I remember a long time ago way back in the 1980s when shirts with logos were very fashionable. The two most popular were “Frankie says Relax” and “Choose Life” which was a powerful anti-drug message promoted by the band Wham.
I sometimes feel as if when we’re going through the day-to-day struggles of normal life we are wearing a very similar but rather more unhelpful t-shirt. It is as if we walk around in public with a T-shirt that has our negative, unhelpful emotion printed on the front while on the back is the corresponding dysfunctional thought connected with that emotion.
And so we walk through our world and our environment with our emotions and thoughts on public display. Now, we all know the saying about wearing your heart on your sleeve but surely this is taking things just a little too far. I’m not for a moment suggesting that we should stifle or suppress our emotions as we all know that is not a useful long-term coping strategy.
In the cold light of day, it seems ridiculous and absurd to think and believe that other people can know our innermost thoughts and feelings. And yet that is sometimes how we behave.
As we walk through the world with these t-shirts on and we believe that the message says something more about us than is necessary. Perhaps it may say “I am weak”, “I’m helpless” or” I am not good enough” or a variety of other unhelpful statements about our self-image or identity.
Trying to fight constantly with negative thoughts and emotions can be a futile and never-ending task. A different approach could be to accept that these negative emotions are just part of being human, wonderfully imperfect and authentic.
So the next time you find yourself walking about wearing one of these t-shirts remember that the ink is not permanent. It is just like a stain and you can put that t-shirt in the washing machine and it will come out a fresh blank slate. And when you do that you can perhaps write a new logo on that T-shirt a positive life-enhancing emotion on the front and a positive affirmation on the back.
What t-shirt will you decide to wear, and what life will you choose tomorrow?