Over the last 18 months, I’ve worked really hard on building a strong, positive, and grateful mindset. I needed it to navigate my cancer journey and frankly I wish I would have found the practices I use, a bit sooner. I’ve been through a lot, we all have, which is why I think the practices are so important to share with other people. It’s been sort of my crusade to share it with as many people as possible as a means to navigate the hard stuff that gets thrown at us on a regular basis.
When I get up on stage to talk about mindset practices, resilience, gratitude, and navigating hard stuff, there’s sometimes a lingering impression that I’m really good at it – and that I have it figured out. That’s wildly inaccurate. Frankly that’s one of the things that is so challenging for me. I find it difficult to balance the competing priorities of being honest and authentic on stage, while also avoiding depressing people more with all the stuff I’ve experienced and the emotions I’m navigating regularly.
Recently, I’ve encountered a bunch of set-backs and challenges – in my business, my health, and my life. I’ve been angry, sad, tired, disinterested, reclusive, grumpy, and numb. I’ve had to really dig deep to do my daily gratitude practice and I have to search for the places of gratitude and joy. It’s been a struggle. It’s been a rollercoaster – and frankly – I want off the ride. It’s not been easy to keep a grateful and positive mindset lately.
My family and I took a trip to Disney World for fall break this month. While it was great to watch my children experience the magic for the first time, I still struggled daily. On our last day of the trip, we did a little shopping and I discovered a little shop with a bin of paper cards, each with a typed quote or saying on them. I’m a sucker for quotes, so I obviously stuck my hand in to pull out a card. The first card I pulled said:
“Angry is just sad’s bodyguard.” – Liza Palmer
Oof. I felt that deep in my bones.
Later that night, as I sat in my plane seat preparing for take off, I thought about that card. As I did, tears started to stream down my cheeks as I had a realization.
The last 8 years of my life have been a series of big challenges, from fertility to adoption to adoption again to job changes to pandemic to owning a business to cancer. I jumped from one hard thing to the next rarely looking up to realize where I was. I was determined to persevere. I was determined to “win”. For the most part, I did. Now, I’m tired. I’ve looked up and realized I forgot to grieve the losses that came with the challenges. I missed them before. I was too focused on getting to the other side of the hardship that I wasn’t paying attention to the things I was losing along the way. I see them now. I see them now and I’m sad.
Listen, I know I’m lucky and I recognize that I have far too many blessings to count, but I’m sad, too. I don’t want this to be a dumping ground for my feelings, but I also don’t want to give the impression that doing mindset work and practicing gratitude means that I float around in happy utopia every day. The truth is that its just not that easy, life isn’t that easy either.
I tell you all this because everyday, I still work at it. I still do the mindset work. Some days it helps me feel a little better. Some days, I’m still angry (or sad). So the funkiness you feel is okay – and it doesn’t mean that the gratitude work isn’t working – or that you should give up on it either.