The Inner Workings of One's Self

What does your inner self look like? How’s the state of your mind? Is it a fertile and lush environment where things can grow easily or is it a barren wasteland? How’s your heart? Is it overflowing with springs of joy and positivity or is it an arctic tundra? I’m consistently learning that I have to care for myself and, with the help of the tribe, I am consistently reminded of how to be my best self. And it comes through a daily decision to choose gratefulness over hatefulness.

Growing up, hate was simply not tolerated. Saying you hated something was not allowed and saying you hate someone meant an instant punishment! If you said the unacceptable word, you might as well hand over all your electronics and possibly prepare yourself for the spanking of the century, there was a zero-tolerance policy for hatred. Now, as an adult, I get it, but I still have some questions: is hating something that big of a deal? Is saying it so flippantly really bad? Honestly, what is the deal with hate?

 Well, here is what I found: 

According to Merriam Webster, hate is "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury”. 

When I read that, my mental wheels began to turn: could it be true that saying such bold words could produce intense feelings and have an actual physical effect on the body? Naturally I would say yes, but I needed more concrete evidence. 

 The Journal of Advancement in Medicine conducted a study in which they found "the need for effective management of the long term immunosuppressive effects of negative emotions as well as the immunoenhancing effects of positive emotions.” And in more understandable language; positive emotions contribute to our overall well being, negative emotions counteract our health. Research also shows that even one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours. Prolonged bouts of anger can take their toll on the body in the form of high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, headaches, and poor circulation. For reference sake, check out this enlightening chart on emotional pain.

My hope in writing this is not to expose the subpar parts of our lives, but to empower you to be even more amazing than you already are. 

The truth is, we all need to allow ourselves to process emotionally. Holding onto anger, fear, resentment, disappointment, and more can do significant damage to our health. So the question must be asked: what is the point of eating healthy and exercising if we can’t or won't let go of our emotional pain? You are made to be well and to live well, to be prosperous in mind, body, and spirit. And, for me, being grateful is a courageous and vital part of living well.

So, how do we actively move into living a life of more gratitude and less attitude?

Below are some things I have done to help get myself well and my hope is that these will help all of us release what we must and keep what need. So here we go:

Have deliberate moments of reflection- I put it on my calendar. I block out 30 minutes (though sometimes it ends up being more like 45) and I stop what I am doing, close my laptop, turn on instrumental music, and reflect. I keep a notebook handy just in case, but this time is for one thing: reflection. I reflect on what I am grateful for and remind myself of the importance of a grateful attitude. I think on the people in my life: the ones who are easy to deal with and the ones who are hard to deal with. Why both? Because the more difficult people help me to grow in character. 

Mental health days- THESE DAYS ARE SOME OF THE BEST DAYS. Most times these are “me" days and I spend time alone. Yes, I said it, ALONE! This ambassador of tribe also needs her space. The goal of these day are to do things that make me feel great. What I do always varies: a day outside reading a book, getting a manicure and pedicure, or getting a Starbucks and going to the airport to watch the planes take off and land are some of my favorites. Mental health days are about YOU, these are the days you get to choose everything and anything!

Exercise- I love to RUN!!! I prefer cardio over any other form of exercise. When I am anxious or aggravated or just want to escape, I know it’s time to run it out! It works to curb those feeling nearly every time. And strangely enough, when I am dealing with migraines due to poor food choices or stress, running steadfastly is the antidote. 

I guard what I see, hear, and say- this one is something I am constantly working at. In a culture where everything is accessible and the morality scale is a sliding one, I must stay conscious to the things that give me life and the things that don’t. There is that age old saying “you get out what you put in” well, that’s very true for me in this area. So I stay aware of what I listen to, what I watch, and what I say. Accuracy and truth are majorly important to me so I am always asking myself "will this help me and add to my life?" If the answer is no, then I do my best to stay away.

Serve others- This is the best way to get honest with myself. I like to call it "having a sober self-assessment". SERVE OTHERS, whether that looks like doing something in the community through your city officials or with your religious organization, helping a neighbor, or partnering with a local non-profit and volunteering. There a TON of ways to serve, so just get out there and do it! Giving to others is one of the best cures for selfishness. 

I encourage you, to start where you are. Maybe integrate one of the practices I suggested above, or do something that fits your life better. I simply say, start. And if you already live in such a way that practices gratitude and makes a way for you to process, BRAVO! Whether you’re a pro at this or just getting started, let’s side aside some time this week for some self-care and a gratitude check! It’s amazing how one small positive step can make a major impact! 

Thank you for Reading.

See you next Tuesday!



Carrie AlfordComment