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6 self-love lessons from alice in wonderland (part II)


 Alice-Self-Love2
All images © Walt Disney Studios


As you might of seen last week, I wrote about two of my favorite topics: Alice in Wonderland and self-love! Today I'm catching you up with the second half of the amazing self-love lessons from Alice. If you haven't already, check out PART I for the first three lessons (and some background on Alice). 

  

Alice4

 

LESSON 4: AVOID NEGATIVE PEOPLE (AND FLOWERS!) 

Rose: Just what species or, shall we say, genus are you, my dear?
Alice: Well, I guess you would call me... genus, humanus... Alice.
Daisy: Ever see an alice with a blossom like that?
Orchid: Come to think of it, did you ever see an alice?
Daisy: Yes, and did you notice her petals? What a peculiar color.
Orchid: [sniffing Alice's hair] And no fragrance.
Daisy: [chuckling, as she lifts up one side of Alice's dress] And just look at those stems.
Rose: [as Alice slaps the Daisy's leaves away] Rather scrawny, I'd say... 


When Alice initially encounters a garden of talking flowers, they are polite, welcoming, and curious about her. As she spends time with them, however, they quickly turn judgmental, negative, and cruel. As soon as the flowers start poking and prodding her, judging her appearance and picking on her, Alice removes herself from the situation, quickly exiting the garden and murmuring, "You can learn a lot of things from the flowers! Huh! Seems to me they could learn a few things about manners!" She recognizes the flowers' rudeness and refuses to tolerate it -- and this isn't the only scene in which she leaves a negative situation or character. In fact, in many of the scenes in the film, Alice faces rudeness, nonsense, or bad behavior and, rather than tolerate it, Alice leaves. 

This is one of the most essential self-love lessons we can learn from Alice: if someone is treating you poorly or is bringing too much negativity into your life, get away from that person. Now, this is obviously not as easy as stomping out of a garden if you've been invested in this person or your relationship is very intertwined with other aspects of your life (like work or parenthood, for example), but if you want to truly treat yourself with love, you have to get away from those who don't treat you well. In addition, it's important to seek out positive people -- people who will encourage you, uplift you, and inspire you. The fewer negative people you have in your life, the more room you'll have for these positive influencers. 

 

Alice5

 

LESSON 5: DON'T FEEL PRESSURED TO DEFINE YOURSELF

Caterpillar: [meeting Alice] Who... 'R'... 'U'?
Alice: I- I hardly know, sir. I've changed so many times since this morning, you see...
Caterpillar: I do not 'C.' Explain yourself.
Alice: I'm afraid I can't explain myself, sir, because I'm not myself, you know.
Caterpillar: I do not know.
Alice: Well, I can't put it any more clearly, sir, for it isn't clear to me.

When Alice encounters the Caterpillar, one of the first things he does is ask her who she is (in quite a demanding and aggressive way, I might add!). If asked the same question, most of us would probably respond with our names, as we use those to identify ourselves to others. But what does it mean to be "[your name]"? Who are you really? How would you describe yourself to someone else? These are hard questions to answer -- and one of the reasons I created the Finding Your Self workbook! -- but they are important when it comes to self-love. It's difficult to love yourself, after all, if you don't know yourself. It's important to get to know yourself as best you can, but it's equally as important not to limit yourself with labels. 

Alice, because she's been through so much and changed physically in many ways since entering Wonderland, doesn't know how to answer the Caterpillar's question concerning who she is. She's changed a great deal, making it difficult for her to define herself. Like Alice, we also change a great deal over time. The person you are today isn't the person you were five years ago -- and that's actually a good thing. When we don't change, we don't grow. One of the reasons some people don't change much is because they often limit themselves to a definition of what they should be (or have been). While it's wonderful to have a sense of self and know who you are, this scene in Alice in Wonderland reminded me that it's also good not to limit yourself with internal or external expectations. It's okay not to know exactly who you are, to want to change, or to feel you have changed. It's okay not to be completely clear on who you are -- so long as you treat yourself with compassion and love. You don't have to fully understand yourself to treat yourself with understanding.

 

Alice6

 

LESSON 6: LISTEN TO YOUR OWN GOOD ADVICE

Alice: I give myself very good advice. But I very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I'm always in.

