Last weekend I had an interaction that blindsided me. I wasn’t ready for it and I couldn’t shake the negative feeling that I was left with.
I know that positivity is associated with lower levels of inflammation, and inflammation is what gets MS people into physical problems(http://www.medicaldaily.com/awe-inspiring-moments-lower-inflammation-marker-cytokines-positively-impact-health-328092).
Besides that, it is awful to feel depressed. On the other hand, pretending to not be miserable doesn’t work. I was too bummed out to pretend, anyway.
Instead, I decided to work on the Inmate book I’m co-authoring. Chapter four needs an inspiring story about a shift in someone's life. That’s when I found the story of Shaka.
Shaka spent 19 years in prison for second degree murder. He went from a reputation for tough negativity to someone who KNOWS we can live positive lives—his story sprang me from my funk, and so I am giving it to you (http://unstuckcommunity.tumblr.com /post/57791607469/how-to-break-the-negativity-loop-a-true-story-of).
The former inmate says: “I focus on where I want to go, my thoughts coincide, and my actions get me there.”
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What broke the negativity loop
During his first eight years in prison, Shaka was resentful and violent.
“I fed that negativity every day. Anything could be a trigger. Whenever the officers didn’t help me or I didn’t get mail...I felt like I didn’t have any value.”
He reacted negatively to the any slight from a guard or inmate. “I literally woke up rebellious,” he says.
His reactions landed him in solitary confinement for a total of seven years, once for four and a half years straight.
During his final stay in solitary confinement, he realized he was “tired of myself moping around. I thought, ‘Dude, get yourself together. Man up. Deal with it. Life isn’t over. You can accomplish something.’ ”
So he turned his attention toward books. Stories of people like Nelson Mandela, who overcame huge hardships, began to change him. “[Mandela] was incarcerated for 27 years, and he did it with courage and dignity. Here’s a man who stood up for something. And here I am complaining about some dumb shit that I did,” Shaka says.
His shift was gradual. He read, and reread. He journaled and wrote his own stories. He processed his emotions through writing. His outlook became more positive — AND he was able to influence some of his fellow inmates. This, Shaka believes was critical to his transformation.
“Normally, positive thinking is frowned upon as weak [in prison],” he says. “One of the things that made it more acceptable was when I was negative, I was consistent… so when I started making the shift, I was able to bring more guys along.”
Shaka’s positive MO
During his last nine years in prison, Shaka developed his own approach to making his life better. He worked hard at it — he read every book in the prison library; he wrote on any piece of paper he could find.
He learned to let go of the negative thoughts that put him in a place he didn’t want to be. He learned to replace them with hopes and goals.
From solitary confinement to positivity--
“It’s not the normal trajectory for a former felon,” Shaka says. “But it’s normal for me. I think positively of where I want to be in life. If more people did that, they’d have more positive outcomes.”
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Shaka’s story made my efforts to spring out of a funk very doable. I am printing out his wisdom and putting it on my office wall. Next week I’ll share Shaka’s “Tactics” for positivity…
Till then, wishing you the very best,