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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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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the top 6 benefits of having an open mind

Open mind

 

Even if you consider yourself a well-rounded, nonjudgmental person, being open-minded can be a challenge at times. When we’re young, we’re taught a set of beliefs and values and, throughout our lives, we tend to surround ourselves with people who share the same values and beliefs. This presents a challenge when we're faced with ideas that conflict with our own and, though we may wish to be open-minded, we may struggle with actually doing it from time to time.

Having strong beliefs can be a wonderful thing, and it’s important to stay true to your values, but having strong beliefs doesn't have to mean closing your mind to what others have to say. In fact, closing your mind to others’ beliefs is a sure sign that you don’t feel confident enough in your own. An open mind can mean standing firm on what you believe in, but also being willing to hear what others have to say. It means knowing what you value while appreciating what others value as well.

When your mind is open, you have the opportunity to reap many rewards ¾ new perspectives, new experiences, and even new friends. There is much to be gained from opening the door to your mind and letting new ideas and beliefs in. Here are just a few of the benefits you can experience when you choose open-mindedness:

 

FREEDOM FROM CONTROL

An open mind frees you from having to be in complete control of everything you experience. By allowing for new points of view and new experiences, you open yourself up to new thoughts, and you challenge the beliefs you currently have. While this might sound a bit unnerving (particularly if you feel very strongly about your beliefs), it’s actually quite liberating to experience the world with an open mind.

 

NEW, LIBERATING EXPERIENCES

Keeping your mind open to new ideas almost always keeps your heart open to new experiences. This doesn’t mean you’re going to engage in acts that counter your current beliefs, but it does mean you’re likely to experience things you’ve never encountered before, and these new experiences will either help shift your current beliefs or remind you why those values are so essential to who you are.

 

VALUABLE VULENRABILITY

Vulnerability sounds intimidating, but it’s actually one of the greatest things you can experience -- and it’s often the result of having an open mind. By opening your mind to the world around you (and others’ points of view), you’re admitting that there are possibilities you may not have considered before. This admission -- while terrifying at times -- is liberating and exhilarating.

 

FRESH MISTAKES

Mistakes probably sound like something you don’t want to have more of in your life, but they’re, in fact, a wonderful side effect of opening your mind. Striving to see life from others' perspectives allows you to not only recognize potential mistakes you’ve made in the past, but also to be open to the idea that you may make more mistakes in the future. Mistakes are part of life, and the acceptance of them is one of the greatest benefits of open-mindedness.

 

INNER STRENGTH

An open mind provides a platform on which you can build, piling new idea on top of old. It allows you to learn and experience new things, and these experiences can build on (and enhance) old believes. Every experience you have strengthens who you are and what you believe in, but it’s very difficult to experience novel things if you don’t keep an open mind.

 

STUNNING CONFIDENCE

Those who are open-minded have the greatest confidence. Why? Because they possess a strong sense of self. They are not confined by their own believes, but, instead, are open to their own values, as well as those of others. And the more open-minded they continue to be, the more they come to understand themselves and the world around them. If you want to be confident, stay open-minded.

 

Even with the knowledge of these brilliant benefits, keeping an open mind can be a challenge. For some, it comes as effortlessly as breathing. For others, it may be something they have to work hard to attain. This often has a lot to do with how you were raised (as well as what your personality type is), but regardless of your background or personal traits, don’t give up on open-minded thinking. There are so many advantages to living life with an open mind, and the effort it takes to cultivate open-mindedness will be well worth the rewards you will reap.

  

Finding-Self-Cover

Open-mindedness towards others starts with having an open mind toward yourself. If you're looking for some more soul-searching inspiration, check out the Finding Yourself workbook. Discover more about yourself, and uncover what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


5 reasons to nix the negativity in your life

Negativity-is-Boring
 

Note: I'm writing today's post in honor of my mom, whose birthday is tomorrow and who is one of the most positive people I know. Happy birthday, Mama Bear! I love you to the sky and back! 

 

Obviously I strive my hardest not to be negative and to remove negativity from my life, but even I can't deny that negativity is oddly alluring sometimes. Negativity can come in many forms -- from a critical thought about yourself to an energy-draining individual to something as seemingly harmless as a joke -- and it's not always as easy to identify (or resist!) as you might think.

Negativity is sneaky. It creeps up on you when you're feeling down; it tries its hardest to pull you away from the positive when you're feeling good. And sometimes it even comes in the form of disguise, such as some kinds of humor. (Just because it makes you laugh doesn't mean it's positive!) We all battle negativity (both internally and externally) from time to time, but one of the best ways I've found to combat that sneak little devil is to remind myself of why negativity does absolutely no good. 

