When I was a kid, I used to dread Father's day. It was the one day a year that I was reminded I was without a father.
During weddings when it was time for the father-daughter dance, emotions would stir up in my chest, my eyes would prickle, and my throat would thicken. I didn't really know what that feeling meant, only that it sucked. I knew I was blessed with an amazing mother and family, but the absence was prominently felt and would spiral into other thoughts of how my life was lacking.
Though I don't think about father-related things that I lack much anymore (now that I have a great husband and father-in-law), I do, however, succumb to negative thoughts which seem to have the same physical reactions.
For me, negative thoughts are almost always about what I don't have. I don't have my dream job, I don't have an earth-shattering MS to share, I don't have this or that. I've wasted the past few months doing nothing. It's an ugly thing to do, but I'm human and I have these kind of thoughts. I try to combat this by practicing gratitude each morning, going to yoga and filling up on positive vibes, but negative thoughts have a certain power over us. It changes our brain chemistry and seeps into our habits. It diminishes our belief in ourselves and what we think we're capable of.
I've found that with negative thoughts and practicing gratitude, they simply cancel each other out, and I end up in this 'complacent' zone. Not really changing, staying comfortable within my means, and going nowhere. And growing up, counting the life experiences I missed out on because I didn't have a father would do nothing to change my circumstances.
So what should we do if we find ourselves in a life of complacency or in a phase where we feel like our life is lacking?
I came across something (not sure if I read it in an article, blog post, or something) about animals and where they fit in the world. For brevity, I'll focus on bees. Bees have a purpose--to make honey. This allows them to have sustenance in order to survive. Different bees have different roles to play in a hive community. Some go out into the world and collect nectar, some tend to the hive and the baby bees, then there's the queen bee, etc. I won't go into depth about the hive community (you can do a google search about that), the point is, bees have a purpose and they do their job. They are born into their role and they do it without complaint. We, as humans, however, get to pick our role and essentially our own purpose. The only catch is, we don't get to choose our circumstances.
If we let our circumstances (or in my case, negative thoughts and focusing on the things I lack) take precedence in our minds though, we'll never get where we want to go or be in a positive mindset. In order to get past this complacent zone, we have to be like bees and stop complaining and/or focusing on the things standing in our way.
Feeling sad about the father I never had, will never bring him into existence.
Practicing gratitude about the things I have is great--but practice it too much, and I'll start thinking I don't deserve anything more.
Nike had it right with their motto: Just do it. Whatever it is you want to do that gives you happiness, lights a fire underneath you, brings that spark into your life, just do it. Don't let the positives and negatives ensnare you into a mental tug of war. Sure it's good to feel your emotions and acknowledge your thoughts, but don't dwell on it too much. After all, you have things to do.
So if you ever feel like you've lost motivation, just think about the bees out there doing what they need to do, and ask yourself, what do you need to do to feel happy/good about yourself/positive/motivated?