Updated: Sep 11, 2022
A while back, I stopped looking at unsavory moments as problems and obstacles and started framing them as challenges. Problems and obstacles are often seen as trouble, difficulty, blocks, or hindering progress. The truth is that life is full of twists and turns that morph us into who we are. When I think of a challenge, I think back to the days of playing Super Mario Brothers with my brothers on Nintendo. I learned some valuable lessons from Mario and Luigi, lessons that made sense decades later. The game's premise is to jump over obstacles trying to annihilate you, while your reward is a few points from a mushroom, and then you’re onto the next level. Life is similar to Super Mario Brothers in that there will be hiccups while living, how we navigate and use challenges as teachable moments to move onto the next level determines our success.
It is common to hear influencers talk about staying motivated and positive 24/7. Although this is a fantastic concept, it may not ring true for everyone. What happens on those days when you don’t feel like being positive, or you're in a funky mood? How do you get yourself out of those low vibrational feelings? One of my favorite singers, Jill Scott, begins one of her songs by saying: “Everything ain’t for Everybody.” With that in mind, below are five ways I show up for myself when I don’t feel like it. Perhaps a few of them will speak to you as well:
1. Gratitude - Over a decade ago, by happenstance, I came across a text while riding on a long flight from New York to Las Vegas. I had a few magazines that I thumbed through in a matter of a short time, but with such a long flight ahead of me, I needed something denser to read. My friend, P, had a stack of books in her carry-on bag and allowed me to choose from her mini traveling library. I chose The Magic by Rhonda Byrne, a 28-day guide to gratitude. I replaced her book with my own copy as soon as I picked it up because I wanted to begin those practices immediately. For 28 days, I journaled about the things that I was grateful for in my life. I consider myself a positive person 80 to 85% of the time - leaving a little wiggle room for being human. But in all seriousness, looking back over those things that I wrote in my gratitude journal, I took an inventory of the things that were happening in my life that I took for granted. For example, if you can run fresh water from your faucet or if your toilet can flush, these are simple - and often considered “trivial” - things that we overlook.
Giving gratitude throughout your day provides opportunities for inflection, self-assessment, grace, reflection, clarity of hindsight, and thankfulness. What are three things that you are grateful for today?
2. Set Your Intention for the Day - How would you like your day to play out? Have you ever gone to bed cranky and woke up even crankier? Well, what if I told you that you could control the narrative of your day? What would you like to take away from the day? What are you offering the world? How are you showing up for yourself? In yoga, we begin our sessions by setting the intention for the day’s practice. Setting an intention is like having an action plan, and as a former educator, I had to create an aim or objective that I wanted our students to meet. This educational intention was a determining factor in ascertaining if the students grasped the concept or if they needed additional support. Your daily intention can be related to your personal or work life, whatever suits your needs. It helps to shift your attitude and be more mindful about your decision-making; eventually, you will see how empowered you are. Making time at the onset of your day to set an intention will yield a more productive day. What is your intention for the day?
3. Music - They say that music can soothe a savage beast - I say that music is a universal language full of magic and power. They say you are what you eat - I say that you are what you eat both literally and figuratively. If you make healthy food choices to eat, you are making your health a priority. The same goes with what we read, watch and listen to.
There have been many instances in my life where I wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but playing an inspirational song or playlist on repeat would lift my spirits. These powerful lyrics and vibrations remind me that challenges will come and go - that I have the tools and skill set to make it to the next level, just like Mario and Luigi.
I challenge you to create a motivational playlist of 10-12 songs and dedicate it to yourself. Growing up in the 80s and the 90s, it was common for someone to make a playlist via cassette tape and compact discs for the love of their life. Since you are the love of your life, creating a playlist to uplift your spirits when you are feeling down is an easy way to show up for yourself when you don’t feel like it. It’s hard to be pissed when your body moves to the rhythm, your lips sing along with the lyrics, while your feet tap and your fingers snap.
Creating an intentional playlist with inspiring words and rhythmic beats can be mood-altering, vibe setting, and provide the freedom to recalibrate unwanted anger and emotions.
4. Having an Accountability Partner - I learned about having an accountability partner when completing my yoga certification for educators. Think of it this way: an accountability partner is a buddy that keeps you accountable and committed to your goals. There are benefits to having such a person in your life; for example, it increases one’s ability to complete tasks and see things through.
“Research shows that when someone publicly shares their goals, they have a 65% chance of success. However, having a specific accountability partner boosts that chance to 95%.” I have an accountability partner for my business Breuchkelen Eclectic, who, funnily enough, I first met in our yoga certification program in 2018. In return, I have the honor of serving as her accountability partner. Every week we meet for about 90 minutes to discuss glows and grows in our lives and businesses. It’s easy to show up when things are working well but showing up when things are challenging requires strength and courage. Having an accountability partner can assist you with reaching your goals faster through consistency. You will be able to see the progress made by being responsible for taking actionable steps toward improvement.
5. Breathe - I know this sounds cliche, but there is power in intentional breathing. There are so many benefits one can acquire from deep breathing. Even as a yogini, I often remind myself to breathe during the day. Breathing helps reduce stress, and improve cardiovascular health, focus, and concentration which quiets the mind improves sleep quality and reduces anxiety.
According to scientists, we inhale and exhale about 22,000 times a day. There are 86,400 seconds in a 24-hour day and 1,440 minutes in a day.
We have so much time in a day, but many of us feel like we don’t have enough time to get things done. We can get so overwhelmed with adulting that we forget to take a couple of seconds or minutes out of the day to take a few deep breaths to recharge and relax.
Breathing is one of the easiest ways to show up for yourself when you don’t want to. Setting a timer for two minutes and doing a series of inhaling for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7, and gently exhaling for a count of 8 is one way to release. Over the summer, I learned about “Box Breathing” from my 17-year-old intern Sydney; for this technique, set a timer for one minute, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, release for 4 seconds, and relax for 4 seconds before beginning again. You can practice these breathing exercises when you wake up in the morning, before going to sleep, while driving, or on your lunch break. When we breathe, we assume that our next breath is a given. Let’s be intentional about our breaths by taking some time out of our day to breathe.