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A stressed perfectionist's guide to positive thinking

My problem with positive thinking is that I always feel like I'm lying.

 I try to be positive, but it just feels like a cover up. I can still feel the bad thoughts simmering underneath, and they feel deeper than the positive thoughts. They feel like truth.

That being said, when I'm feeling sad and discouraged and disgusted with myself, I really do try to turn my mood around. I say, "Julia, no. You're not bad" or "think of the good stuff you've done" or "those aren't the things that matter anyways." 

sometimes my beautiful friends are my models

But there's a difference between telling yourself something and believing it. The stuff I tell myself when my eyes are brimming with tears in ballet class, or I'm feeling discouraged, or when I'm disappointed in my lack of productivity; that's not positive thinking.

That's positive hiding, and positive lying. That's positive-covering-an-ugly-thought-up-with-a-cheery-one. When you genuinely believe, in the most rational part of your brain, that you're just plain bad, (and I think we all feel this way occasionally), anything else is a lie. Positive thinking feels like a facade to make yourself feel better, like a cotton-candy covering that doesn't really solve the problem.

For me, for some reason, no amount of "Julia, you're awesome! You rock! You're totally killing it!" is ever going to make me feel better when I'm feeling down. Maybe I'm just chronically self-conscious, I dunno. I just can't bring myself to believe that stuff.

But there's some stuff I've found that, even on the worst, I-genuinely-believe-I-am-awful days, makes me feel a little bit more positive. Believably positive. 

If I'm having a pessimistic day, I try going through these steps in my brain (because I'm obsessed with breaking everything down into steps and plans). Some days, step one makes me feel a bit better. Sometimes, I gotta go to step two to start feeling a bit more believably positive. Some days I need step three, and some days I need step four. Anyways, here they are:

 Step 1:  Remember that, often times, what feels like a horrible day is really just a crummy five minutes.

We tend to assign more weight to bad things than good things, and we tend to lug the bad things with us all day long. More about this here.

Step 2: Use your anger/ sadness/ discouraged-ness

If you're really mad and filled with rage, be mad. Write an angry manifesto. If you're sad, write a really emotional blog post that you'll never actually publish. Sometimes when I'm in ballet class and I'm feeling really mad, I let myself dance mad. I practice pirouettes aggressively in a corner, or I pretend like every grand battement is a kick in the shins of my enemies. Is this good? Probably not. But sometimes it feels good. The point is: let yourself feel the things you're feeling. You don't have to smile. You can say, "I'm having a crap day." People will understand.


Step 3- Remind yourself that it's all part of your life story. 

Maybe you feel like you're kinda in a rut. But maybe that's how this little bit of your story is supposed to go (after all, a story with zero bad parts is pretty darn boring).

I remember once, when I was performing in the Nutcracker and everything was going wrong and I was sick with fear, I kept frantically saying, "I'm so afraid I'm going to mess up again, I'm so afraid I'm going to mess up again, I'm so afraid I'm going to mess up. " And my ballet teacher just looked at me and said, "Okay Julia, mess up. Let yourself mess it all up. Make a million mistakes."

That completely shocked me, and I think it changed my life a little bit. Such a concept was not in my vocabulary. I had never, in all of my life, let myself think that before. Letting myself make mistakes?? Letting myself be bad?? That was completely out of the question. That was everything I was working so hard not to do. I worked my butt off in ballet precisely so I wouldn't be bad, so I wouldn't fail. But it backfired, because I was so obsessed with not making mistakes, that they kept happening. Mistakes are a normal and annoying part of life, like flu shots and late night study sessions and leaving voicemails.

If you feel like you're bad, let yourself be bad for a while. Don't make yourself sick and crazy avoiding mistakes, because they'll come anyways. Good novels naturally rise and fall, and chances are, the next chapter of your life story will get a bit better on its own. :)

Step 4- Survive. It'll be over soon. 

When worst comes to worst and I've tried to make myself feel better in whatever way I can, I tell myself one last thing: just hold on. Soon this day will be over and you will be in your bed, watching Youtube videos, eating hummus (just me?). Everybody has crummy days sometimes. Get through it, and trust that tomorrow will be a better one.

Okay, my friends, that's all the advice I have. In a kind of long and rambly way. I hope, if you're the type of person who gets occasionally pessimistic, that this helped you a little bit. I dunno. But it helps me. :)

♡ Julia (Have a wonderful day!)


32 comments

  1. I relate to #2 on a spiritual level, haha - whenever I am angry or upset I channel all of that energy into my dance routines or write very aggressively. Not quite sure if this is a healthy way of handling bad days, but it works regardless.
    - katrina // Yours Truly, Katrina

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    1. Ahahah I think it's definitely healthier than some alternatives!! Thanks for reading, katrina :)

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  2. I identified with pretty much everything in this post. Positive thinking always feels like something I should be doing rather than something I believe in, but that's not how it works

    - Natalie
    www.workovereasy.com

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    1. That's exactly how I feel-- we just need to work on it, I guess!

