Mindful Advice to My Younger Self
Adding a narrative to sad experiences in the past is a powerful mindfulness practice that can help with issues currently manifesting in your life.
Paying attention to your present struggles by identifying how they are preventing you from progressing is often where we stop. However, going the extra step by recalling past moments of sadness that never had words to complement the impact of them could have a long-lasting positive result.
You might have been too young at the time to put words to it, extremely distracted, or surrounded by people who you felt were not interested in the story — so you kept it suppressed.
Research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our sense of contentment.
Benefits of Mindfulness:
Mindfulness is a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait.
- Stress reduction
- Boosts to working memory
- Less emotional reactivity
- More cognitive flexibility
- Relationship satisfaction
Advice for my younger self:
Here is the advice I would give to my younger self about sad times that have a current impact.
Past sadness: Losing my best friend to illness in the 2nd grade, seeing another friend’s father beat her mother unconscious while we sit frozen with fear when I was in 3rd grade, watching a friend get murdered on the street on their bike shortly after, then moving to a new neighborhood and losing all my friends to start over with kids who were not like me framed my childhood exposure to friendships.
Present Challenge: Keeping the sad feelings bottled up and not letting people too close because of the fear of loss prevents me from making new friends which rob me from experience.
Advice: Expressing your feelings with more words and making more close connections helps other people understand that the frown on your face is actually a mask for fear. Let them in and let them go when it’s time. Fear is not necessary-Nothing is ever truly lost, just experiences gained.
Past sadness: Being disappointed by people with empty promises and fake relationships is a hard lesson. It shows up so many times and hurts when the truth surfaces.
Present Challenge: The feedback and directions from people are full of their self-motivation and stained with their own personal experiences.
Advice: Choose the direction you feel is right — put all trust in yourself. Your intuition will lead you towards the best place for you. Meditation helps with this. When you become more authentic and try less to impress or satisfy leadership/colleagues you’ll be surprised by how successful you’ll become. People feel the energy, make them remember how good they feel working with you and you’ll go further than ever imagined.
Past sadness: Not writing because I was focused on my career or not doing good at work because I was focused on a garden project made me feel unfulfilled as a person.
Present Challenge: Ignoring the feelings and being put into one box does not work for me.
Advice: You are a writer, yarn artist, farmer, and a businesswoman. There might be more skills hidden in there that will show up over time. Neglecting one will make you feel like something is missing. It is possible to do all, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. Those who love you will support it all. You won’t have time to notice the ones who don’t, keep going. Keep jumping into things that make your heart sing because once you open up — that energy continues to manifest more of the things that make you happy.
In the movie Inside Out, star-shaped Joy gets more screen time. But when the emotions are in danger of getting lost in the endless corridors of long-term memory, it is Sadness, downcast and shaped like a blue teardrop, who emerges as an unlikely heroine. Take a moment and think about a sad time that never was honored with a narrative and give it a story. Your most powerful lesson could be revealed — taking you to a better state of being.
Originally published at www.citybornsouthernliving.com on May 31, 2017.