This last lessons is, what I believe to be, one of the most important. Toward the end of her time in Wonderland, Alice feels completely lost and uncertain about how to find her way home again. The path she was heading down literally disappeared and she's alone in the Tulgey Woods with no sense of which way to go. In this scene, Alice sings one of my favorite songs, "Very Good Advice," (watch the video here!) all about how she gives herself very good advice but very rarely follows it. You're probably well aware of how much easier it is to give good advice than it is to take it, but one of the greatest acts of self-love is giving yourself good advice -- if this is hard, imagine what you'd tell a friend in your situation -- and actually following it. 

More often than not, we know the right thing to do -- the thing that will ultimately make us happy and fulfilled -- but a lot of the time, the right choice isn't the easiest one to make, which is why we sometimes don't take our own advice. But consider, for a minute, what your life would be like if you did the right thing every time, if you made the choice you know someone who truly loves you would make for you. You can do that. You can be the person that loves you enough to push you in a positive direction -- even if it's hard to do so in the moment. The next time you're faced with a tough choice, try to take your own good advice and see what happens. Challenging as it might be, it's a brave and worthwhile act of self-love.

 

I hope you've enjoyed these inspiring self-love lessons from Alice in Wonderland. If you haven't seen or read Alice in awhile and you want to check it out, here are some of my favorite Alice-related things:
 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (original 1865 edition)

Through the Looking Glass (original 1872 edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Rifle Paper Co. illustrated edition)

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (Little Golden Book edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Salvador Dali illustrated edition)

Disney Alice in Wonderland score (the weird, wonderful soundtrack!)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Yayoi Kusama illustrated edition)

The Annotated Alice (annotated and illustrated edition)

Alice in Wonderland (1951 animated film)

Alice in Wonderland (2010 live-action film)

 

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positively present picks : may 27, 2016


Choose Love Over Fear
 

Quote-of-the-week

“When you love someone, you love the whole person,
just as he or she is, and not as you would like them to be.”

Leo Tolstoy
 

Links-I-Love   
Love Yourself! : stay inspired with these little motivators

Life Lessons from a Dandelion : beautifully written piece

A Happy Ending : my mom bought me this and I'm obsessed 

12 Inspiring Mindfulness Quotes : a great source of inspiration

I Am Not My Past : three steps to freeing yourself from the past

Disney's Alice in Wonderland Cinestory : treated myself to this :)

Letting Go of What We Want : it allows us to get what we need

Floral Collage Art : how inspiring are these beautiful collages? 

7 Ways to Declutter Your Life : and improve your focus, too

How Mindfulness Overcomes Stress and Anxiety : it's so powerful!

Why It's Okay to Feel Lost : and how to find your way again

8 Things Truly Authentic People Do : how to stay true to yourself

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Stop Desire" — Tegan and Sara
"Vagabond" — Richard J Aarden
"Hurricane Love" — L.A. Women
"Heart Afire" — Defqwop
"Promises" — Tristan Beer
"Breathe"— Fleurie
"Burn" — The Temper Trap
"Thread" — Retro Culture
"I Can Make a Mess" — Thin White Line
"Free" — Broods

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

The Hopefuls
Jennifer Close

Alice in Wonderland Cinestory
Lewis Carroll & Disney

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling
  

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro


6 self-love lessons from alice in wonderland (part I)

 

Alice-Self-Love
All images © Walt Disney Studios
  

I'm a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland -- the book, the films, and especially the 1951 Disney film. I've written about it quite a few times  Wonderland Wisdom: 8 Life Lessons from Alice, How to Reclaim Your Muchness, Revisiting Your Muchness: 5 Steps to Reclaim Who You Were), and it was even the reason I published The Positively Present Guide to Life! (My publisher originally discovered my site via one of my Alice articles. So awesome!) Not only did my love for Alice enhance my career, but it's also had a pretty important impact on the way I think about life. (As have many other Disney films -- fun fact: I wrote my graduate school thesis on Disney films!)

With the release of the new Disney film, Through the Looking Glass, I've been planning to write another Alice-themed article for months. And, after recently releasing my self-love stickers, I've had a love of self-love on the brain so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find any good self-love lessons in Alice's adventures. I was pleasantly surprised to find tons of them, but I narrowed it down to the top six. Here are some of the best bits of wisdom from Alice's tumble down the rabbit hole.

