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Real Talk.

I’m ready to check in with some writings of value or importance to me.

A friend and I were discussing how the world as of late can weigh you down, especially during tumultuous times such as the recent US election season and inauguration. It’s easy to become swept up in the huge amounts of negativity that seems to be everywhere. I suggested a simple meditation, a loose form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or “brain retraining.” He remarked he hasn’t the time or money to make this happen. I remarked it cost me no time and $0. Here’s what I said.

I started with small steps… paying attention to what I was thinking and how I tended to react to things. I placed a large focus on keeping unforeseen events and feelings in perspective and organizing them based on real, not perceived, importance. I started cutting out all the extra bullshit from my life.

Once I cut out the distractions, I could concentrate by focusing and meditating (thinking about, relaxing) on what truly matters to me and the person I want to be.

Here is an example:

OK, I am in bad traffic and I am running late for a class (or work or whatever). Instead of my old reaction of some sort of road rage, I tried putting on music or podcasts I liked, breathed deeply, realized others around me were going through the same shit, and tried to think about something positive.

So, let’s plan. What are the consequences of being late? Don’t jump to the worst possible outcome because being locked out of the class and publicly ridiculed will likely not happen today. What is the true, realistic outcome? Being late to class means it will be embarrassing for one class session because I have to walk in late, and quietly shut the door. No one else will remember this in a day. Nobody else cares about someone walking in late. I know I wouldn’t care or judge. Everyone has different things going on in their lives.

And lastly, how can I not be late next time? Let’s be realistic: Being late was nobody’s fault but my own. I have to take responsibility for not sticking to my schedule; acknowledging it is my fault is confirming that I know I have control to change it. If I blame someone else for my problem of being late, I cannot change their actions (only my own), and thus take this mindset of helplessness. Nobody benefits from feeling helpless.

I started small with things like this traffic example, then applied it to other scenarios. Eventually, over time, I changed my entire personality simply by reframing how I reacted to challenges. I became less jaded and angry, depressive bouts disappeared, and my personal resilience increased. I can handle just about anything! So it’s actually a retraining of your brain, in a way. Your immediate reactions change, if you let it. I used to get angry very quickly and hold petty grudges. I no longer get angry and never hold grudges. It is freedom and release to reclaim the power OVER you (outside actions) and changing it to YOUR power (how you let it affect you). And the best part? It costs $0.