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November 16, 2018

Staying Positive When You Feel Like Crap.

You are strong for getting out of bed in the morning when it feels like hell. You are brave for doing things even though they scare you or make you anxious. And you are amazing for trying and holding on no matter how hard life gets. ~  Unknown

When your mind, body and soul are all in sync, it’s pretty easy to look at the world in a positive light. But what happens when one of those three decides to go rogue?

Someone close to you passes away … you lose sleep, don’t eat right, and your body takes a hit.

Passed up for that promotion … negative self-talk weighs in with “why didn’t I get what I earned?” commentary.

Bad break-up … there goes the morning workout, go-ahead binge eat or drink.

Physical illness takes its relentless toll…”why bother” becomes a daily mantra.


It’s common to have these reactive tendencies when life throws us the proverbial wrench.

When life is good, it feels good. But life is not always good. Bad things happen. Illness, disappointment, and challenges can strike at any time.

The best thing you can do is arm yourself with a positive, growth mindset from the start. For me, I got a late start. But I learned that it’s never too late to lift myself up and out from the crushing weight of burden.


The What’s Wrong With Me Years

One of my darkest times came when I found myself battling an undiagnosed tumor. It took over two years to uncover that I was suffering from a pheochromocytoma (pheo to keep it short).

A pheo is a rare tumor that usually develops in cells of one of the two adrenal glands. Mine was on my right. We have an adrenal gland above each of our kidneys. These glands are vital to our well-being and they play a critical role in producing the hormones that we need, particularly during times of stress. They also regulate metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and other essential functions.

Pheo symptoms are seemingly unpredictable however I eventually picked up the patterns.

Symptoms such as high and erratic blood pressure, headaches, night sweats, frequent urination, trembling, and chattering teeth left me in a continued state of anxiety and physical distress. Pheos are challenging to diagnose because the symptoms usually mimic anxiety and high blood pressure. Even when a pheo is suspected, it can be extremely small making it difficult to locate even with the best scan technology. Hence its nickname: the autopsy tumor.

Sharing my story helps in two ways: to increase pheochromocytoma awareness and inspire you to own your well-being — especially when it is not in a state of well.

During the two years of suffering, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. When I wasn’t being written off as a hypochondriac by a multitude of doctors (because I appeared to be healthy), I was being treated for anxiety.

At times it was easier to pretend they were right, that nothing was really wrong. Not because I believed them, although self-doubt played a factor, I was becoming too scared to learn the truth. The road of “what if” is a long and dark one no one wants to get lost on.

Truth is, when you suffer from chronic physical or emotional pain, it transcends itself in to the nucleus of your well-being — your mindset. Once you succumb to a negative mindset, you stop growing and worse, give up hope. It’s like giving yourself permission to say, “My life sucks, I feel like crap all the time, so I’m entitled to act accordingly.”

And I did for a while. Until I didn’t.

The best thing I ever did was watch a YouTube video with Eckhart Tolle. His teachings on the power of the present moment for me were life enhancing. I don’t say life changing, because let’s face it, Eckhart didn’t diagnosis my tumor. But he did set me on a new trajectory. One that helped me to take ownership of my thoughts, attitude, and resolve.

I slowly began to open my mind further and listen to other positivity and well-being influencers.

It was time to settle for more.

I learned that the more I practiced staying in the moment, the less I allowed my suffering to control my mindset. It was difficult enough dealing with the physical effects of an unknown illness, once I gained more control over my emotional well-being, I was able to tap into a lot more strength than I was giving myself credit.

You May Still Feel Like….

So if you’re looking for that place where what you feel no longer controls who you are, then it’s critical to practice inhabiting the present moment. Not, “life was so much better last year at this time,” and not, “I dread what’s in store for me tomorrow.”

Just. The. Now.

Becoming an expert present moment liver doesn’t happen overnight. (Okay or maybe not at all.) But to benefit from it, you must commit to practice. I do promise that with a heightened level of awareness, you will become better and better at it…and more positive.

Are you entitled to feel any way you chose? Sure, of course you are. However, the goal is to rest in the knowledge that negative thinking will not move you forward. It doesn’t solve a damn thing, except add more drama to life. If you can accept this as fact, then you will empower yourself with the great force of staying positive.

There are many ways to stay present and positive when you feel like you’re being relentlessly tested. It’s not a one-size fits all technique, so keep dipping your feet in to one or more streams until you find which works best for you!

Here are some widely suggested ideas to explore and help you tap into a positive and empowered mindset when you need it most:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Self-Help Books, Podcasts, Videos
  • Empowering Mantras/Affirmations
  • Nature Walks
  • Exercise
  • Healthy Diet


#MindsetIsEverything is Really a Thing

Pick and chose activities above or not above that resonate with you. Just know that with any strategies, a proactive, growthmindset is everything. So here is my best advice to always keep in mind as you work hard maintain a positive outlook (because I know it’s not easy):

  • Stop carrying the burden alone: Find your courage to ask for help. You’d be surprised how many people in your life don’t offer it but really want to. Maybe they fear you’ll feel inadequate or insulted. Maybe they just don’t know what you specifically need. Tell them. By reaching out, you will allow others the gift of giving support and friendship.
  • Know you’re not an expert: So if you need one, get one. No one has all of the answers but there are plenty of people out there with the tools and knowledge to help you cope and navigate through your journey.
  • It’s okay to not be okay:Be gentle with yourself. Gift yourself with the compassion you deserve. This peace of mind will help you open a new space for things that will serve you so much better than negativity.
  • Be teachable: Again, since we agree we are not experts at everything, make room for those who can help you nurture your strengths and grow in ways you never thought possible. You were born capable.
  • Help others: Studies show that volunteering in some form is beneficial in a variety of ways. Making a difference in someone else’s life raises confidence, improves physical and mental health, allows you reflect on what matters — these are to just name a few.


Staying Positive Is A Labor of Love

I was lucky. Eventually I found a doctor that connected with my determination. She listened, did some research and kept digging (and testing) on her hunch that I had a pheochromocytoma. Even my doctor’s superior advised her to discontinue testing — “it’s so rare, the odds are so slim.”

The tumor left me with one less adrenal gland, and gave me some physical and a few emotional scars. Yet without meaning to sound cliché, it also sparked a forward moving journey of self-discovery, some grit and a fresh perspective.


A Positive Pursuit

The most critical thing you can do is to continually work on self-awareness. By the way, that goes for when things are pretty damn good too. Don’t underestimate the value of self-awareness in your happiest moments. Those can be the most rewarding.

Do your best to recognize when you are drifting into a negative mindset. Consider the power and influence of wallowing in negative thinking; turn that attention over to self-care and positivity. Do this and you take back your life.

While a positive mindset may not eliminate feeling like crap all of the time, it is the only thing you can control. So once you grab hold of it, don’t let go.

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Maggie DiPalma  |  Contribution: 120