(Note: these are all from the Disney film, which varies a bit from the original book. If you haven't seen the film or aren't familiar with the story, the general idea is this: Alice, a restless young girl, falls down a rabbit hole and enters a magical world. There she encounters an odd assortment of characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar, and a garden of talking flowers. The tale focuses on Alice's adventures in Wonderland and, ultimately, on her quest to find her way home. If you're interested in reading/watching Alice, check the end of the post for links to my favorite Alice-related works!)

 

  Alice1

 

LESSON 1: BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO IMAGINE WANT YOU WANT

Alice: If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn't be, and what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?


At the beginning of the film, Alice sits with her cat, Dinah, musing about what it would be like if she had a world of her own. She's restless and bored with her school lessons and longs for a world with more fancifulness and magic, a world in which things would be very different from how they are in the real world. How many of us have had a moment like Alice's, where we sat imagining how things could be different? While we might not have daydreamed about talking flowers or cats wearing trousers (but, let's be serious, clothed cats sounds pretty adorable...), we've imagined how we might want things to be different. And, believe it or not, this is actually an act of self-love. Yes, self-love does involve acceptance and staying in the present moment, but it also includes envisioning what we'd like for ourselves in the future -- what an ideal life would look like. Imagining a life we want to lead is actually a very brave act because it means facing the fact that things aren't always perfect and, if we'd like to be fulfilled and happy, we might actually have to make some changes (gulp!).

A great lesson we can all take from Alice is embracing our imaginations, considering what an ideal world would look like for us -- and, most importantly, going after it. While I wouldn't recommend following a rabbit down a rabbit hole, as Alice did, it's interesting to consider how Alice's daydream turned into a reality when she took action. Also worth noting is that not everything Alice envisioned turned out to be how she imagined it would be (See Lesson 4!). So, while it's important to tap into your imagination, envision what you'd like your world to look like, and take action toward your goals, it's also a good idea to recognize that things won't always turn out how you imagined (or, if they do, they might not be as fulfilling as you would have thought). This idea isn't meant to discourage you from pursuing your dreams, but to inspire you to find a balance between bravely envisioning the future and realizing that the future, however it arrives, will require acceptance. 

 

Alice2

 

LESSON 2: TRY TO MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Alice: Well, after this I should think nothing of falling down stairs.

Maintaining a positive attitude when the world around you feels crazy is quite challenging, but Alice is one of the best examples of someone who faces strange and unusual adversity while remaining optimistic and hopeful. Can you imagine tumbling down a rabbit hole, through a seemingly endless tunnel filled with furniture and knickknacks and books and thinking to yourself, "After this, I should think nothing of falling down stairs!" I don't know about you, but I'd probably be screaming, eyes shut, and thinking to myself, "I'm going to die when I hit the ground. This is the end. Oh my god. Oh my god." Not Alice though! She's not only completely trusting that she'll land on her feet (despite never having fallen down a rabbit hole before!), but she's also thinking about how this strange experience will help her stay positive the next time she goes through something less challenging: falling down the stairs. (The fact that she has this idea at all is a bit concerning though. I mean, how often does she fall down stairs?!)

In this scene, and countless others in the film, Alice is faced with adversity and strangeness. Rather than get upset, frustrated, or angry, she generally tries to see the good in the situation and take a positive stance on whatever she's experiencing. She notes something positive in the present moment or, as she does in this particular scene, she takes note of how she could use her current experience to stay positive in the future. While she does have moments where characters or situations test her patience, throughout the film she generally remains hopeful and optimistic -- in spite of having just fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange land where nothing makes sense! The next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, try to imagine how Alice would look at it. How would Alice view the difficult coworkers you have to cope with? How would she cope with the nonsensical aggression of a driver on the road? Though we don't live in Wonderland, a lot of what we encounter in everyday life can seem confusing and frustrating. When tough situations (or people!) come your way, ask yourself, "How would Alice find the good in this?" Because, when it comes down to it, positivity is an act of self-love. 

 

Alice3
 

LESSON 3: BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR CONSUMPTION

Alice: Better look first, for if one drinks much from a bottle marked "Poison," it's almost certain to disagree with you sooner or later.