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  3. This is me, complete with feeling like a liar. Lately, I have dealt with a lot of anger and frustration, and at first I felt terrible about it... like I should force myself to feel differently. But! Emotions serve a purpose and it's really better to, sometimes, let yourself get them out.

    BTW, your teacher's advice reminded me: one of my directors always told us "if you're gonna mess up, mess up big. Own it, learn from it, and move on." Sage advice, right there.

    www.waltzandwillow.com

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    1. That is some good advice. Sometimes it's hard to remember, especially if you're a perfectionist-type person. But it's definitely true!

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  4. I think it's always great to have a positive mind-set even through the hard times, yes you can accept that you're down but it's how we react to things that's important. Don't dwell on the negatives, move on and approach things with a calm attitude and things will start to turn around.

    A great post :)

    Laura x
    www.shehearts.net

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    1. So true! Thanks for reading, Laura :)

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  5. Writing my feelings down or even talking to someone helps. It's always such a relief to get it out and then move on from it! Always love your honest and deep posts!

    Tina
    www.justatinabit.com

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    1. Aw thanks, Tina! I love to write deep and honest things. :) Thanks for your comment.

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  6. These are just wonderful tips girl! Step 2 really is the important one that we always tend to not use. I use to write, draw, or create other art with sad feelings and afterwards I felt so much better. This was a good reminder for myself so thank you so much! <3

    Stacey + thebambieyes.com

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Stacey. Thanks so much for reading!

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  7. Ohmygosh I feel like I totally needed this today! I've been having a crummy day, but you're right, it was only like a crummy 5 minutes and now I've let it affect my whole day! It happens. I try to take deep breaths and calm myself. I totally get being a perfectionist and stressing yourself out. I do it all the time with my blog. Usually my boyfriend puts me in my place though haha. Great tips!

    -Emily www.coatandcoffee.com

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    1. Aw I'm glad you found it helpful. We all have bad days. :)

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  8. This is actually one of the best posts on 'positive thinking' that I've read. You're so right, it can't be forced but there are definitely ways to help yourself get through bad days and your tips are great. Sometimes you really do need to let yourself just feel what you're feeling. Some of the best works of art/pieces of music etc have actually come out of using those negative emotions and letting it out in a productive way...And at the end of the day, I agree that there are better days to look forward to...and yes to Youtube videos and hummus in bed. :D

    Samio
    http://www.samio.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you, Samio! That's so nice to hear. And I totally agree- art often comes from a place of struggle. And yay for hummus in bed. Thanks for reading!

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  9. Positive thinking isn't achieved by one day or few minutes, it's a hard process of accepting the situation the way it is and learning to accept it and move on. I struggled with it too few year ago but now I can say that I'm pretty good at positive thinking. All these steps you mentioned really do help. I hope that it will become easier someday for you :)

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

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    1. That's so great that you're getting better at positive thinking. Thanks so much, Leta :)

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  10. I can definitely relate to this. I love the idea of always being positive, but I know I'm not. These steps will be nice to keep in mind, thank you!

    Amber - amberelb.com

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    1. Glad you liked it, thanks for reading!

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  11. Always positive things!!! xx
    Mónica Sors
    MES VOYAGES À PARIS
    NEW POST: CASUAL LOOK WITH JEANS + OTK BOOTS

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  12. Great post + so important to keep in mind- I think we all fall victim to negative thought patterns from time to time!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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    1. I think we all do- thanks for your comment, Ashley!

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  13. I think this is exactly what I needed today! Especially Step 3. I never like to let myself make mistakes, but I guess that's just what is going to happen sometimes and I need to let it happen.
    I will keep these steps in mind on my perpetual quest for positive thinking!Thank you!

    Sage

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    1. I so agree, it can be tough sometimes. I wish you the best, thanks for reading!

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  14. Thanks for such a lovely and insightful post. I definitely tend to be a perfectionist sometimes, and I've found that many of these tips really do help me feel better. Being a bit more optimistic definitely takes practice.

    -Helen
    Sweet Helen Grace

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    1. So true-- thanks for your comment, Helen :)

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  15. This was such a beautiful post; your approach to positive thinking is really lovely and inspiring. Plus, I love how you mention it all being part of our life stories :)

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

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    1. Thank you Gabrielle! Yes, I always try to remind myself that.

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  16. You look so pretty!

    Xx,

    || FLOORTJELOVES ||

    www.floortjeloves.com
    www.bloglovin.com/blogs/floortjeloves-12198253

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I’m a 19-year old college student who’s still very much “in bluhm” (heh) but I’m figuring it out as I go, laptop in hand.
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