When I built a gratitude challenge for my customers this past November I was also partly watching the Squid Games with my husband. It was not the fact I was particularly into the show but rather it shocked me such that I would get caught up in watching pieces of it with him. My comment was usually that the show was sure casting a light on how mean we were as kids but that I was glad there wasn’t massive bloodshed over it back then. I am not sure it would have worked out to well for anyone if this gratitude challenge ended in death of my customers or some other weird punishment if they didn’t do their journal entry listing three things they were grateful for in life. What I did see however was how often we can take seemingly innocent challenges and be painfully brutal to each other in the process of trying to help each other.
Watching this series at least in part helped shaped the customer gratitude challenge because I didn’t want that feeling to be a part of it. The feeling of failure or that someone couldn’t do it so they give up. The feeling that they didn’t stack up against the other participants so why bother. Too often we have that happen in our days where we give up on something because it becomes overwhelming or difficult and we have lots of other things in our day to tend. Maybe we’ll come back to it and maybe we won’t. We tend to say things like it’s just not for us when we see others “winning” at it and we have made no progress. When it comes to improving ourselves through diet and exercise particularly we give up on that all the time because of these things. Yet that was what I was seeking through it, different results for my customers and me. The ability to let them feel they, we, me won at something in hopes it would help us all win at other things including dieting.
I needed it too. Truth be told I built the gratitude challenge for myself at the time. Life has a way of really beating us down at times and as a result my mind goes to those negative thoughts and feelings where everything is just bad luck and I am no good at any of it. Call it a pity party if you like but I find a lot of us live in this space where we see things don’t go our way so we settle into this misery we have. I didn’t like that feeling. Certainly bad things happen, some are devastating and severe some are just mean and spiteful but when we only expect those things that’s all we see. I needed light. I desired that uplifting renewal of hope to give me a chance at breathing beyond surviving. My idea was through a simple gratitude challenge I could gift that to myself and others.
The challenge was simple. Intentionally simple so that no one could fail and if they missed a day of it then they were not eliminated and could still participate. I tried various existing challenges and then devised my own. At the basic level the challenge is to apply 1 drop of Spikenard oil to your big toes each morning and spend three to five minutes listing at least three things you were grateful for, big or small each day for 14 days. I did this for a month trying different variations to see which worked best so I could guide my customers through it. I found that 1 drop Spikenard, 1 drop Holy Basil and 1 drop Blue Tansy worked the best on the big toes. I also found writing my items worked best in the early morning when my home was still asleep. The next step was to take this list and pull it out to reflect on when things became scary, overwhelming, stressful, and crazy in our day.
The idea behind the exercise is that by doing these things when we face something we feel calmer. We can approach a problem with a different perspective and even find the grace in what it is showing us. Not always of course because some things are emergencies and we need to just respond but most of the time we build up our own emergencies. We bury everything in a litany of busy things that are our own making and then we feel overwhelmed by it. When we approach things from a place of calm center, gratitude and aligned strength the game changes. We change what happens next. The impact to us shifts from victim to warrior.
The little catchy phrases meant to teach us to practice assuming positive intent and to be more optimistic in our life are bullshit. I never found those things work at all when we are wrapped tightly in our own negativizes as a result of serial things that have gone wrong in our day, week, life. It takes breaking that cycle and rewiring our own mind before those catchy phrases even offer a remote inkling of help. Like dieting, we have to first prepare our body and mind to prevent that diet from being a brutal restrictive hell that is punishing and shocking to our body. The same happens when we are working to reset out outlook for gratitude. Untangling our minds from the wrath of resident Negative Nancy takes time to evict.
The practice of writing down at least three things we are grateful for puts our body and mind into work of recognizing the good in our life. This simple pen to paper act introduces positive energy in both our physical and mental being. Using Spikenard, Holy Basil and Blue Tansy on our big toes enhances that reflection and opens us to inspiring things that further uplift us. Practicing gratitude becomes a whole being experience. When we only practice gratitude in our mind we find it easy to discount things in our life that are actually beautiful and meaningful. The little things get overlooked and Negative Nancy is loud at blocking anything good we try to put in our heads.
Including our body in the act of practicing gratitude puts energy behind the good. The essential oils enhance that experience through their benefits of helping us manage stress, rebuild our cells and open our hearts for inspiring action. The idea being when we feel good, we see more good and we do more good. It creates a chain reaction of good across body, mind and spirit. The Squid Games inside this simple gratitude challenge becomes the death of Negative Nancy because there’s no way she can win in this type of game as a result. So I guess in a way I couldn’t completely avoid the carnage but I’d say in this case the good guys definitely win.
The facilitation of the challenge with my customers was beautiful. I had already done the challenge a couple times preparing for this but working alongside my customers through it made it even more beautiful. Being able to spend less than 5 minutes a day doing something so simple and yet profound impacted my body and mind. I found I was calmer in my day even though problems were still all around me. When the challenge ended I continued practicing because I wanted more of the good I was feeling.
In early March I stopped the daily practice to see if I could tell a difference. In less than 2 weeks I started to feel Negative Nancy trying to move in again. The daily problems started to eat at my barrier of good feelings tugging me under once again. This time though I was able to bolt the door better and protect what I had gained. I went back to using the oils on my big toe and writing out my gratitude items daily as extra precaution against her prowess. I definitely saw a difference with her no longer being in the driver seat for how I was feeling about things and I loved feeling more optimistic. The little catchy feel good phrases were still bullshit in my book because I had found my own feeling of what they could not really describe outside these hokey feel good sayings.
Essential oils and a pen with notebook may not be what you call a Squid Game worthy challenge but I daresay Negative Nancy bears a resemblance to those red suit and black mask figures. Stop letting her zap you from participating in the good things in life.
Are you open to learning more? Join one of the upcoming classes hosted by me. Registration is free at dragonspitapothecary.com/book-online