Have you ever felt lousy about yourself, thinking you are a worthless person and your life is a joke? To some degree, most of us have experienced this feeling, and everyone will agree that it is not a desirable state to be in. Self-deprecating thoughts begin gaining momentum and slowly turn into self-condemnation and then hopelessness. But you may remember that just yesterday, you were flying high, feeling like a superstar, generating brilliant ideas, and having rock-solid confidence about everything in your life. You try to fight your current cloud of negativity, but it sucks you in even deeper, tangles you up tighter in your own misery. You make another and another feeble attempt to uplift yourself, but all in vain. Eventually, you give up your fruitless endeavors to get back in the saddle and accept that you are not as self-assured and fearless as you thought of yourself yesterday. Perhaps, it was all just a mirage, a temporary high, and being pitiful, is who you naturally are.
The bad news is, this kind of thinking causes destruction in your mental, physical, and spiritual health. The good news is, you are wrong thinking that negativity is your natural state because the opposite of it is true. Feeling good and empowered is who you naturally are and not this grievous person described above. The bad news is, you cannot instantly go from crawling to running again. The good news is, you can get to running again, but you need to implement a particular technique. If I got you puzzled with what I just said, please allow me to explain by providing the following examples. When you are running in one direction, can you instantly turn around 180 degrees and start running in the opposite direction? Probably not. At the least, you need a couple of seconds to slow down or come to a complete stop to switch gears. What if you are mad at someone? Can you make yourself instantly adore them again as nothing has happened? Doubtful, right? Unless you fake it, but inside there is still going to be a lingering feeling of anger of disappointment. We need at least a few minutes for our thoughts and feelings about the other person to settle in before we resume our amicable attitude towards them. Lastly, when you try to enter a freeway, can you merge into the traffic that's going 80 MPH while you are going 30 MPH? No, you can't. That's why there are entrance ramps installed on freeways for drivers to analyze the surroundings, gain the speed to match the traffic, and blend in comfortably without causing an accident. There is a layover period in all three examples, the time for you to transform from one direction to another, from feeling mad to appreciating someone, and from driving slowly to driving fast. The same principle applies when you feel worthless about yourself: you need a RAMP to bring yourself up to speed and feel great again. In this case, RAMP is an acronym for a four-step technique that will help you to turn your self-pity into a self-sufficient being. The letter R stands for realizing you are experiencing undesirable feelings, A – acknowledging or admitting that you will need some time and space to get back to normal, M represents mindfulness, and P is for praising yourself.
The analogy of an entrance ramp came to me while driving from DC to FL. The entire trip, I had to switch from one highway to another. Every time I did, I would think about my personal transition, my move from one city to another. Feeling slightly nervous about such an important change in my life and bored from driving for 16 hours, I decided to entertain myself by playing a little game. Every time I had to merge into a new freeway, I would proclaim: “And just as easy, I am now merging into my new life.” Swoosh, and I am in! After deliberating and polishing this concept, I am now very excited to present it to you, my dear reader. So, let’s discuss each step of RAMPing in more detail.
1) Realize that you have crossed the threshold of negativity as early as you can. Become conscious about your current feeling of worthlessness and that this is not what you wish to experience moving forward. This step may seem arbitrary or irrelevant at first, but, in truth, it is a critical one because we often do not notice how we gradually slide down into the pit. The earlier you realize your inclination towards the blue, the sooner you can reverse it and get back to feeling worthy again. Also, it is crucial to mention that no matter when you incorporate the first step of RAMP, you must abstain from beating yourself up for feeling bad. Be nice to yourself. So, you realize your gloominess, now move to step two without spending much time contemplating why you have become unhappy.
2) Acknowledge that it takes time to get up again. Admit that you will not be able to return to your natural happy state right away. Cross over your ego or victimhood and Accept that you will be changing directions and there will be a layover between your flights. Stop the urge to speed up or skip the process because it may harm you in the long run. Have you ever seen a fly desperately beating against a glass window trying to get out? If this fly could just calm down for a moment and take a step back, it would notice an open window a few feet away from the place it's been slamming its head against. Don't be like that fly. Step aside from that window and proceed to step three.
3) Mindfulness, darling. Bring awareness to the present moment, neutralize the chaos inside your head, release any physical or mental tension, listen to your breath, distance from your thoughts and begin observing them from afar, and step out of negativity as it is not a part of you. Deescalate any disparaging or derogatory thoughts that may be cruising through your mind. Meditate, dance, take a nap, go for a walk, take a shower, jump in a jacuzzi, hug yourself... Make your head empty and give yourself the luxury of experiencing complete nothingness for a few moments, appreciating the cathartic qualities of just being present. Now it's time to move to step four.
4) Praise – in this state of neutrality, begin gently praising yourself for completing the first three steps. Tell yourself that you are Proud of yourself (proud - another word with which you can associate this step). Now, you can begin incorporating all other tactics, such as affirmations or visualizations. Feel the momentum of self-worth building up and getting stronger, but remember not to bite off more than you can chew because you might fall again. Stay tuned to your internal responses, and don’t be mad at yourself if you may require more time to recover. This is not a race. Praise yourself for everything you have accomplished, for your desire to build a better life, for continuously improving yourself and advancing in life. Pat yourself on the shoulder for having experienced setbacks and being well-equipped to pull yourself up. This is the step of shameless self-love and self-empowerment.
Although this may seem like a long and complicated process, after applying this technique a few times, you will be able to complete all four steps in just a few minutes. The key here is to, first, catch yourself drifting into negativity early enough, and second, prevent any self-deprecation. Remember that the true indicator of self-worth is not feeling great all the time, but rather resilience, your ability to return to your natural state of feeling worthy in the most efficient manner. Also, every time you fall down, you come back up with new knowledge and understanding about yourself and others.
With love and appreciation, Natalia The Happiness Expert, PGC.