Now that you have seen the difference good mental hygiene has made in my life, I think there is one piece of information left to pass along. Changing your path from the downward spiral to the upward one will case pain. This should not be terribly surprising as without fearing this discomfort we would have made these changes long ago. However there is freedom in knowing what to anticipate on this incredible adventure of living, so let me give you a sneak peak.

If you look back through ANY of the previous chapters you will see that the struggle is real. For me, the negative emotions tended to manifest as feeling irritable with the people I love and changing my eating habits (read: eat all the Big Macs). So for me change can easily equate a fifteen pound weight gain and a husband on eggshells. Lovely. I know. But because my goal is to more authentically connect with life and not be so reactionary, I have come up with some techniques to employ during these times of change in our lives.

When you decide to switch from the negative spiral to the positive one you will experience trauma that comes with all change. The change for me, was losing my adherence to magic being the producer of my happiness. For example:

[] I did not magically feel happy again after leaving my family in Chicago.

[] My husband did not magically get a job offer on the time scale I would have liked in Residency.

[] My road was not magically fixed.

[] I wasn’t magically transported to a writers conference.

[] I didn’t magically receive a new kitchen island.

[] My husband did not meet my unspoken requests and magically stop time so I could go to a jewelry show.

And despite the fact that this seems slightly ridiculous thoughts like these caused me a lot of anxiety and stress over the years. And because I was sick and tired of being snippy with my husband and stuck in the drive thru line at McDonalds, I decided it was worth the pain of trying to change… and start upward spiraling. If you find yourself at this juncture, or are already changing but experiencing stress, try these hacks:

(1) START – Just because you are experiencing an emotional push back you still need to start the change in thinking. Find a person to talk to about the new direction you are going in, but take those first steps.

(2) FEEL SAD – However you were used to approaching problems (even if it didn’t work) was comfortable to you. It is okay to feel sad that you need to change.

(3) TREAT YOUR SELF – I am talking about compassion and self-love here, not milkshakes and french fries. Have a girls movie night. Buy a new planner and schedule yourself into the mix. Ask for hugs. Maybe you like working out. Do it! And don’t forget to breathe.

(4) BE NICE – You started making a change. You felt sad about losing your comfort zone. You even started doing Thai Chi three times a week. But you really need to watch out or you will become judgmental (and direct it towards your loved ones). I know it’s not fair that magic isn’t real but we felt with that in step (2) and felt sad. Don’t start insisting it should exist and that your spouse should be proficient in the art. Be nice is similar to… DON’T REVERT TO OLD THINKING. Remember you are headed for the upward spiral.

(5) MAKE A PLAN – The old way you were doing something did not in fact… work. SO you need to come up with a new way of doing / thinking / being. Husbands are great at helping with this but all to often we are caught up in step (2) feeling sad and struggling with step (4) being nice. But really, make a new plan in that planner you treated yourself to. There is a lot in life that you can’t control but your mental hygiene is NOT one of those things!

(6) RE-CHECK – How are things now? If you have flipped yourself from the downward spiral to the upward one, despite the difficulty of change, you should be feeling better. I know I did! Even though coming to the realization that magic wouldn’t be solving my problems was uncomfortable… the fact that things actually started working in my life was awesome! Was the process enjoyable? No. But the results were priceless.

So the goal during transition is not to freak out. Transferring to a place of good mental hygiene is worth the effort, and will bring so much happiness to you and those who love you. Change is only scary when you are unprepared. So hold out your hand; I’ve got you.

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