LEARNING THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING (ON MY NEGATIVE DAYS)

When I woke up this morning, I was not feeling particularly positive.

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You see, I am ~almost~ ill right now.

What I mean by that is that I am tired and rundown and I have a choice to make: I can either lie on the sofa, open the Netflix app and neglect to move for a few days as I work towards a recovery, or I can haul my arse in the direction of the shower, fill myself up with vitamins and get out the house and on with my life.

Anyone who has met my mother (or who follows me on Instagram) will know which one of these options I went for.

I’m high off my tits on vitamin C, covered in makeup and have been working from a friend’s office incase the temptation of the sofa became too overwhelming.

I have literally seen my mother take to her bed with an illness once in my life thus far and I think I might have inherited this inability to indulge the idea of a pillow until it’s dark outside.

Now I know that if I were really ill I would not be up and about, so please don’t for a moment think I’m sitting here humble-bragging about what a fucking legend I am for taking on my bacteria and WINNING because I’m a champion. I don’t have the flu or tonsillitis or even a proper cold and therefore am not trying to shame anyone who has taken to their beds with any of these very real ailments.

No, what I am actually doing is using this as an excuse to explore this idea of positive thinking.

Because when I woke up this morning I was about 85% negative.

5% positive thanks to the coffee that Alex brought me in bed, 5% because it is Friday and a further 5% because I felt an icy, jumper weather-esque breeze roll in through the window and I have literally been waiting three months for a gust of wind like that.

Predominantly though, it was just one of those bad mornings. I wasn’t really that ill, I was just feeling sorry for myself and thankful for the slight tickle in my throat for acting as the perfect excuse for a total lack of motivation.

It’s fine, I reasoned, if I take today off. No one can give their all, all the time. You’re running yourself thin, calm down, rest, you can try again another time.

All well and good, until the internal conflict, brought on by the enormous amount of guilt I feel ALL THE TIME (thank anxiety), began and I started to feel desperately ashamed of myself for exaggerating an illness and basically skipping out on my life.

Yes, it IS exhausting being in my head.

I was the type of child that went to school even when they were poorly, not just because my mum was (as mentioned earlier) hard as nails, but because I was never really sure that I was ill enough to warrant going to bed.

What if by 10am I realised that I was absolutely fine? Then I’ve lied. Oh my god. My teachers, they’ll know. They’ll never trust me again. What if I get really ill next week but can’t take the day off because we all know the tale of the boy that cried wolf now don’t we!?

I did actually get really ill with (swine, but the school wouldn’t admit it at the time) flu in 2010 by the way, and they were, I think, the only days I spent in bed in my whole life until I was struck down with shingles in 2015.

(I’ve written before about the pressure to be a girl boss by the way, if you’re one of these EXTRA DRIVEN people exploding under the pressure put on you by society… hi, you can read it here).

ANYWAY, I DIGRESS.

Back to this morning and my decision to get up, put my positive pants on, get a berroca in me and crack on with it babes.

You can’t win every day, I’m a big believer in that.

Some days are just not your days. We all watched Friends, we know by now that famously, some of us will have days, weeks, months, even years (god forbid) when things just don’t go our way.

Today, I’m sure, was one of those days for me.

But something else I’ve come to realise, as I accept this massively frustrating part of being human, is that the minute you take on this attitude you might find yourself being all too ready to throw in the towel the minute things start to go tits up.

I’m an omen gal, I believe in superstitions, I quite like my routine, I think things happen for a reason.

This makes me a prime candidate for being the type of person who can ruin their entire day because they got out of bed on the wrong side. Or actually, just for getting out of bed wrong. 

Whether that’s thanks to oversleeping or not making the bed or waking up and realising I have something to do that I’d forgotten about, if I don’t have a positive morning, I am unlikely to allow myself a positive day.

Which is a good and a bad thing.

A good thing because I’ve, for the most part, got over this desperate need to put loads of pressure on my myself all of the time and am able to walk away from things when they’re just not going the way that they should be.

A bad thing because if it’s all gone pete-tong before breakfast I’m normally alright with allowing lunch and dinner to be a write off too.

I am the daily, human equivalent of fucking up your diet on a Monday afternoon and deciding to start it again next week.

Does that make sense?