After arriving in Wonderland, Alice is encouraged by the Doorknob to drink from a bottle. Though Alice is only a young girl, she paused before taking a sip, reciting the quote above. What inspired me about this scene is Alice's mindfulness about what she's consuming. When it comes to our bodies and minds, we often have control about what we consume -- and what we consume can have a big impact on how we feel, think, and act. Whether we're talking about the food we eat, the substances we intake, or the media we watch/read, everything we consume contributes to the way we feel about ourselves. Though Alice probably isn't aware of this when making this statement, the words "better look first" are powerful when it comes to self-love. 

Before you consume something -- eat a meal, uncork a bottle, swallow a pill, pull up a website, open a book, turn on the TV, or make a purchase -- think about how it will make you feel. Will you feel better after you consume it? Will it make you happier, more fulfilled, more successful, more at peace? And, for how long will it do that? Some things make us feel really good in the moment, but terrible later. While I'm all about staying present, sometimes you have to consider how you present consumption will impact your future emotional state. Taking a moment to pause before consuming and consider the consequences can lead to more positive choices and more self-loving acts.

 

Clearly, Alice knows a lot about self-love! I bet you had no idea you could learn so many great self-love tips from a Disney character, did you? The best tips are still to come. Stay tuned for PART II next week! And, if you haven't seen / read Alice in awhile and want to check it out, here are some of my favorite Alice-related things:
 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (original 1865 edition)

Through the Looking Glass (original 1872 edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Rifle Paper Co. illustrated edition)

Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland (Little Golden Book edition)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Salvador Dali illustrated edition)

Disney Alice in Wonderland score (the weird, wonderful soundtrack!)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Yayoi Kusama illustrated edition)

The Annotated Alice (annotated and illustrated edition)

Alice in Wonderland (1951 animated film)

Alice in Wonderland (2010 live-action film)

 

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positively present picks: may 20, 2016


TrustYourself
Image via Buzzfeed on Snapchat (Follow me @positivepresent!)

 

Quote-of-the-week

“If you do not change direction,
you may end up where you are heading.” 

Lao Tzu
 

Links-I-Love   
Self-Love Stickers!! : so happy about the response on these! get yours here

6 Experts on True Happiness : honored to be considered an expert! ;) 

Good Vibes Tank : absolutely love this shirt from newly-launched Oui Fresh

Dating Troubles? : here's why you might not have met the one yet

This Moment is Enough : how to deal with feelings of not-enoughness

5 Ways to Stop Overthinking : so you can make good, quick decisions

The Honest Kitchen : sent me a ton of dog treats + Barkley lovvves them 

Top 50 Inspiration Blogs : also so honored to be on this list :)

Celebrate More : guess what? you're not celebrating enough

How to Silence Your Inner Critic : less negativity, more self-love

Is Staying In the New Going Out? : very interesting NYT article

Amazon Handmade : had no idea Amazon sold handmade things. cool! 

10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Right Now : love #2 especially

The Face Everything Technique : hard to do, but so worth it 

 

Listening

Listen to this playlist on YouTube.

"Can't Stop the Feeling" — Justin Timberlake
"Next Escape" — Viceroy
"U-Turn" —Tegan and Sara
"Hurt Me" — Lapsley
"Moon" — Beth Orton
"Swimming Pool"— Emmy the Great
"Magic" — Paperwhite
"Never Know" — Golden Vessel
"Talking to the Sun" — CRISTALLIN
"Yearning & Calling" — 4am

 

Reading

Check out my reading list on GoodReads.
 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
J.K. Rowling

It Didn't Start with You:
How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are
and How to End the Cycle

Mark Wolynn
  

I write books too! Check it out...

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

Stay Positive: Daily Reminders
from Positively Present
Dani DiPirro


what do you need to unlearn? : 5 steps to get started

Transformation

 

A little while back, Leann Rimes posted this Richard Rohr quote on her Instagram account: "Transformation is often more about unlearning than learning," and, as I was scrolling through my feed, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I love learning and I spend a great deal of my time, especially here on Positively Present, trying to learn more about myself and the world. But I rarely think about unlearning something -- and, now that I'm pondering it, it seems like it could be just as important as learning! Unlearning really is the key to transformation, to making those big changes in your life that can help you feel more positive and present. 

We all have things we'd be better off unlearning -- bad habits, negative thinking patterns, etc. -- but, as you might already know, unlearning is actually much more challenging than learning. Instead of simply absorbing new information, you have to remove what you already know (or change the way you think about it) and that's hard. Especially if it's been something you've been doing or thinking for years and years. 

