priority for the week
  • What I want to do less of this week
  • What I want to do more of this week
  • How I want to feel this week
  • How I can make sure I feel this way this week
  • What I’d like to remember in moments of ‘down-ness’

Throughout the week, I check on that list to make sure I’m doing what I can to make it as realistic as possible. It’s important for me to remember that this is not a list of major goals. It’s a simple priority list. What I need the most that week is my priority, and it doesn’t matter if it’s big, small, minor, simple, life-changing, etc. It’s just the priority I need to focus on any given week.

Change negative thinking

I’m not immune to negative thoughts. No one is, if we are being honest. However, I try hard to make sure they don’t linger. I try to stop them in their tracks. It’s not always easy for me since I’m a creative person by nature, and my mind tends to run away quickly and efficiently a thousand miles a minute (writer’s hazard, I suppose). I don’t even notice when my mind turns to the negative until it’s been there a few moments, but I’m learning to recognize, realize, and refocus quickly.

Trust me – it’s a habit that takes time to develop.

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Breathing is what helps me most. I learned in my favorite yoga class to try five count breathing when I need to slow down my racing mind (and heart) and refocus myself. Sit quietly, close your eyes, count to five slowly while inhaling, hold your breath for a count of five, exhale slowly for a count of five. Repeat until you find yourself at peace. It helps rearrange your thoughts and refocus your feelings. Trust me, it’s effective.

Write down happy thoughts. This is another helpful tool. Writing down a few things that bring me joy is a quick and simple way to change my pattern of thought. Again, this doesn’t have to be a long list of beautiful things that make you happy. It can be the simplest thing. The only rule is that it must be something that brings you joy.

Stop and do something else

There are times when I’m feeling myself in a funk, and I just need to stop what I’m doing in that moment. Sometimes this means putting things to the side and leaving the house. Maybe a family dinner out. Maybe a family walk. Maybe a quick game of cards or Yahtzee with the kids. A second workout for the day. A conversation with someone I love. Sometimes, the best thing I do for myself is put down what I’m doing and make my way into the office to sit down on my husband’s lap and interrupt his work for a long hug. I mean, what’s better?

Write

You don’t even want to know how many rambling thoughts I have written down. In notebooks. On pieces of paper I find in my desk. On my computer. On my iPad. On the notes section of my phone. In email drafts. The best therapy is a writing session. Don’t worry about grammar or form or function or readability. Just write. Write what’s on your mind, what’s on your heart, what’s in your life. You don’t even have to know what you are writing. The simple fact that you’re able to take those thoughts and put them somewhere outside your brain is a kind of release that is literally freeing.

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Remember that it’s okay to feel less than perfect

It’s hard, I know, to fully comprehend that everyone goes through down days. It’s not easy to remember that you are not alone. It’s not easy to remember that most people keep their bad days to themselves. You are not alone. You are not by yourself in this. Everyone has off days. Just look at me – I have off weeks during the summer because it’s just hot and miserable and not my favorite. But, the good news is that you can change that. You can easily turn a blah day around, get out of a funk, and focus on far better things. It’s easier said than done, but it’s going to become habit to quickly turn your thoughts around.

***Also, please remember that while a funk might occasionally be a normal thing to feel, and having a bad day or a grouchy day, or a PMS-y week might be totally normal, feelings of absolute darkness, despair, dangerous or harmful thoughts, and the inability to find the joy in anything are indicative of a major health concern; please call your doctor if you experience any of these feelings. He or she can help you figure out what’s going on, run tests to see if there is anything going on in your body you cannot see, and they can help you work through this. I am not a doctor, I do not have experience with serious mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety, and my suggestions are not medically based in any capacity.