Don’t be a ‘hater’ I’m not sure when I started to “hate” the winter. But I can tell you that “hating” anything, including the winter, did more harm than good. Here’s why….AND how to change your perspective.
If I were to look back, I think I can trace this hate of winter to college. I went to school in Burlington, VT, one of the most beautiful locations in the country, yet also one of the coldest. In the wintery weather, walking to my classes seemed like an experience in suffering. Back then, no one really wore hats or warm boots (well, probably the truly smart people did!).
I remember feeling two things about winter. One was that it got dark earlier, making me feel stifled because it was unsafe for women to walk alone on campus. The other was the feeling of wanting to stay inside permanently and not face the harsh winds that often went well below zero.
During this time, I began to experience an increase in chronic digestive pain and feelings of depression. The depression seemed to invade my body just as the darkness invaded the day.
I began to hate and fear the winter and the darkness for stopping me from doing all the things I wanted to do.
Darkness became synonomous for failure — for all the things I didn’t get done that day.
After years of these thoughts, they took on their own form and became beliefs, habits and over time, even more depression. At some point, even just hearing about snowfall or seeing it brought on this Pavlovian response in my body and mind.
When I began to recover, I started to shift a lot of my thoughts, peeling away the layers of these beliefs and habits. Eating healing foods also repaired my digestion, bringing about an increase in serotonin (the feel good hormone) and better moods year-round. While this didn’t happen overnight, I was amazed at how quickly my body and mind did start to recover.
I began to examine my thoughts — often catching myself with a negative thought and learning to replace it with something more supportive of my wellbeing. This took a lot of practice and continues to take practice in my life today.
Thoughts Create Reality
So many of us have heard this before — our thoughts create our reality. That each thought we think contributes to our experience in life.
Experiment with this yourself: For just one day, notice what you are thinking and then notice how you feel. Write down your thoughts and check in to see how you feel. You’ll probably find, like I have, that there is a correlation. For example, when I’m doing a lot of “what if this happens,” and “what if that happens,” I am in fear and doubt. This makes me feel nervous and anxious.
Add stress into the mix and you pump up the volume on negative thoughts and feelings.
Last week, I was overly busy, got stressed and had to take a trip. Like any good winter in the Northeast, there was a storm, dropping a foot of snow within a 1 hour radius of my home. I found myself worrying about the cold weather, about my drive. And that old familiar feeling of hate started to creep in. Hating the snow, hating winter and asking myself why I was still here in the Northeast, where everything was so “hard.”
The worry permeated my days. My mood started to drop. I spent some time shifting my thoughts, but the old habit was too strong and that thread of doubt and worry kept slipping in.
Then Something Happened
I am staying in a remote location right now, where there are no plows and I have no garage for my car. My neighbors came along with their riding snow blower and cleared my driveway and my walkway. It was like I witnessed my first miracle after the storm.
The day that I left for my trip, I had an easy time packing and clearning off my car.
And the trip itself was absolutely beautiful. The snow blanketed the mountains, adorned the pine trees and covered the landscape in fluffy white perfection.
I listened to Wayne Dyer’s Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life and soothed myself into a new perspective.
This winter is not hard. The snow and darkness does not stop me from doing what I want to do. Unless that’s what I believe.
In that moment, I shifted my thoughts and realized that the snow is beautiful. That preparing for a trip takes more patience and requires one to slow down. That this blanket of white is really a call for regeneration — a mandatory stillness and hibernation. A call for staying inside with loved ones and going inside your mind. Winter is not a time for depression, but a time for introspection and slowness that feels at odds with the frenetic pace of life that I had created and am still subject to when I’m not paying attention.
Why did I spend time in worry, fear and feeling like life was “hard” before I had actually allowed myself to experience what the snow really was? Why did I close the doors to other perspectives that would allow me to feel good about life?
Here Are 3 Reasons to Change Your Perspective
- Because you want to feel good. This is all any of us want in life. So how do you feel good? In my own experience, it’s when I start to see the good things in my life. It’s like when you want to buy a red car and suddenly, you see red cars everywhere that you hadn’t noticed before. What you focus on expands and becomes your reality. When you change your perspective, you see more good in yourself and your life – and the better you’ll feel.
- Because you want life to be easy. Have you experienced a day when everything seems easy? What was your perspective on that day? Why does it seem easier to do the things we know how to do well and harder to do new things? Most of the time, worry and negative thoughts about a situation makes it seem harder than it really is. Experiment with keeping an open mind about doing something new or something you think could be hard. Break it down into chunks of tasks and see where you can ask others to help you. Believe it can be easy and that you’ll find creative ways to make it so. You might just find that everything in life seems easier when you take this approach.
- Because you want to do what you love. Doing what you love, living your dreams – we hear a lot about it, but some of us actually believe we can’t or don’t deserve it. Are you one of those people? Take a look at your perspective here. Do you think you can’t because you won’t be able to make money? You’d like to, but who are you to be able to do what you love? That you might not be good enough? I know these are reasons that kept me from leaving a toxic job and removing energy draining people from my life. Once I shifted my perspective, I was able to move through my fears (there were a lot, believe me!) and step into work and a lifestyle of my dreams. Everyone can do this, but not if we let fear stop us.
So What Does this Have to Do with Recovery?
It’s not about being broken forever, it’s not about struggling, it’s about learning to soar and mastering the game of life.I found that “recovery” is not really this place of changing a behavior or anorexia, bulimia, binge eating or exercise addiction. In fact, I have realized that recovery is actually a way of living. It’s a way of living that involves getting clear about what I truly want in my life and who I truly am. This is something EVERYONE can benefit from, so it’s not unique to those of us recovering from addictions.
Recovery is creating a strong foundation in life, so that you can feel good, so that life can be easy, so that you can do what you love.
It’s a recipe for living. For thriving instead of surviving.
Instead of expecting an immediate result, make shifting your perspective a practice. Notice what happens over time. It’s just like investing your money in a 401k. You may put a little in at a time, but if you start now and invest regularly, your interest will compound and your money will grow exponentially.
Start today with just one thought
Nurture and support a loving thought and see what happens in your life. Start adding more over time and you’ll see that you experience more and more miracles each day.
Who knows, you may even find yourself celebrating the “ordinary miracles” that we often take for granted! Here’s some inspiration from Sarah McLachlan – Ordinary Miracle.
I am off to my home in Saba, a tiny Caribbean island for the winter. If I had kept all those negative thoughts I used to have, I never would have been able to see through the fear I had of leaving my job. I never would have been able to make the miracle of living on a beautiful island a reality. For this former skeptic, my miracle is shifting my perspective so that I could allow the life I love to show up.
My Favorite Resources for Shifting Perspective:
- You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay
- Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life, by Wayne Dyer
- The Serenity Principle: Finding Inner Peace in Recovery, By James Bailey
- The Power of Infinite Love & Gratitude, by Dr. Darren Weissman
The Hay House I Can Do It Conferences – these are amazing thought-shifting experiences!
- Hay House Radio – free programming with gurus who teach us how to change our perspective and create our ideal lives.
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