Skip to main content

PMA All Day!

Try this. Tomorrow when you wake up, (after coffee of course) look yourself in the mirror and say the following things: "I am smart, beautiful and talented. I can do anything I put my mind to. Today is going to be a fabulous day!"


If you are anything like me you are probably laughing right about now. I know that Self Help writers and psychotherapists have made millions off of the concept of affirmations and positive thinking but no one really does this. Do they? I am a realist. I am comfortably bitter and cynical.. I am from the generation that coined inspirational phrases such as Shit Happens and Life Sucks and then You Die. I do not say positive affirmations in my mirror like some kind of freak show!


It is true I do not talk to my reflection. But I have been known to mumble an affirmation under my breath when no one is listening. I have a few accomplishments in my life that I am damn proud of and I have no shame about parading them around in my head when I am feeling low. And yes, at one time in my life I did (gasp!) have a few sessions with a therapist. (I am from New York City after all.)


When you are an athlete, it is perfectly acceptable to ooze positive thinking. Gymnasts visualize perfect beam routines moments prior to saluting the judges. Runners imagine a successful race as they are lying in bed the night before the marathon. Athletes set extreme goals and map out how they are going to reach them. They surround themselves with coaches and trainers who are constantly pumping them up. Why do you think MMA fighters have such an entourage? To tell them how great they are! (Also to dump water on their face between rounds. Water is important.)


As a parent, it is not only ok to be positive, it is imperative. The Little Engine that Could made it up that hill because he "thought he could." We teach our children to try and try again, that "can't" is an unacceptable four letter word, that "anything your heart desires will come to you." When our kids are sad we tell them that everything is going to be ok, because it almost always is. I expend a whole lot of effort trying to teach Maya that she gets what she gives. If what you give is a positive, happy attitude, guess what? You will probably be happy.


As we get older, and bad stuff happens, we lose some of our optimism. If enough bad stuff happens we can lose all of it and become bitter, pessimistic and grumpy. What happens then? We get sick more. We have less energy. We fail to give ourselves credit for accomplishments or celebrate the good because we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  And we start to feel really really old. Also, for some reason we New Yorkers like to make fun of optimistic adults, talk about a "child like enthusiasm" as if it is a bad thing, as if happy people are stupid. True, some may be in denial,  avoiding dealing with adversity by simply reciting a mindless mantra of "it will all work out." But the others are smart, capable people who just aren't completely jaded yet.


The thing is, this positive mental attitude thing actually works, and not just in sports. Sure it's hokey but so is Glee and everyone loves Glee! If you approach all areas of your life in an upbeat manner you will have a better life. Period.


Why does prayer work? Some people of course believe it is because God is listening. Perhaps he is but unfortunately we have no way of knowing this for sure. However, we have plenty of proof that when people have faith that things will improve, they often do. (So long as they are not the type to just sit there and wait for the Almighly to solve everything for them.) The act of "talking to God" gives them strength and comfort to get through hard times. It enables them to do more. Why? Perhaps when you think you are talking to God, you are really just talking to yourself. No mirror necessary.


(For a great read on the powers of prayer and the placebo effect I highly recommend "Miracle Cures: Saints, Pilgrimage, and the Healing Powers of Belief" by Robert Scott. And it is not just because he is Matthew's uncle. This is really a great book.)


I am far from an expert on positive thinking. When I can't reach Matthew on the phone I assume he is lying dead somewhere and whenever anyone is in the hospital I immediately think cancer. Over the course of these four years of being Maya's mother I have slowly learned that all bad things are a phase, that this too shall pass. But that does not mean the first time she hit me I didn't think, "Oh crap, my child is one of those. There goes the next 15 years!" 


But I try.


Recently I said to someone, "Just because it is the thing you are most afraid of does not have any bearing on whether or not it is going to happen." Fear makes the worst case scenario seem more possible, even if it is highly unlikely. On the contrary, a positive outlook can turn a negative situation into an opportunity. The mind is an incredibly powerful tool You can use it to beat yourself down, make yourself sick. Or you can choose to be healthier. You can choose to be happier. It is not easy, especially not for those of us from the angry land of NYC. But it is possible. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.  I CAN!


By the way, I am an atheist, living proof that although it definitely helps, you do not have to believe in God to believe in yourself.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

November 20, 2018

This morning, while out walking my dog, I watched a mother put her young boy onto the school bus. "Have a good day," she said. "Listen to your teacher."

The boy, who was about five years old, replied that of course he would, although it was unclear which of his mom's wishes he was agreeing to.

Listening. So and so is a "good listener." We talk so much about it, but many of us have no idea how to actually do it., so caught up in the words inside our own head that it is almost impossible to hear anything else. Yeah I am listening to you, but not really, I am really thinking about the next thing I am going to say. I am listening to you, but not really, because even though you know an awful lot about this, deep down my egotistical brain still thinks I know better. I am listening, but not really because even though you just showed the technique in perfect detail three times, and I swore I was really paying attention, somehow when it was my turn to drill it…

Namaste

For the past two days I have been feeling sick; an obvious side effect of spending so much time getting breathed on by small, germy children. This morning I was feeling much better, but not well enough for BJJ, so I decided to go to a yoga class instead. Turns out I was not quite well enough because about halfway through class my body was like, "Hey you, sick girl, you are kind of tired, this feels kind of yucky actually. How about you spend some time in child's pose instead."
As a lifelong athlete I am really, really good at getting messages from my body. I am less skilled, however, at actually following them.
This was not a difficult yoga class. But for me, today, it was impossible. My brain really did not like that. As I sat there with my eyes closed, breathing, the ever helpful voice in my head was saying things like "Everyone must think I am so weak. The teacher must think there is really something wrong with me. I should push through anyway. This is pathetic.&qu…

Roller Coaster

Its the roller coaster that gets me. The fact that you are just going along, doing your work, slowly climbing up, everything is going exactly according to plan, then Zoom!, down you go, fast, maybe not all the way to the bottom again, maybe somewhere halfway, but man you got there FAST! And now here we go again, back on the slow climb.
Some days it feels like you are doing everything right, you are busting your ass to accomplish all of your goals in every way that you know how, yet things just aren't going the way you want them to. On those days it is easy to get angry at the world. Don't you see I am doing my best here? Don't you see how hard I am working? OMG just get the f&*k out of my way! Stop asking for more of me! Can't you see I don't have any more??
But the thing is, that down part, it is on the track. It is part of the ride. it has always been a part of the ride. We knew if was coming, we could see it at the top of the long climb up. We didn't know…