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“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Happy Friday!

This week, I’m feeling fearlessly Seventeen again and thrilled to be in THE magazine of my teenage years!

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Shhh…I’ve got a secret…

The stomach thing – not so much a secret anymore.  But, this week I wrote a lot about secrets.  And that’s not such a secret – in fact, it’s on Role Reboot this week.

To the man who molested me before my coma – an essay.

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In fact, secrets aren’t good for any of us.  When we keep emotions inside of us, whether it’s from shame, fear, or guilt, they become locked in our bodies.  They isolate us from the outside world and ourselves.

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That’s why I decided to share my story of sexual abuse with Role Reboot.  Many survivors struggle with the burden of a secret. Holding things in from our past can only hurt us.  We need to share what happens to us, not only for ourselves, but for the world.  You never know how your story might reach someone who needs it at the right time.

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That’s one of the main messages behind my sexual assault program.  I remember the hot red feeling of anxiety I felt holding in the secret of my molestation for months.  It didn’t feel so great.

Even though it didn’t feel good, I understand why I was afraid to tell anyone about my molestation – or face it myself.

How do we face “icky” feelings?

Slowly and gently.  Remember – “icky” doesn’t feel so great.  If we feel, we might remember things from our past that we’re avoiding.  It can be scary to feel.  This fear protects us.  If we don’t feel, we don’t have to remember difficult experiences or the thoughts that may come up for us.

What to do with a negative thought…

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Have you heard of a negativity bias?  We’re more sensitive to negative thoughts, so we tend to cling to the negative comments from others and from ourselves, even with all of the positive, optimistic compliments in the world.

What do you do with a negative thought?

Notice it:  Be aware of that thought and hear it.  I’ll never get better.

Think it through:  Imagine the outcome of that negative thought fully spiraling.  I’ll never get better, I won’t find a job and I’ll live alone for the rest of my life.

Manage it:  Learn how to work through that thought and allow it to transform you in a few ways…

“Nah, I’d rather pretend it’s not there.”

You might try to run from a scary thought by suppressing it, or telling yourself it’s a “silly” thought.  You might try to suppress a thought through isolating, numbing, or preoccupying yourself with something else.

But try these management techniques instead:

Active Management:  Exercise.  Run.  Shout.  Scream.  Take all of that energy fueling the negative thought and use it as endorphins.

Calming Management:  Breathe out your thoughts or sit with them through meditation.  Focus on feeling good in your body by getting a massage or taking a warm bath and let those thoughts fade away for a bit

Creative Management:  Let negativity be your best ally.  Remember that kid who insulted my artwork?  Or my father’s fourth grade teacher who told him he was a terrible artist?  Or the despair I felt being stuck in Yale Hospital after my 13th surgery?  Use it as creative fuel.  Paint a negative picture and rip it up. Write a letter to that negative thought.

Here’s an example.  I hated my ostomy for a very long time.  I just knew I “hated it” – and I couldn’t rid myself of that thought for years.  So..I did some “felt” therapy:

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I’m not saying it’s pretty – but if yuo view my Art Therapy Gallery, you’ll see a ton of scribbling and “art” I’ve done – the only purpose?  To be with my thoughts in a safe way.

A Detourist who managed her negative emotions artistically…

This week on Why Not Wednesday, I was thrilled to feature Colitis Ninja for #IBDAwareness Week.  After an illness caused a “detour” in her life, she discovered her love of comics, art, and gosh is she talented!  Check out her post here.

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Share your story with us!

Do you want to share your detour?  Check out what a Detourist is and write in about your story!  Or take a picture, tag it with #LoveMyDetour to snag a spot in my #LoveMyDetour Gallery.  You never know who your story may inspire.

What’s a Detour?  Something that caused you to change the usual direction you would have gone in.  Simple enough.

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As you can see, my family has had a ton of detours in their lives, and they were loud and proud about it this Thanksgiving!  (A bit more on that here.)

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To get rid of negative thinking, we don’t have to pretend those thoughts aren’t there.  We just have to be willing to face those thoughts head on.

Remember that it’s normal to be scared of negative thoughts or feelings.

It’s natural to want to pull away from hard or painful experiences.  Think of your reflex when you touch a hot stove – OW!

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BUT: If we pull away from those negative experiences – those experiences which are part of being human – we give up the full experience of being human.  We need to experience the pain in life to make room for the good.  If we don’t, that pain stays inside of us – just because we’re avoiding it doesn’t mean it goes away.  It’s there.

 

It’s hard work to avoid negative thoughts – it means we’re constantly living life on the run.

What happens when we avoid negative emotions brought up from a past experience…

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  • We become disconnected and withdrawn
  • We narrow our range of existence and lose contact with friends
  • We try to control our world to stay “emotionally safe”, and then outside world becomes dangerous, further alienating us.

How do we move through a negative emotion or event?

  • We take steps to reengage with the world – which means starting to take baby steps back into those thoughts and feelings.  Then, the healing starts.
  • Healing happens when we trust.  People can recover, move on and endure if they have ONE person they can attach to and connect with on emotional level.

How to move through it:

Remember, you don’t know what you’re capable of until you’re tested.  There’s no way of knowing until you decide you’re going to take that leap.  Did a negative emotion or thought scare the living daylights out of you?  Are you run by that emotion, run by fear?

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Let that fear transform who YOU are.  Let that fear be your compass on your beautiful detour.Fear is a valuable tool in a Detourist’s resiliency toolbox.

Watch my TEDx Talk on how I transformed my fear into more fuel to travel all of my very scary “detours…”

Remember – it’s the twists, turns and difficulties in your path that can transform you and your journey.  Those fears, hardships and detours are what makes you human and…YOU.

That’s why we share our stories.  We share our “detours” instead of running from them.  We share to cheer each other on in our journeys. We share to encourage our fellow Detourists to reach that beautiful clearing – perhaps a different one than they planned for themselves, but perhaps an even more beautiful sight to see.

How you can help another Detourist today:

Do you have a friend who you think needs way more credit than they give themselves?  It’s OK to ask someone you care about, “Are you struggling with negative thoughts?  Is there anything you just want to talk about?” Or give them some helpful resources.

I recently wrote about “Bridging the Gap” for college students.  Everyone deserves a little help getting a little help through their detour.  Sometimes it takes a Broadway-Style college mental health advocacy program.  But sometimes it just takes a friend to ask, “Hey, what’s going on?”

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We can help each other navigate our own detours just by being a good listener too.

I’m listening to your suggestions…

Speaking of listening – I’m loving all of your weekly suggestions for my “Name My #Artoftheday” every Monday!  Next week, anyone who comments on a title suggestion is getting entered in a lottery for a free private coaching session – so get out your thesaurus, random title-generator, peanut gallery comments, whatever, I’m ready for ya!

Any thoughts for titling this week’s?

Oh by the way, all of my art’s for sale  Check out my gallery, my Etsy shop, or I’ll make something for ya.

I’m trying to save up enough money to perform Gutless & Grateful…in Hawaii this April!  I’ll be presenting my mental health advocacy program and one-woman autobiographical musical at the International Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities...but that’s another announcement for another day!

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So this week, remember to listen, share, and love those negative thoughts – paint them, dance them, breathe them, tweet or instagram them, love them – love your detour!

If life's taken you down an unexpected path, you're a Detourist

I #LoveMyDetour.  Now why don’t you tell me why you love yours!!!

Subscribe for more Detourist adventures…and a free guide on how to balance you work, life and creativity instantly in your inbox!

 

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