We all recognise the daily grind. The wear and tear of a million tiny burdens which work together to bring us to our knees. In much the same way as drops of water add together over time against land to wear away our literal foundations, the constant wearisome action of day to day problems tend to grind down our emotional resilience. As someone who is emotionally sensitive the impact of the feelings of weariness may at times seem out of proportion to the triggering event. If only I could give as much weight to the little positive things, as I do to those things which work against me and my emotional resilience.
It is a phenomenon that is not reserved solely for those of us who battle internal as well as external pressures. Large firms are quoted as giving additional weight to positive comments about their service or products as opposed to the more frequent negative comments. We find it easier to notice and dwell on the negative in our lives, than we do the positive.
The fact is that life is light and shade, ups and downs, positive and negative. In our DBT skills group we had a jar which was passed round the group into which we placed different coloured glass beads. We had to tell the group about positive and negative events from the past week and place coloured beads accordingly into the jar, but we had to put two in for every positive event and one for negative. It was a great way to help me to notice how many positives there were in my life over time.
As someone who feels things intensely I find it fascinating that I am comfortable in experiencing the negative in life, that I tend to dismiss the positives that flow my way from positive relationships and events. Noticing and keeping a record of good things has become a necessary discipline in helping me to maintain emotional balance.
Another thing I have noticed is that, at first, I kept waiting for the big events and encouragements, whilst I dismissed the small things that make life bearable at times. If only I would give myself more of a break and let go of the million small disappointments and knocks that are also a part of life.
I have started listing the little things that lift me up.
1) The extra boost that the lengthening days gives to my mood.
2) The joy of how satisfying it is to bake and cook for myself - also helps that the products can be consumed - saving me money and keeping me from junk food!
3) Allowing myself to get soaked through on a rainy day followed by enjoying a hot shower and some pampering before climbing into my onesie.
4) The physical and emotional sigh of getting undressed at the end of the day and curling up in my pjs afterward.
5) Enjoying the freedom of dancing madly to fun music - thankfully I've reached an age where I just don't care and I'm enjoying that!
6) I can choose to make myself sick on all my favourite childhood sweets - if I want to.
7) When I am happy I can indulge it as much as I used to indulge my negative feelings - without feeling guilty.
8) I love enjoying cotton sheets and clothes - cool
9) Coffee - just excellent, freshly brewed coffee, the smell, the taste, the sight.
10) (I'm wary of advertising, but here goes anyway...) Lindt chocolate - eating a Lindor - slowly...
At first I need to be deliberate about noticing and keeping a record of these little things, but, as with most things in life, as I keep going it will become as much a part of my world view as my tendency to think negatively about myself and my experience of the world used to be.