Or 10 tips to keep you positive and smiling
Until I started to understand more about my energy flow, little did I know that I’d been vibrating away quietly to myself all this time. As a child I used to love walking barefoot, took my shoes off at every opportunity, to feel the ground underneath me, and I still do. I’ve always loved walking among trees and being out in nature, soaking up the energy from flora, fauna and sun, being by and in water. And cats. Of course cats! (and the odd guinea pig too, if you’d like to know). I played piano. I sang in a choir. I loved listening to classical music. I wrote stuff. I ate a largely plant-based diet, with little junk food. And I smiled a lot. It’s what I was known for. I made people smile. I attracted them, because I made them feel better. There’s a Dutch word for it, they call it: “uitstraling” – “radiating out”, my mother told me the other day, when she was reminding me of a time when I was a young child and we gave a lift to a homeless man. I could obviously feel that he needed some warmth (in the figurative sense) and so snuggled up close to him in the car, beaming up at him, to try to help him.
I was creating good vibrations, my energy was high, because of all those things. And equally, because I was in the right zone, being present, in flow, vibrating at the right frequency, I enjoyed doing all those things. Except I didn’t know that it was called any of those things. I’ve never been very good at following zeitgeist, the latest cool thing - I like to discover things my own way, in my own time. I was just doing it, following my instinct, following what felt right, what felt good. Partly down to learnt behaviour of course, because every time I made someone else feel good, the good feeling it was giving me was being reinforced too. But I digress. What I am trying to get across here, is the fact that there is a lot of jargon associated with all this. Fancy words and language to describe normal, everyday things, that can create a sense of “them and us”, people who “get it” versus people who don’t, and I don’t feel that’s a very helpful or inclusive way of being. I believe it’s important to share what we can, with anyone and everyone who might find some value in what we have to give. So I’m going to try and explain it a little more clearly, in this blog post.
Sharing the good vibes
It wasn’t until, as a much older adult, I seriously started getting into yoga - and through yoga, meditation, breathwork and other “wellbeing” practices – that I truly began to understand that we have direct control over our energy levels, that by doing things like yoga and meditation, being out in nature, music, dancing, singing, being creative, eating healthily, treating your body and mind well, all these things and more directly contribute to positive feelings of wellbeing. And that when we’re in this contented state, it’s infectious; and more than that, it makes us want to share it. Which then makes more people feel better, and so the ripples spread. Because it’s just science really isn’t it. Chemistry raising endorphins, dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain and physics creating energy, wave frequencies that we are emitting that bounce around, particles catching a sunbeam and lighting up another. Creating a flow of energy, sparking a connection.
Somewhere between that happy child and the zen yogi, though, I lost my mojo for a while (but found more jargon!). No matter now the cause, I’m not even sure if I know. Something made me lose my self-confidence, made me become an observer and critic of myself, rather than continuing wholly integrated, unshaken in my knowledge that I was ok as I was. Normal teenage angst maybe, mixed in with some other stuff that made it harder for me to find my way back to my smiley, confident core. From this time on, without even being aware of it, I developed a whole set of negative beliefs about myself and the world, that over time and force of habit, became my reality, my new belief system. And while I never fell into the victim state of blaming it all on everyone else and the world around me, I stepped onto another equally energy-eroding treadmill, the overly self-critical, never feeling good enough, high achievement & perfection focused one that so many of us get stuck on, conditioned as we are by our upbringing, society and media.
Learning to love yourself
Enter another buzzword du jour: self-love. I wasn’t loving myself. By constantly criticising myself, doubting myself, I was caught up in a self-perpetuating loop of bringing myself down, bringing my energy down, lowering my vibration. And because energy flows both ways, and what we put out gets reflected back, I wasn’t getting positive vibes back. Except I didn’t understand that at the time, I just got more miserable, and tried even harder to be a better person, telling myself I wasn’t good enough (and attracting the sort of people who also kept telling me I wasn’t good enough). Sound familiar? (You might not call it energy flow or vibrating at the right frequency either!). It’s a form of self-sabotage, that you might not even be aware of, since these limiting beliefs become so ingrained over time.
