Choose Another Thought

“I’m a mess.”

“I overthink everything.”

“I suck.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m so afraid.”

“I’m not good enough.”

Oh, the things we tell ourselves. How dangerous. How unkind. I couldn’t bear it if my own friend uttered these words to me on a daily basis. And yet, there are more of us participating in this form of self-bashing than you know.

In the 11 years that I had battled with depression, the repertoire of self-loathing, self-destructive things I have hurled my way (and then believed that others shared the same ideas about me) has consisted all of the above, and much more, much worse. Oh yeah, I was quite the virtuoso at it. This is not a story about depression. But I wanted to tell you that one of the most important lessons I have learned on that journey is the power of thought, of choice, of words. It saved my life. Dramatic, but true.

The moment my awareness was switched on, the instant I made a decision to choose a different thought, then different words, slowly, but surely, my whole narrative changed. As did my life because my actions and my external world began to fall into alignment with my inner world. And that is it — we need to awaken to the reality that life is but a series of decisions, choices and actions. It doesn’t happen overnight. It certainly did not for me. But we’ve got to start somewhere if you want your life to go anywhere. So start with a positive thought.

It wasn’t immediately clear to me what the topic for our third and most recent PowWoW* would be. It took me a little longer to get there this time, but it came to me serendipitously, and at precisely the right time, in the form of Oprah (I mean, who else, right?). I was re-listening to a goop podcast one morning, and Gwyneth and Oprah are going full-throttle on spirituality, living our best life and all things goop-y. And then Oprah said it. “You can choose another thought”.

Just like that, I knew.

"We all carry scars, inside or out."

 

So, last Friday, together with our partners, The Mindful Company and Poptsie Paper Co, who are believers and advocates of the power of words — we gathered a few of our friends and readers at the cosy new atelier of Ask A French Flowers to embark on a new journey — one that will have us re-writing our narratives, literally.

The evening kicked off with a calligraphy session with Poptsie Paper Co’s founder, Trudy. The idea for this exercise is to have our guests write out the negative thoughts that loop in their head like a bad soundtrack on repeat (those you read at the beginning of this story are a few examples). I believe that when you write out your negative thoughts, you take control and repossess power over them, and you release them. When you write down positive ones, you send them out into the universe to be manifested. More importantly, to be taken seriously, by you.

“Today, I am enough.” 

“I can’t do that, but I’m really good at this.”

“I am a work in progress.”

“I deserve the good things that happen to me.”

“Yes, I care too much, feel too deeply. That’s my superpower.”

I never really know what to expect of each PowWoW, but each one proves there is magic in life when you open your eyes and heart to it. It also reinforces what I suspected all along — that when you dare and are willing to acknowledge your vulnerability, express it, and share your story, not only will you gain strength from it, and even find some answers, but you also empower another.

Below, we have compiled a few pearls of wisdom that emerged from our conversation. Although you might not have been there with us, we hope these will serve as a source of inspiration, and a reminder that you’re not alone, that you always have a choice.

*PowWoW is conversation series-slash- get-together we launched in April as an extension of the website to encourage people, mostly women, to talk about the hard stuff. We are all struggling with something — heartbreak, disappointment, self-doubt, illness, loss, pain — but we don’t have to suffer alone. Talking about it, knowing that someone out there knows what you are going through can make a difference. We hope that sharing these stories and the lessons we have learned can empower both the self and others in a similar plight. Is there a topic you would like us to discuss? Email us at wow@wearohwhere.com. To steal a line from Frasier Crane, we’re listening.

1.

“Embrace those bad feelings. You can tell yourself, ‘Ok, I’m feeling shitty, and I’m going to have a good cry, but I’m not going to let it take over me.’”

2.

“I was brought up in a way that if I came home with a test score of 92, my parents would always go, ‘What happened to the eight marks?’ And I think I’ve lived with that stress of looking for those eight marks my entire life. Choosing another thought, to me, is about realising that I am enough as I am. I am enough. I found peace in that.”

3.

“For me, it was about recognising that my journey is my own. Things will happen, you’re still going to be upset, but it’s okay to not be okay. Your journey may not look like the other person’s journey, and it’s okay.”

4.

“The turning point, for me, was when I stopped telling myself that I’m the victim. It didn’t happen overnight, but when I finally did, it was the most powerful, life-changing thing to switch my mindset from ‘victim’ to, as Oprah says, ‘the captain of my ship, the master of my fate’.”

5.

“We often say ‘mind over matter’, but actually, ‘matter over mind’ is better. This means if you’re feeling lousy, you drag yourself out for a run, do something. Once you do that, your mind follows even if you didn’t feel like it. Just go and put on some make-up, then wear your nicest lingerie, dress up, and instantly, you’ll feel better. One step at a time. Don’t ever tell yourself, ‘I’m going to get out of this funk’ — that’s too big of a step.”

6.

“Actually, The person who taught me this was Beyoncé. You’d think that Beyoncé would be the most confident person alive, but that’s exactly what she said: ‘On a bad day, get out of bed and put some make-up on, and get out’.”

7.

“I am always saying to myself, ‘I’m a mess, I always mess everything up.’ I compare myself to my husband — I see how he always does everything right. But he made me realise that while he can do all those things well, there are also many things he can’t do that I can. That was huge for me.”

8.

“I used to get really upset when didn’t get the results I wanted, but I am where I am because of it. Now, I’m so grateful that I messed up at that time. And every time I think something is going wrong, or not happening the way I want, I tell myself that it’s going to lead me somewhere better. The shadow proves the sunshine — every time you thought you couldn’t make it out, you made it out anyway.”

9.

“Feeling too much, caring too much — that’s my super power.”

10.

“Say ‘thank you’ to the things that happened to you, because they were meant to happen. It is a part of your story, and it shaped you into who you are today. Embrace it, share your stories, and help others around you.”

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