Every Sunday, I find myself having the same “oh, crap…tomorrow is already Monday” dialogue in my head. All the ‘what if’s’ about what the week will bring, the concerns of what might be, the premature stress about all that I’ll need to accomplish, and the self-inflicted pressures to achieve the highest level of work in order to feel that something of value was accomplished, swarm in my head like a colony of bees. I’m tired and feeling down even writing out those thoughts on paper!
As I have the same dialogue again in my head, I find myself this evening in a place where I can redirect some of those thoughts and do something with it. You may be asking, “What do you mean ‘find myself in a place to redirect”… which in all fairness is a valid question. Though I wish this was a literal reference to being in some relaxing vacation spot, it means that I am finding myself in a mental space that is clear enough to allow me the opportunity to ask myself tough questions and challenge thought processes.
When saying to myself the same statements week after week, “I hope this is a good week. I hope tomorrow goes well. I hope I have enough energy.”, etc. etc., I began to ask myself what that would look like. What does a good week mean? What does a good Monday look like? What does having enough energy feel like? Then…I made a list. For those who know me, lists are my JAM! Now, following the lists is a whole other story :)
With each “I hope statement”, I made a list for what this could look, feel, or sound like. I took a moment to sit with that list and really let it sink in. Then, I made another list similar to a ‘pros and cons’ chart, with one column saying ‘Things I Can Control’, and the second column saying, ‘The Things I Wish I Could Control…But Can’t’. I started to jot down any and all thoughts and ideas that I had. There were no right or wrong answers, this list was not going to be seen by anyone but me, so there was no reason to not be vulnerable with this process.
After taking a moment to let everything I wrote down sink in, I took another moment to assess how I was feeling. To my amazement, the feelings of hope and empowerment were starting to creep in slowly but surely. Why? What changed if these were common and frequent thoughts? What changed was that I finally had given myself the space to (a) accept and validate that the feelings I was having about the upcoming week were real and okay to have, and (b) that I could take a moment to be vulnerable enough with those feelings to write down what my hopes were and the potential action steps I could take. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always going to be easy to do. When we find ourselves in a darker time with mental health and/or mental illness, this may not always be the easiest to do without the help of an unbiased, nonjudgmental, and empathetic mental health provider or support person helping guide you through this self-reflection. If you are in that moment where this isn’t easy to do, know that you aren’t alone, and revisit doing this on a day where you feel more grounded in the present moment. Keep that list on hand to look at on the days when you could use the delicate reminder that ‘you got this’.
We all may find ourselves in a place where we are experiencing life’s great ‘what if’s’, and to some degree that is completely normal. That being said, the ‘what if’s’ can also be soul sucking and quickly overpower any healthy thoughts from coming through when we hold on to them. Let the ‘what if’s’ be what they are…passing thoughts that come and go like waves. Acknowledge that they are there and then let them float on down the river. This can be said with many emotions that we experience.
As I hold tightly to my hopes for myself this week, I want to leave you with some hopes that I have for you as well…
I hope that you find the power to make one small change this week that leaves you feeling more hopeful and empowered.
I hope that you are able to acknowledge the ‘what if’s’ for what they are, and then let them leave as quickly as they came.
I hope you are able to find joy and/or happiness in one new thing this week.
I hope you know that you aren’t alone in the times that feel dark and lonely.
I hope you know and believe that YOU GOT THIS.