The last year has tested our emotions. How do we accept the new thought processes we’ve developed as we head back out into the world? We caught up with our friend and activist, Lauren Mahon on positivity and being attuned to honesty.
Tell us about you and what you do.
I'm a broadcaster, advocate for women's issues and proud founder of GIRLvsCANCER. Following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, I began sharing the nuances of my experiences on Instagram in a bid to normalise the conversations around cancer and shift the perceptions that come with the label 'cancer patient'. This snowballed into a fully-fledged support and fundraising community. I am also the co-host of multi-award winning BBC 5Live podcast You, Me & The Big C.
Throughout everything you do, you’ve been such an empowering voice for women. Have you always been this way and what motivates you?
I've always been quite gobby and when I feel strongly about something, it generally acts as a tailwind for action. I'm a doer not a talker. I feel everything quite deeply and wear my heart on my forehead so find it hard not to be motivated by the things I care about. I'm quite a creative person and buzz off of finding ways to communicate lived experience in innovative ways.
Let’s talk positivity. What happens when you stop thinking the worst, and how can it help us?
As someone whose anxiety manifests as thought spirals and catastrophising, thinking the worst is my default setting. So flipping the script has been a long process and one of the best tools I now have in my locker. Instead of sitting there thinking what's the worst that can happen, I now think, what's the best that can happen? It makes everything feel lighter somehow. Acting 'as if' something is already happening for us and 'as if' things will be better that we imagined quickly puts paid to limiting beliefs and breaks those negative spirals.
How has the power of positive thinking got you through some of your worst days?
I think it's less about being positive and more about being attuned to be honest. Some days I am in a real messy and negative headspace where my thoughts are just relentless. Instead of trying to make them positive, I listen to what they are saying. If it's nasty things that simply aren't true, I challenge them. I go out for a walk or do some exercise and reframe the thoughts by saying things like "I am open to feeling comfortable in my own skin. I am who I am and I like who I am". I list gratitudes, too. If I'm struggling with something that is out of my control, I take deep breaths and remember to surrender to what is happening because there is no point in worrying over something that you can't do anything about. It's a learned behaviour though because I am a worrier and a half!
How do you think can be we honest with ourselves and others to avoid toxic positivity?
The online world is full of 'flip a switch' affirmations and positive spins but when you are someone who deals with mental health on a daily basis, it can be quite a reductive approach. It puts pressure on people to just 'snap out' of it and that's pretty impossible to do most of the time. The best thing, from my experience, is to know what works for you and be gentle on yourself. Quick fixes are unlikely so make a little self-care plan and slowly chip away at getting yourself into a better space. Talking to others is vital for me to break the anxiety loop. When I say it out loud to someone who I trust, 9 out of 10 times I feel better about things and more able to cope. Things are bigger than they appear when up close, same goes for in your head.
What boosts your confidence or picks you up when you need it most?
My family and friends. Spending time with those I love most is a fail-safe way to make me feel better. They are my anxiety blanket and bringers of joy. Exercise will always sort me out and fills me with energy when I’m dwindling and I'm a big lover of moon ceremonies. I work a lot with moon cycles and rituals which really helps me to stay aligned with what I need and has been invaluable for my mental health. And if all else fails, a good dance around the living room!
Lauren wears: Luna Clean Tulle Bralette in a UK10 and matching High Waist Knicker in a UK12.
Find Lauren here: @iamlaurenmahon