I've outlined some steps below for how to tackle the tricky art of unlearning. I'm definitely going to be putting these steps to use myself on some behaviors that I'd like to change, and I hope you'll do the same. True transformation happens when you let go of what you no longer need, allowing space in your life for more positive, empowering habits, mindsets, and experiences! 

 

STEP 1: COMMIT TO THE UNLEARNING PROCESS 

First, you've got to identify what you want to unlearn. What habits do you wish you didn't have? What behaviors would you love to change? What people / situations would you rather not be around? Knowing what needs to change can be challenging if you've been engaging in a behavior or way of thinking for years and years. Sometimes we're so used to doing or thinking something that it doesn't even occur to us to change it. But pause for a minute and look at the question below. What's the very first thing that comes to your mind? That's the thing you really want to unlearn -- and that's what you need to fully commit to undoing. If you don't fully commit to the unlearning process, trust me, it'll never work. 

Unlearn

 

STEP 2: DETERMINE WHY YOU WANT TO UNLEARN IT

This step goes hand-in-hand with Step 1, and it's equally as important. True growth and unlearning can only happen if you're fully committed -- and to be fully committed, you have to dig deep to answer the question: Why do I want to unlearn this? When you get to the "why," you'll have a motivating factor to keep you going when the unlearning gets hard. For example, let's say you want to unlearn negative thinking patterns related to body image. The reasons why you might want to do this could include: to feel better about yourself, to cultivate more self-love, to become a better role model for your children or friends, to be more a peace with who you are, etc. When you have that "why" question answered, you'll be able to come back to that whenever you struggle with unlearning and encourage yourself. You might even want to post this up somewhere so you can continue to feel inspired: I WANT TO UNLEARN _________________ SO THAT I CAN FEEL / EXPERIENCE / BE _________________.

 

STEP 3: START WITH SMALL STEPS

One of the most difficult parts of unlearning -- or even learning! -- can be feeling so overwhelmed by a large, perhaps emotionally draining, task. The best way to handle feelings of overwhelm is to break down the problem into small steps. Make a list of small things you can do to move forward in the unlearning process. Unlearning things is hard work, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen overnight. The best way to make lasting progress is actually to start slow and keep moving forward at a gradual pace. Spend some time right now listing out ways that you might be able to start unlearning right now. For example, some steps to unlearn a habit of smoking might include: research how others have quit smoking, buy an anti-smoking patch, ask friends and family to hold you accountable, find a healthy habit to replace the bad one, etc. 



STEP 4: FIGURE OUT WHAT TRIGGERS YOU

Once you're making small, positive steps in the right direction, it's time to identify what triggers you to engage in what you're trying to unlearn. While you're going about your day, pay attention to what makes you want to return to what you're trying to change. Do certain situations make you feel more anxious and lead you to negative thinking? Do certain people make you want to take up a habit you're trying to quit? Do you find yourself reacting when faced with certain emotions? Paying attention to what triggers you to behave or think a particular way is crucial for making positive unlearning progress. Once you're aware of these triggers, you can either avoid them completely or figure out ways to cope in those situations so you're less likely to return to old habits or patterns. 

 

STEP 5: REWARD YOURSELF FOR POSITIVE PROGRESS 

One of the most positive things you can do for yourself when trying to unlearn something is offer yourself rewards whenever you make positive progress. Every time you resist doing that which you wish not to do, treat yourself. A treat might be something as simple as looking in the mirror and saying, "Good job, not doing X! You should be proud!" or it could be something like treating yourself to a new book, taking a day off from work to go to the spa, or planning a vacation. Whatever works as a reward for you, use it to reinforce your own positive behavior. Unlearning stuff is hard work and you deserve recognition! 

 

The act of unlearning won't come easily, but that doesn't mean the effort isn't worth it. As the quote above says, I really do believe that so much growth and transformation can come not just from learning new things, but from riding our lives of the things, habits, mindsets, and people that are no longer working for us. In many cases, unlearning needs to happen because these things are bringing negativity into our lives, but in some cases, it needs to happen simply because we have outgrown these elements. Whatever the reason, unlearning can have a powerful (and positive!) impact on your life, and I highly recommend giving these five steps a try to get started on transformation. 

 

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