What I’m still trying really hard to get the hang of is positive thinking as a means of turning a day around.

Looking for light in amongst the dark, if you are, like me, fond of a cliche.

What I basically can’t do is pull myself out of a rut, put things into perspective and try and make things better for myself, opting instead to let the sun, the earth on it’s axis and the bizarre concept of time do it’s thing.

Which doesn’t always work.

Because sometimes 10 hours of darkness, a weird dream that you’d bumped into one of your teachers at a bowling alley and waking up with your pillow imprinted on your face is not enough to shake off the negativity that clouded you the day before and you need to take matters into your own hands.

And by that I mean, be proactive with your emotions.

My mum always said (oh my god, do I want to talk about her anymore in this blog post I swear to heaven Freud would have a field day with me right now) that if you can’t be happy then you can at least pretend to be.

She didn’t mean it in a way to diminish the seriousness of mental health or undermine our emotions, she only meant: sometimes you can’t be happy but the best thing you can do is TRY to be.

Pretend that you are and who knows, after a little while, your body might start to believe it.

Maybe that’s a massively simplistic and ridiculous way of looking at the world but from time to time, it works, for me at least.

Earlier this week, the world lost someone that brought light into so many people’s lives. The brilliant broadcaster and podcast host Rachael Bland died after an unbelievably heroic battle with cancer and I, like so many others, was heartbroken at her passing.

She was a true force and inspiration.

After finding out that she had only a few days left, she shared a goodbye message on both Twitter and Instagram:

“In the words of the legendary Frank S – I’m afraid the time has come my friends.
And suddenly. I’m told I’ve only got days. It’s very surreal.
Thank you so very very much for all your support I’ve received along the way.”

The same day, Deborah James (@bowelbabe) shared Rachael’s photo on Instagram with the caption:

“Right now all I ask is that you go and do something that makes you feel alive. That reminds you how lucky you are to just wake up and breathe. Cancer you can go fuck yourself.”

In truth, this is the thing that enabled me to get the fuck over myself and be positive today.

Because following the story of these amazing women and their fantastic podcast (You Me & The Big C) has made me, and so many others, appreciate how incredibly precious life is. How lucky we are to be here. How often we take things for granted and how important it is to live for every day.

Some of my days will still be fuck ups and write-offs, but I hope they will be fewer and further between as I take inspiration from the beautiful and courageous Rachael Bland.

In my four year blogging history I have never before published a blog post on a friday night, assuming, probably correctly, that everyone is down the pub or in the cinema or just with better things to do with their time than read whatever collection of words I have mashed together and put on the internet, but such was the feeling of surprise I felt when I realised that not only was I not feeling so negative anymore but decidedly positive, I realised I ought to share this, not least of all so that it can act as evidence next time I want to write off a day because I have a tickle in my throat at 7.10am.

At about 10am I left the house, I was covered in makeup, wearing dungarees which I am pretty sure are scientifically proven to make you happier, listening to the Foo Fighters (perfectly capable of frightening any negativity away) and ready to give being positive a bash.

I didn’t want to write today off, in part because I was bored of giving up on days, in part because I bloody love Fridays but mostly because life is too short not to at least try and be as positive as possible.

Ironically enough, as it transpires, I actually am now feeling decidedly poorly, but the good news is: I’m smiling about it.

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1 Comment

  1. September 7, 2018 / 7:20 pm

    I can relate to this, also I know how it is hard to carry on working like there is nothing wrong when ill – when I say ill, it can be illness on any level. I will be honest, I don’t know what is wrong with me.

    I’m 26 and I have had a mystery illness since 16, no doctor can pin point what the heck is wrong. So, I did what everyone else does – symptom checks on the internet… but it looks like its got me going in the right place now. I may have a condition called Fibromyalgia – it sucks, but you get over the pain issues and deal with it.

    But now I have had to hand in my resignation at work due to the heavy physical work load and concentrate on getting a part time job and focus on my motoring journalism – yes, blame your dad and his mates for that. Now i have the time to focus on my health, my happiness and my future.

    I’m scared, but also very excited. my body is ruined, but my brain and soul fights on.

    Thanks for writing this piece too, I enjoy reading your stuff, I understand and relate to it. (I write on Drivetribe, but I have dyslexia, did shit at school and no University.)

    Love

    Emma V. x

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