And after a while, all this negativity can start to have an effect on your physical and mental health as well. And then self-love becomes about self-care, doing things that keep you healthy and happy, but even before that, learning what keeps you healthy and happy. We can’t truly help ourselves until we understand ourselves. Until we have done the self-discovery work to understand what made us lose our carefree, child-like approach to life, and to accept and move on from whatever it was that was the root cause. It’s also about learning to listen to your instincts again, learning to recognise (and avoid) your triggers, and about understanding your body, not just your emotions, how it works, what it needs, what keeps it healthy and pain-free. Taking control of your thoughts again, instead of letting them control you, and with them creating a positive reality for yourself.
Learning to love who you are is about more than just dropping the negative self-talk. It’s about treating yourself how you would like to be treated by the love of your life. Someone who loves everything about you, even when you squeeze the toothpaste tube from the wrong end or never put the rubbish out. Someone who gives you a pep talk when you’re feeling down, who sings your praises, who gets excited by your successes. Someone who’ll cook you your favourite meal because they know it will make you smile. Someone who runs you a bath and lights some candles to help you to relax after a long, hard day. Someone who motivates you to get up early and go for that run, do that yoga practice. Someone who buys you flowers just because. Someone who doesn’t mind when you make a mistake or get cross, because they know that’s just part of life, and love you just as you are.
Because loving yourself is also about being authentic, being true to yourself, who you are, just as you are. It’s about being happy with your uniqueness, not feeling that you have to try to be like everyone else – that way negative self-image lies! Only when we have learnt to love ourselves fully can we truly act from the heart, from our authentic, instinctual self, like children do, like we used to do as a child.
10 ways to feel happier
Back to energy. Just like we know a plant needs enough water and sun (and a bit of good compost every now and again!), or a car need regular top-ups of petrol and oil, for us to run at optimal speed, to stay positive - which means keeping our vibrations high - there are certain known things that can help us to do that, to help us build a protective shield that deflects the negativity and keeps us calm and purposeful. So if you clicked on the link hoping this blog post was just going to be a list of 10 things you can do to generate good vibrations, ok then, here goes:
- Let go of things you can’t control. This means stop trying to control other people, the situation, the weather, what people should think, the future, the outcome. Stop. The only thing you can control is you. Your thoughts, your reactions, your fears, your negative self-talk, your impulses.
- Learn what your triggers are and what puts you in a more positive frame of mind. Do more of those things. Also practise activities which reduce your triggers and make you more aware of them. (This might even be counselling/therapy/coaching!)
- Understand what gives your body energy too, and what’s bad for it. When your body becomes low on energy or you get ill that’s often as a direct result of too much of things like stress, food that doesn’t agree with you, or not enough self-care & rest.
- But it’s ok to have cake every now and again.
- Practise gratitude. Find things in every day, every day, that make you grateful and smile. Thank people. Thank yourself.
- Share the good feelings! Share kindness, share joy, share praise, share love. (Yes, that does mean with yourself too!)
- Find something to occupy your mind that keeps you absorbed (“in flow”, “in the moment”).
- Stop thinking everything is about you. I mean, of course you are the first person that matters, your needs come first (otherwise you don’t have enough reserves to help others), but if you can let go of your ego and start to understand that other people’s reactions are nothing to do with you personally, but are telling you something about them, you will be happier, I promise! Reacting kindly when someone hits a nerve can change the energy in an instant. Also spending time helping others is a good way to keep you absorbed “in the moment”, and makes you feel good.
- Dance, sing, laugh, love, do yoga, meditate, run, ride your bike, ride a horse, go for walks, climb a tree, hug a tree, plant a tree, swim, listen to music, play music, pick up a paint brush, bake, cook, read a book, write a poem, gaze up at the stars…this list can go on and on!
- Learn to be comfortable in your own company, without needing to find something to fill the void. Let your own energy fill it.