It was one sentence the other day that sent my head spinning. Not even a sentence to be exact; it was a gesture and three little words, “Your other arm” during my barre class the other morning.

It was a gentle and subtle reminder from my well-meaning instructor that I had been using the wrong arm for the entire series we just completed – a series I have probably done 50 times since I started taking these classes.

When I started taking barre classes in January, I expected to suck. I’m not super coordinated, I lack rhythm and I have never taken a day of dance in my life. The first month or so, I laughed it off when I found myself doing something totally different than the rest of the class. After all, I was new and trying my hardest to improve. And, as the classes rolled on, I saw improvement and began feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Upon realizing I did an entire series backwards, I should have done just that – laughed it off and switched arms. Applauded myself for taking the morning class before work. But I didn’t. I translated it into the first of many “un”s that I chose to define me last week.

Uncoordinated. Untalented. Unmotivated. Unorganized. Unwanted. Un-needed. Unimportant. Unsuccessful. Undirected. Unvalued. (Yes, I know most of these are not real words – work with me here for the sake of this post.)

I let it snowball. I let the littlest moments manifest into huge, negative thoughts until there wasn’t a thing on Earth that wasn’t going to support what I was telling myself – that I couldn’t do anything right.

For reasons that were completely unrelated, I was down on myself in a big way last week. And, the easiest reaction to negative thoughts is to keep ’em coming. It takes conscious effort to pull yourself out of a maelstrom – and you can’t do that until you tell yourself that you’re done making yourself feel bad.

Because guess what? It’s not fun to feel bad about yourself.

I took a step back and realized how many of these thoughts could be altered with a few simple actions and the perception to back them. When my disorganized head frustrates me, I need to make lists. I need to tackle my to-do list one item at a time. When I feel let down by people, I need to focus on the people who I do matter to – and redirect my energy. I was giving advice to people that I could hardly follow myself.

A decision to change your mindset doesn’t fix everything overnight – it requires commitment and constant work. I envy people who don’t seem to work as hard to be confident and to believe in a positive future. I’m not always going to have all the answers and I’m not going to do everything right all the time.  I just need to remember that the “un”s don’t get me anywhere.

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