We all know that, generally speaking, negativity is bad. We cannot control others' negativity or negative situations, but we can control our own negative thoughts and reactions. Of course, this is often easier said than done. To combat negative thinking, I've found that  that reflecting on why negativity is so unhealthy and unproductive actually helps me keep the negative thoughts at bay. When negative thoughts, people, or situations try to plague me, I reflect on these five important truths about negativity: 

  

NEGATIVITY IS BORING. 

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it's easier to be negative than to be positive. It's very tempting give into (and even embrace) negativity, particularly with so much negativity surrounding us in the media (and sometimes in other people). And particularly because other people will often join in on negative commentary. (Just think of how often you've heard someone at work moan, "How is it only Monday!?") Negativity it commonplace. It's boring. It's the easy thing to do -- whining about the bad weather or complaining that you're stressed -- and giving into it can feel like a quick fix. It gives you a little rush to vent or whine, but it negativity is so common that focusing it not only makes you less happy, but it also makes you incredibly average. You're better than average and you know it! 

 

NEGATIVITY IS UNATTRACTIVE. 

Though people do sometimes feed off one another's negativity, people (especially the kind you want to be around!) are also drawn to happy people. Positivity, while not the same as happiness, generally makes you happier and more enjoyable to be around. Think about this: would you rather be around someone who is grumpy and moping and complaining, or would you rather spend time with someone who is always looking for the good in a situation? You aren't attracted to negative people and positive people certainly won't be attracted to you if you're negative. It's cliche but true: you attract what you are. If you want to attract positivity, you have to be positive. 

 

NEGATIVITY IS POINTLESS. 

Much like that old saying worrying, negativity is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. (Erma Bombeck thought of this great analogy!) While it's fine to prepare unpleasant outcomes (i.e., backing up your computer files in the event that your computer dies), there's nothing to be gained from dwelling in negativity. For example, if your computer were to breakdown, it does no good to complain about it, moaning, "Everything always goes wrong! That thing was a complete waste of money!" What would do good is focusing on the positive (a chance to get a new computer or, if that's not possible, an opportunity to spend time with a friend while you borrow theirs). Positive thinking won't fix negative situations, but it will help you make the most of them. (Unlike negativity, which adds nothing of value to any situation!)

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIRING. 

Think about something that makes you happy. Now think about the last sad thing you saw. Which thought was more draining? Negativity is emotionally and physically draining. The more you do it, the more of a toll it takes on your mind and body. While it sometimes feels easier to go with the first thought that comes to mind ("ugh, it's raining again!"), the quick-fix negative thought will ultimately cause more harm than good, particularly if you start out with negativity as you begin your day. You invite one negative thought in and it takes it as an open invitation to bring all its friends ("it's rainy," "I'm so tired," "I have so much to do today," "I'll never get it all done," etc.) One negative thought can lead to another and before you know it, you are emotionally drained from thinking thoughts that make you upset, sad, or angry.

 

NEGATIVITY IS TIME-CONSUMING. 

Because negativity is so emotionally (and physically!) draining, it takes much more of our time than positivity does -- even if positive thoughts are sometimes more difficult to conjure up than negative ones. Also, if you allow yourself to think about what might go wrong in a situation, it's very likely your mind will wander to all of the other possible aspects of life in which something could go wrong. You'll then begin to worry about those scenarios and your mind won't be able to help trying to come up with solutions to those nonexistent problems. Before you know it, you'll have spend loads of time stressing out and analyzing a situation that might never happen! Negativity not only wastes time and emotional energy, but it also often causes you to live in the future, a place that is completely fictional!

 

Clearly there a lot of reasons not to be negative, but what do you do if you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts? One of the best tactics for preventing negativity from dominating your mind is simply being aware of your thoughts. Often we think without thinking (sounds weird, but consider how much you've thought about today without really thinking about it!). Thinking-without-thinking can cause your mind to dwell on certain (often negative) things. Pay attention to your thoughts and, without judging them, try to nudge them in a more positive direction. This will take time, effort, and practice so don't be hard on yourself if it's not easy to do. I still struggle with this all the time, and I write about positivity for a living! Whenever you're struggling to stay positive, try to remember the five reasons why negativity is so not worth it, and you'll find that it's just a bit easier to direct your thoughts in a more positive direction. 

 

 

Loving-Your-Self

Nixing negativity and focusing on the positive is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-LoveFilled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.


keep calm: 5 tips for preventing panic

Calm
 

As you may have read in previous posts, anxiety is something I struggle with from time to time. Sometimes it's not so bad -- just a bit of a tickling annoyance at the back of my mind -- and other times it's drive-me-mad frustrating, keeping me from doing things I want to do and preventing me from living the positive, present life I spend so much time writing about. There are a lot of unpleasant aspects of anxiety, but one of the worst parts is feeling panicky.

