Friday, July 26, 2013

No Saying No

The other day, a random challenge popped into my head. I wondered if I could eliminate the word "no" - and any form of it - from my vocabulary. This included words such as not, nobody, nothing, as well as contractions like don't, can't, shouldn't, couldn't, didn't, and won't. I figured while I was at it, I'd throw the ominous "never" into the pot. Because if there's anything worse than thinking that you can't do something, it's that you'll never be able to. I'm going to add one small exception to this challenge, and that is, commands to my dog. Not that I want to throw negative vibes at her, but simply, she knows the word "no" and tends to follow it, and if she's about to do something dangerous like run into the street, I'd rather break my vow of eliminating "no" than put her life in danger. I'm going to work on more positive cues for her, but as she's unaware of the self-created challenge, it may be a slower process. Additionally, for the purposes of this blog, I will be using these words intentionally simply to highlight points.

I started this challenge yesterday and I have to say, it's tougher than I imagined. The "no" itself is probably the easiest to eliminate, oddly enough. It's the "don't" and "can't" and the like that are a bit tougher. I notice it particularly when I write. It's amazing how negative our vocabulary is - or at least mine. I wonder if that was always the case, or if we have gotten more negative over the years. Were our conversations always filled with doubt and dismissal? Or have we been taught that to be positive, to believe heartily in situations, other people, and ourselves, is unrealistic, and that we'll only be disappointed? I'm inclined to think the latter, though I'd be curious to hear from those who have lived longer than myself and perhaps watched more of a transition.

For those of us with mental health conditions, I believe this negativity can have an even more drastic effect. If we are already dealing with anxiety, depression, or panic, for instance, the focus on "no" and "can't" and "shouldn't" can only exacerbate these. For instance, if I have come out of a depressive cycle, and I'm feeling positive about life (I don't tend to have the "delusions of grandeur" that is suggested in cycling systems, I just feel positive and energetic), and I'm constantly hearing how I can't or shouldn't do something, that an idea that's exciting to me is not a good one, it squelches me. Even in my most positive state, I start to feel worthless, like I have my head in the clouds and the success I hoped to have is a delusion after all. I'm sure this is the same for others. And even for those without a condition...who wants to have their ideas put down, and their dreams admonished?

I truly feel that focusing on the negative brings it to us. If, for example, all I keep thinking is "I hope I don't mess this up", I'm so fixated on the "messing up", that my brain tends to ignore the "don't" portion. It seems that inevitably, the negative thing I'm so focused on occurs. So if, instead, I think, "I hope I (or I'm going to or I plan to) do a great job with this", my brain hones in on the "great job", and I'm more likely to accomplish whatever it is - because that's where my energy is being placed. Obviously, there are possible exceptions. Natural disasters, freak accidents, and this kind of thing. Overall though, I've found that the more positive energy I place into my thought, the more positive the outcome, and the better my overall mood. So, I'm excited about this challenge, and I feel I'm up to it. I'd welcome anyone who wants to take it with me.  

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