"Xiomara, you have to think positively," my therapist said.
I pushed my hands harder against my eyes and took a deep breath. "But bad things keep happening," I gasped.
"Just because life isn't easy doesn't mean it's not worth living," she replied.
This conversation took place a month ago, before adding a second antidepressant to my medicine cabinet.
At the time, I felt as if I were regressing into my prior self: the Xiomara I've lived with throughout high school, college and beyond; the Xiomara who can't remember the good in life or see its presence within me.
I didn't really understand what he meant then, but I think I do now: Life has its ups and its downs, but if I let the downs overwhelm me, then I'm not really living.
Instead, I need to wrap my arms around that pain and accept it for what it is--terrible and terrifying but as an important part of my human experience.
How can I move past that pain if I don't face it head on? After all, there is no way that I can fully know what joy is if I don't fully experience sadness.
I need to remind myself that no matter how short or long my life may be, I have a purpose on this earth. In my roles as a mom, a daughter, a sister, a writer and an artist, I hope I'm fulfilling that purpose.
For a long time, I've retreated to a house I've built within myself, its bricks composed of sadness, self-doubt and negativity.
I don't want to live in that claustrophobic cage anymore.
I want to be free.
In my dreams, I am able to actually cope with the stressors of death, sickness, motherhood woes and financial struggles.
In my dreams, I am the kind of person who can appreciate the good in life and can consistently acknowledge my accomplishments.
I've realized that in order to achieve those dreams, I need to think more positively. I owe it to my family, to my friends and to myself to at least try to love myself.
It's easy to focus on the crappy parts in life and on my failings, but I'm thinking it's far more worth it to focus on the good parts instead, no matter how hard it may be to do so.
I'm thinking I can start with a few simple changes to words I think on a daily basis:
- Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, "Ugh, I'm fat," I can tell myself, "I'm beautiful."
- Instead of reflecting on my grandfather or Hurricane Sandy or the recent massacres, "What's the point to life if we just die?" I can say, "Even though death is incomprehensible to me and I'm sad to have lost my loved ones, it is okay for me to keep on living. In fact, it is necessary."
- Instead of looking back on personal tragedies and thinking "I'm worthless," I can remember that strength has been gained and say, "I survived."
In this empowering way, I can move forward physically, mentally and emotionally.
How does negative thinking impact your life?
How can you change your negative thoughts into positive ones?
This post is also linked to Honest Voices and Pour Your Heart Out with Things I Can't Say.