I’ve been working to be more mindful. I’m not good at it, but I’m better than I was before and that’s something. I’m better at recognizing my emotions and not identifying with them. I’m better at focusing on my breathing. The biggest struggle for me has always been stopping negative thoughts and turning them into positive thoughts. How do you do that?
On an episode of Jay Shetty‘s podcast, he interviewed Tom Bilyeu. The topic was Breaking Negative Thought Patterns and Stop Being Lazy About Your Growth. One of the things they talk about is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which is essentially retraining your brain to recognize negative thoughts right away and to stop being reactive to them.
An example that Jay frequently gives in his podcast is to say, “I am grateful for this thought because it reminds me that I am grateful for…” Then, you finish with a person, experience, etc. for which you are grateful.
I have never been able to recognize a negative thought and turn it around like that. The best I had been able to do was to recognize a negative thought and then try so hard to find something positive about it that I eventually forget what the thought was that I had in the first place.
Today was a rough, and a long, day. At work, we have a phone team. It consists of two receptionists and theoretically 4-6 Service Specialists. Service Specialists get rotated off of the phone team when a new Service Specialist is hired and trained. We had four, but one is out on maternity leave. Both of our receptionists are out today and tomorrow, so we’re down to just three Service Specialists. Two other employees volunteered to be backups to help us out. I am the primary phone person, so essentially the receptionist, for these two days.
This morning, the phones were acting up and they would ring and ring, but when we tried to answer, the call would drop. After about an hour, our IT guy had that problem resolved. After a little while, my phone crashed and tried to reboot and then it couldn’t connect to the server. The IT guy helped me get that back up. It was also difficult to get work done because every time I’d settle into something, the phone would ring and I’d have to spend a few minutes on the phone. My immediate thought was today is the worst day ever.
The internal monologue went something like this…
I didn’t quite get to the point where I said I was grateful for the thought, but I did get to a feeling of gratitude from a negative thought. I’m not sure that using other negative thoughts to compare is the right path, either, but it’s a step in the right direction. At least I did get to a positive head space.
Since writing the above paragraph, I discovered that I was conned and double charged by a car rental company. The negative thoughts that followed that encounter lasted a lot longer, I can assure you. I was definitely reactive. However, I have calmed myself down now and I am grateful for my car and that my mechanic was able to fix it relatively inexpensively. I am grateful that this experience opened my eyes to what goes on at car rental companies and I will be much more careful in future because of it.
It was a learning experience. I will not take what is said at face value and I will not electronically sign for a rental car. While the experience left me feeling agitated, I am grateful for the knowledge I gained. I am also grateful that I have the tools to relieve the agitation and get into a better head space.
It’s ironic that this should come up while I’m writing about mindfulness. I shouldn’t have expected any less, though. That’s how the universe works. I was just reading the other day where someone said that people never own up to their mistakes. I thought about it for a long time. I do own up to my mistakes when faced with them, but I don’t necessarily admit that I was wrong or expose my faults when I don’t have to do so. Here is an opportunity for me.
I should not have called customer service while in the reactionary state I was in. I did not yell at the customer service representative, but I did raise my voice, which is honestly just as bad. Having worked in customer service my entire adult life, I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of that. I could have been kinder. I should have been kinder. I should have taken a moment (or several) to get myself out of that reactionary state before calling. I should have done better. I failed.
This failure does not mean that I will always fail. I will practice recognizing my negative thoughts and turning them to positives. I will practice not reacting. I will do better next time. That’s all I can do.
My apologies for the disjointedness of this post. I just felt it was important for me to include what just happened to me and to admit I was wrong, rather than to hide that while posting about a small success in mindfulness. It would have been hypocritical of me to do that. I am not a perfect person. I don’t always get it right. Today, I didn’t get it right. Tomorrow, I will do better.