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anxiety

reframing thoughts
Coming Back to a Reframing 768 1024 samantha

Coming Back to a Reframing

Much of this year has been about a reframing of things. A reframing of our thoughts. A reframing of our vision of what we thought this year would look like. A reframing of how we look at everything we’ve gone through in this tumultuous year, and even in our lives.

reframing thoughtsGetting outdoors has been so freeing for me this year. It has filled my cup up more than I know how to express. Being in nature always allows me to pause, to breathe in the little things, to acknowledge life as it is in that moment, and even sometimes to shift my perspective. In those moments when I’m away from the busy routines of everyday life, it feels like a coming home to what really matters most in life. I will look back on this year and know for me it was the year I said yes to every outdoor adventure opportunity that came my way. Next month I officially get my scuba diving license and I was almost convinced to go skydiving. Almost.

Last month I went to Big Sur and camped on a ridge 45 minutes up a mountain, high above the cloud cover. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and I enjoyed every second of that trip. I had been talking about going to Big Sur for years now, and as a California native, I truly have no explanation for why I hadn’t been yet. It was so nice not to have service, to completely disconnect. To make new friends with strangers. To watch the most memorable sunset and have the best sleep in a tent I’ve ever had. I remember we were watching the sunset amongst strangers and everyone was so grateful to be there witnessing nature do her thing. I felt so grateful for life in those moments and so unencumbered by anything else.

But the everyday-ness of our lives sometimes still find ways to seep in during those moments of isolated clarity. Somehow a text from my boss had gotten through the no-service zone. My brain automatically went into stress mode, thinking about anything that might need my attention at work. I didn’t even bring my laptop in the car so that I could properly disconnect. Did I accidentally cause myself more stress by so intentionally disconnecting? By not tuning in to any of my responsibilities on this trip, would it be worse come Monday? Was disconnecting and relaxing actually just avoiding the reality of work and life? But just as quickly as the stress came on, I came back to something so relevant for me this year. A reframing.

Something someone taught me this year that’s been so transformative is how to reframe our thoughts. Instead of me looking at reframing thoughtsmy weekend away as me “disconnecting at first, but only for things to be so hectic come Monday,” I reframed it to: this rest is necessary for me to go back to work fully charged and with energy to begin again.

When I can feel my energy shift, feel the future-stressing creep in, feel that some anxiety is coming on, this reframing perspective has changed the way I look at things. It’s about asking myself: how else can I think about xyz, that still rings true for me?

Reframing is a tool though, not a crutch. And reframing isn’t supposed to take the place of a gut reaction to something you know doesn’t align with your highest good. I can reframe some things that have happened to me this year as necessary for my growth and necessary to level up, instead of a waste of time. Recognizing the positive shift from a negative thought that doesn’t really serve me to a more appropriate thought that feels forward moving is powerful. It’s amazing what you can train your brain to do. But I try to be mindful of that power of shifting thoughts vs. not listening my gut feeling of: this (fill in the blank) really doesn’t feel good to me, but it’s necessary to listen to that gut feeling.

Like I said back in March, life is FOR you. So if I can find a way to reframe things that align with me and that make me feel good, that’s exactly what I’ll do to give it my best efforts to stay present and peaceful.

Your Focus Creates Your Feeling 681 1024 samantha

Your Focus Creates Your Feeling

I am someone who fully believes that change and growth is needed to continue to be the best version of yourself, but change can still be a hard thing sometimes. When things are going good in your life and you have a nice routine going, who really wants change?

I’ve struggled with anxiety for a few years now and only within this past year have I truly started to understand how my thinking can change my emotional world.

My anxiety really started in college. It’s not that any single decision I made or new experience I was going through was particularly bad, but it started when I was hit with the realization that for once, I wasn’t completely sure what path I was taking or what was ahead. I stressed HARD on the what-ifs, lost sleep on whether I was making the right life decisions, and my body was physically struggling to keep up with me. When I felt riddled with anxiety, it’s like my mind hyper-focuses on all the negatives. For a little while it feels like things are just not going to get better. No, it’s not like over-thinking something. With anxiety, it feels like being thrown into a panic to try to solve a Rubik’s cube, only the harder you try to solve it, the worse it becomes.

I took time to sit and get honest with myself (and through too many phone calls with my personal on-call 24/7 therapist: my mom). What I’ve learned this year that truly has changed my way of thinking is this: my focus creates my feeling. Whatever holds our attention, molds our intention.  

It might sound so obvious, but for the most part we can control our thoughts. (This is of course with respect to any mental illness that simply doesn’t allow that). It’s crazy when I stop to think that I have the ability to stop myself when I’m sitting there thinking of all the possible things that can go wrong. When life seems to come to a halt and a dark cloud lingers over and all we can do is replay a little movie in our head with something negative or bad, we have the ability to think: ‘No. I’m not going to think that way. Instead, I’m going to dwell on all the positive outcomes that could happen and be grateful for all the good things in my life.’ My focus creates my feeling.

When I feel such anxiety over the what-ifs or play negative conversations or situations in my head that couldhappen, I realize I have the power to change that. I can immediately stop and tell my mind: ‘you’re better than that.’ Sometimes when I have anxiety, I truly couldn’t even tell you why. This sinking feeling hits me and I’m hard pressed to figure out what the heck is going on. But instead of feeling like I’m sinking, I actively tell myself to change my thoughts.

I stumbled across this verse from Philippians 4:8. Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, this is a sweet little reminder to dwell on the positive things when you’re feeling low.

“Fix your thoughts on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

 This is no easy task, though. It’s hard to block out the negative downward spiral when anxiety hits, and even harder to convince yourself to start dwelling on the positives. But through trial and error I’ve found that if I can tell myself, “you are okay, right here, right now,” I can usually lead myself to think about the positive things happening in my day or my life. That switch from worry and fear to gratitude may not solve everything 100%, but it leads me back to the present.



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