Even if you don't have anxiety on a regular basis, you've probably experienced panic at some point in your life -- those moments when your heart is pounding and your mind is racing with ideas (some completely irrational) about what's happening. It's not a pleasant experience and, even if there's something legitimate to feel panicked about, panicking never helps make a situation better. It only heightens anxious feelings and makes it more difficult to take positive, productive action.  

Once panicky feelings start, however, they can be tough to get control over, which is why it's important to try your best prevent the panic before it begins. Of course, sometimes this isn't possible, like if you're sudden, dangerous, actually-life-threatening situation. But, more often than not, things we panic about are a result of the way we're seeing a situation, and don't necessarily reflect what's actually happening.

Because tomorrow is the second annual International Day of Calm, I wanted to spend some time reflecting on how to keep calm on a regular basis. This way, if you are presented with a situation that makes you feel panicky, you'll be better equipped to cope with it. Here are five of my best tips for preventing panic...

(And stay tuned for two awesome keep-calm goodies mentioned at the end of the post!)

 

TRY TO FIND CALM DAILY. 

We usually hear the phrases "keep calm" or "calm down" only when there's already an anxiety-inducing situation right in front of us, but if you want to reduce panicky feelings in the future, it helps to practice calm on a daily basis. Creating calming routines for yourself (especially at the beginning and end of your day) can be really helpful. Also, taking advantage of calming resources: books like Calm or Stay Positive and apps like Calm are great places to start. Anything you can incorporate into your life on a daily basis to make you feel more peaceful will help add to your state of calm whenever you feel panicky. 

 

RECOGNIZE YOUR REACTIONS. 

When it comes to preventing full-blown panic, one essential step is to recognize how you're reacting to a situation so you can understand (and rein in) your emotions before they get to an irrational place. One of the best ways to do this is to pay close attention to your body. Is your heart beating faster? Are your palms sweaty? Are your muscles tensing? Is your breath coming more quickly? When you're aware of what's happening to you physically, you can put yourself in a better mindset to avoid panic. You can remove yourself from a situation or ask someone else to talk you through what you're experiencing. 

 

CENTER YOURSELF IN REALITY. 

One of the most vital steps for preventing panic is to ask yourself, What's actually happening? So much of panic is a result of what we think is going to happen, not what's factually right in front of us. For example, let's say you're going through a breakup. It's common to start in with panicky thoughts like, I'm going to be alone forever. Oh god, no one is going to date me now. I'm never going to find love again. Those thoughts are all based on the future -- and a very dismal future at that. In the present moment, the only thing that's happening is you're suffering from heartbreak, which you will recover from. Bring your focus to the present and it becomes much more difficult to launch into panic mode. 

 

ACCEPT WHAT'S HAPPENING. 

Part of panicking is detaching yourself from reality, allowing your mind to spiral into a maze of irrational thoughts. As unsettling as these thoughts are (usually of the all-or-nothing variety, like, Everything is ruined! No one will ever want me! Nothing will ever be the same!), we often use the panicky thoughts to distract ourselves from the real pain right in front of us: the heartache, the loss, the realization that we've done something wrong. It's hard to do, but acceptance of the actual situation is key for redirecting panic into a more productive outlet. Yes, you might have lost your job, but thinking, no one will ever hire me now is certainly not going to get you a new one. What will is accepting the loss and striving to move positively forward by taking action in the present (going to a job fair, applying for new jobs online, etc.). 

 

FIND A SELF-SOOTHING TECHNIQUE. 

Acceptance is hard, but once you do that, you're in a much better place to prevent panic. Still, it can creep up on you sometimes, like a stealthy little snake in the grass, and when that happens, it's a good idea to have a self-soothing technique that helps to take your mind to a calmer place. Your self-soothing technique can be anything from taking a few deep breaths to using a mantra (like "keep calm" or, my personal favorite, "you're okay") to calling up a calming friend for a quick chat. Whatever your calming weapon of choice, make sure it's something you can always have in your holster -- an easily accessible tool that you can whip out whenever you might feel a bit panic-stricken. 

 

*KEEP CALM GOODIES!* 

Calm-book-meta

For the second annual International Day of Calm (April 5, 2016), I've partnered with Calm, a popular meditation app and book, to provide you with some keep-calm goodies!

  1. Get 25% off a yearlong subscription to the Calm app by visiting Calm.com/PositivelyPresent.
  2. Pop on over to my Instagram account for details on how you can win a copy of Calm the book!  

 


PPGTL-Get-the-Book
Want to explore how to have even more calm in your life? Pick up your very own copy of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life. The book is all about how to stay positive and present in various areas of life including: at home, at work, in love, in relationships, and during change. I've turned back to it often this year as I've gone through major changes and it's been tremendously helpful. The book is filled with inspiring images that make it even easier to stay positive and present. You can learn more about the book and find out where to buy a copy here. (You can also get a sneak peek at the book, access a free download, and watch the book trailer!)