Be like a sunset

When I was in high school and college I always tried to be optimistic, positive, and NICE! But instead of making me feel good, it actually felt pretty bad.

I thought that optimism meant being positive no matter what even if I was blinding myself and ignoring how I truly felt.

My old definition of optimism:

Scenario #1: HUGE EXAM

Internal Dialogue #1. “You know what? It doesn’t matter that I have only 8 hours until my Biochemistry exam and I haven’t studied at all.  I’ll overcome it anyway. I’m so SMART! I’ll be fine. I’ll just try and get an A and study REALLY hard all 5 chapters right now.”

Scenario #2: BODY GRUMBLING

Internal Dialogue #2. “I don’t like my tummy… /Alia! You shouldn’t say that! Your tummy is fine!/ No it’s not./ YES IT IS. You shouldn’t say that! Everything is GREAT. LOVE YOUR BODY”

Scenario #3: NOTICING A PATTERN

Internal Dialogue #3.  “I’ve been feeling really low for the last 6 months. But maybe that’s how I’ve always been. I’m sure if I keep trying, everything will be better. Yes, everything’s fine.”

So while these thoughts may seem perfectly innocent and well-intentioned, what happened is, these ‘optimistic’ thoughts actually ended up hurting me. Why? Because I was pushing aside how I really felt. And trying to mask the feeling with a false layer of sugar-coated OPTIMISM.

That just kept me in denial. And feeling like shit.

True optimism feels really good. Not by masking what’s wrong, but by shifting focus to what’s right.

The point is not to fight the dark. We are living creatures of dark and light. flawed and perfect. wrong and right. And that’s the natural duality of who we are.

But you see, fighting the dark takes a lot of effort and leaves us feeling drained. What I am proposing here is a mix of acceptance and a little bit of searching. Searching for what is right, what is good, what IS working.

DSC_0164

See! Dark and light is so beautiful together. Like a sunset. See what I’m going for here? Get it? Hm? Hm? Ok, nevermind.

Let’s look back at the Scenarios with my new found belief of optimism:

Internal Dialogue Shift #1. Damn, this is a lot of material! Um, okay. What chapters do I feel more comfortable with than others? Probably better to focus my efforts on the material I feel excited about and fortify my knowledge on those areas. So, maybe I won’t do perfectly on the exam, but I’ll do well on some sections and hopefully that will compensate. In the last hour of study, I can do a sweeping overview of everything else. (Being realistic in this scenario gives me more fuel because now I have smaller chunks to focus my time and effort on)

Internal Dialogue Shift #2. Grr. I don’t like the way my tummy looks.  Hey wait, look at how lovely my waist looks when I straighten my back and lengthen my posture. Mmm, and my legs. They are so tan and long and muscular. (See what I’m doing here? I’m not trying to fight the voice that says it doesn’t like my tummy. But rather, I hear it, and then bring my attention to what I do like)

Internal Dialogue Shift #3. Okay, Ali, it seems you’re having a really hard time living here. What can I do to help you? I know you’ve been considering that you might have depression. Why don’t you reach out to some women and ask if they know any good therapists here so you can get that checked out? (Now, I’m admitting how I REALLY feel instead of running away from it. Acknowledging it gives me power, because now I am in a position to do something to help it)
Some of my favourite ways to bring LIGHT to a situation

1. Love Letters (to myself, to a partner, to my mother…)

2. Gratitude Lists (I do this at least 3x a week and share it with a huge community of women. It’s an incredible practice!)

3. 10 Frustrations and 20 Happys (I have no idea how this game got started, but I think one day, I decided to rant to my guy in 10 pulls and then end it with 20 things I am happy about. We do it every now and then and it’s a lovely shift if there’s something occupying my mind.)

This is a muscle that I will be working on my whole life. Seeing the glass as half-full rather than half empty. But it’s a practice.

So dear friends, what are your favourite ways to feel optimistic or better about a situation? Do you find yourself pushing away how you feel in efforts to be ‘positive?’ Share below!!! And thank you for reading :)

xo
Alia

Advertisements

I’m afraid to post this.

Today, I want to talk about faking it.

Let me start by saying that I have had body issues my whole life. Serious body hate all funneled towards my tummy, my thighs, and any other part that is less than perfect. And before I get a slew of comments saying “but Alia, you are beautiful!!!”, I want to share that it doesn’t matter. At the end, there is always something to criticize, always something to tone, shrink or make better. And I know I am not the only woman to feel this way.

I spent a chunk of my teenage years obese and never really wore a bathing suit. It was always bathing suit + cover up. Always. 

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself on a little slice of paradise. Akin to Lake Tahoe, Pucón is an extreme-adventure town in Southern Chile. We spent our first day at the beach. Just THINKING about it stressed me out. I was going to be there with my man and his family. Chileans all wear bikinis. I only have old-lady one-piece “Miracle suits”.  I was freaking OUT. I’m pretty sure I dedicated at least 10 hours of my precious sister-time trying on/shopping for something MORE flattering, complaining, fretting, & cowering in front of the mirror. I wish I was exaggerating. Ha.

Fast forward to the beach. Playa Blanca. Brilliant blue waters, a snow-covered volcano in the background, and hundreds of women in Bikinis.

Image

Bathing suit and cover up in hand. I decided ENOUGH. This time I was going to wear JUST my bathing suit. And fake it. Fake it that I have ALWAYS done this. Pretend that I thought my body was PERFECT in my bathing suit. Walk like I FELT gorgeous. And I was going to spend EVERY ounce of my fear and CHANNEL it to that endeavor.
And I did.

Sometimes our fear can ONLY dissipate when we dive into it, head first, with all we’ve got. I straightened my shoulders, lifted my chin, and used my body language to pretend everything I wanted to feel. There’s an EXCELLENT Ted Talk on this (how confidence is AFFECTED by our body language and not the other way around.

So maybe this is one of many major steps to full self-love and crazy hands-down acceptance. And maybe I have long way to go. But this ROCKED. And I will keep on doing it any time that nasty monster of doubt creeps in and tells me I shouldn’t/can’t/won’t. It sure beats the latter.

FAKE IT.

DSC_0263

So! My dear friends. When has this worked for you? What do you think? Please say so in the comments below! I love to hear what you have to say!