I used to be best friends with the negative voice inside my head—a voice so normal to me that I never questioned it.
It would say things like:
Are you really wearing that outfit?
You’re. Not. Good. Enough.
Please. He’ll never talk to you.
I bet you can’t do that.
Of course she ran a marathon. You won’t.
Harping on what made me feel sad or discouraged became a vicious cycle. I was hyper-aware of what I was not and what I did not have. I could articulate these things, but I didn’t do much to change my life beyond that.
The spiral of negativity never let me do anything. It held me back. It helped me not apply for jobs I was more than qualified for. It helped me linger in an abusive relationship. It helped me not take care of myself. You see where I’m going here?
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Basically, this attitude saturated my life. Everything was washed in a grey stain. My friends had negative sides—and we’d link up and look at everything with a dark tinge. Instead of being happy for other people, I just focused on my own loss or lack of achievements. I was often jealous of others. Essentially, I was on the fast track to nowhere.
Then one day, I started to daydream. I imagined myself happier, more successful, at peace. I found myself wondering: If I spent less time feeling bitter, then could I do other things? Like, say, get a book published? Take up running? Approach a potential new friend after a Pilates class? Feel more confident?
They all seemed like lofty ideas. Yeah right, Stephanie, that’ll never happen. Just stay here, where it’s comfortable.
Then, I snapped. I finally realized I wasn’t accomplishing much (or anything) with this kind of thinking. In fact, most experiences and interactions seemed smudged with negativity and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like looking at the world, my life, or other people that way.
This is not to say that I didn’t have happy or feel-good moments. I did, but they weren’t plentiful–because I was hell-bent on manifesting a life full of no’s.
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I needed a change stat. I took stock of the things that I was experiencing: poor body image, inconsistent sleep, low energy, irritability. Honestly, who wants to feel like that all the time?
I wanted to see the light in situations and my life as a whole.
It started by making a pledge to myself to stop seeing myself as weak. If I wanted feel better, I had to be better. And letting go of negativity helped me start a life journey full of health and wellness.
Not all of this change happened over night. It took a few years. And I sometimes still struggle with it. But, looking back, I’ve accomplished so much more: I went from being inactive to being a HIIT workout warrior, a runner who completed my first timed 5k (!), a meditation enthusiast, and positive force in my own life and in the lives of my nearest and dearest friends and loved ones.
How did I get here? Here’s my tool-kit for wellness, fitness, and contentment. You can modify my ideas to fit your needs and take from this list what you want and need. You’re worth it and so am I.
1. Recognize your feelings and then let them go.
Being human is awesome because that means we have a myriad of experiences, emotions, and deep connections. Yeah, it can also be tough, bleak, and crushing. You are allowed to feel angry, jealous, jaded, mad, and upset. These are all valid feelings. Talk about it with a friend, a coach, a trusted mentor, or journal them out.
Then, release them. You said your piece. Now move on. Whatever your situation may be, there might be one, two, or three things you can do to change it or cope with it better. Start moving.
2. Let go again and again.
Yeah, you’re going to still feel negativity. You are human, after all! Practice the art of letting go again and again. How can you cope? Distract yourself. Call a friend. Go for a run. Try a workout video in the comfort and privacy of your own home (I’m partial to Yoga with Adriene–she’s super zen and fun!). Meditate. Journal. Watch a movie. Develop a self-care plan. There’s so much more that you can do.
3. Get physical.
In my case, my negativity fueled my desire to avoid taking risks. Working out was too risky because I was convinced I would for sure, 100 percent, fail at it. And I did fail for a long, long time. This is because I already not-so-secretly decided that I wasn’t a “fitness person” (whatever that means). So essentially, I made a prophecy and I fulfilled it tenfold because I consciously and subconsciously told myself that I just could not do it.
Well, change it up! I dove deep into HIIT, Crossfit, and running. I didn’t do them all at the same time, but I did explore each of them at my own pace. And my life certainly changed for the better with these mega awesome fitness journeys. I convinced myself that I could never be a runner. Now, in 2017, I ran my first timed 5k.
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I was so happy when I crossed the finish line that I burst into streams of tears. I accomplished a three-mile run in just 32 minutes. The joy I felt after finishing my first run was priceless. And now, I want to recreate that joy again and again. I try to do so by accessing a support network of other people who care about these things and will maybe take a fitness class or go for a run with me.
4. Be present.
My go-to trick? Meditation. It helps relax me and feel at peace. And, it’s a great way to zone out when my brain is constantly barking about something negative or self-deprecating. I like to re-center myself and keep my mind healthy (because our minds