Hey friend, how did the last week of January go? ⚡️
I've had a blast practicing my mental health training on real people. I've already learned so much about having transformational conversations. There's a vibrancy about my day-to-day that’d been missing for so long.
That is, when this child lets go of me. He's guest starred in quite a few Zoom calls lately.
A few years ago, this all would've played out so differently. The toxic boss would've had my head spinning. The clingy toddler would've driven me bananas. I'm so grateful to be in the head space I am now—able to approach sticky situations from a place of, let's be real, sanity.
Which leads me to this week's topic, a question I received during one of my live calls:
How can I stop negative emotions from constantly sneaking up on me?
Before jumping in, I want to give a massive shoutout to Practice. I'm using their app to consolidate so many parts of my new business: scheduling, feedback, and invoicing in one place. It's honestly a huge weight off my shoulders.
Also, if you enjoy this email, it would mean the world to me if you forward it to a friend who might benefit from reading it, too. 🌟
Okay, onto the good stuff.
This week, I'm taking you on a trip into a desolate village.
When I worked at a nonprofit, our team traveled to a village so removed from civilization that it took two days to reach.
The path was treacherous, made up of bumpy dirt roads and long boat rides with supplies and donations precariously loaded aboard. The logistics were a mess.
But when the team finally arrived, the stark level of poverty hit them like a ton of bricks.
With thousands of villagers living in extreme poverty, the families collected water for drinking, cooking, and household chores from dirty, untreated streams—and then carried it home in buckets.
Diarrhea and hepatitis ran rampant throughout the community.
With no electricity, working toilets, or access to clean water, you can forget healthcare or medicine for when a child fell ill.
But despite all that, the team reported back something amazing:
The community members seemed happy...?
The villagers were in need of so much, yet they were more joyful than many people I know who have access to excess.
While the nonprofit worked hard to improve their living conditions, the unlikely sense of joy was a definite eye-opener.
It reminds me of people who go through atrocities and come out of the other end writing books and inspiring others, like Viktor Frankl or Edith Eger who survived the Holocaust. One of my favorite quotes is:
While my mission will always be to reduce preventable suffering, there are some we can't avoid walking through. In those moments, we can find a place within ourselves to learn strategies to turn suffering into growth and joy.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, utilizing certain aspects of our struggles can actually lead to a more fulfilling and serene daily existence.
I've done this myself.
My "little T" and "big T" traumas
Despite all the privilege in my life, I've lived through difficulties that transformed me—with proper guidance from professionals.
Here's a "little T" trauma from my work life:
When I owned my own business, I dealt with a difficult client that spiked my stress every time I checked my email inbox. Heart pounding, stomach in knots, beads of sweat on my temples.
To get through it, I learned to do breathing exercises before logging onto my computer. To avoid being in the same position again in the future, I learned to identify red flags and filter out clients that weren't a good fit for me
Now, here’s a "big T" trauma from my personal life:
During my third pregnancy, I suffered hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that rendered me bed-ridden and required oral meds daily and IV meds twice a week just so I could walk to the other side of the room without collapsing. I was suicidal, even though I'd have a healthy baby boy on the other end of it. The pain and misery was overwhelming.
Through that, I became more empathetic and caring, with a new level of compassion for all people who suffer (which is all of us at some point.) Because I've traveled to such dark depths of despair, I'm now able to love on a deeper level.
In both cases, I got through these experiences by zooming out to gain perspective and then shifting my mindset. Neither step is easy to do alone. I learned how to do this by working with a coach and a therapist.
I am far from perfect, but I have made some progress. Before trials like these, my life was very different.
Before, I was never sure when a wave of negative emotions would wash over me.
Before, I was always on the brink of losing control of my feelings.
Before, I was one bad comment away from a meltdown.
Before, I was often in a state of turmoil.
Sound like someone you know?
Why this happens
Humans have a tendency to focus on negative events, blowing them up to unrealistic proportions.
This is called the negativity bias.
It's why bad events or feelings typically have a bigger impact on our psychological state than positive events or feelings, even if they are of equal proportion.
You're not the only one. It happens to all of us. It's a part of being human.
But some of us learn to put negative events into their right perspective and then deal with them accordingly. There's a beautiful passage from C.S. Lewis that illustrates how this works.
Take the time to read this slowly—it's a long one.
We all experience "little T" and "big T" traumas.
They're all as different, but no matter the size, we can choose to process them in a way that molds us into a better version of ourselves.
If you find yourself constantly falling prey to negative emotions, remember to choose to listen to that "other voice", the one that tells you to find the learnings and growth within difficult situations.
How can you use your struggles to grow?
This will never be something that comes completely naturally. It takes intentional practice every single day.
A few days ago, I listened to a conversation with the quarterback coach that works with Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He shared this thought:
That's what practice is all about.
The more you practice, the less you have to think about how to execute.
It's why Michael Phelps fell asleep every night visualizing his best race. When he got water in his goggles at the Olympics, he was able to win gold, because he'd already practiced that scenario hundreds of times.
The more you practice listening to that other voice, the easier it'll be to pull it off without thinking.
Your challenges and difficulties can guide you toward joy. It's a choice you make daily.
You got this. ✌️
That's all for this edition.
I'll be back next week with another self-work strategy, to make life 10x better for you and everyone around you.
Until then, reply back with a difficulty you've faced in your life and how's it helped you grow into a better version of yourself.
Reading emails from you all is the best part of my day.
Sending you all the best vibes ✨
— Marcella ✌️
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