For those of you who know me, you know how I love a good emotionally charged conversation and recently, in a visit with a good friend of mine, I mentioned that I felt more centered currently to just cope, and then I paused, and I asked myself aloud, "I wonder how I actually got to this place of centerdness? What steps did I take?" I looked up at her and she said "You should write those steps down...I'm going to message you right now to do so." This brings me to my first personal, and likely quite vulnerable, blog post.
*[In case you don't read to the end, hear this]* If 2020 is looking daunting to you, please think of you, of what the world would call as 'selfish' and think of what you need to produce change. There are people who love you. Keep holding on. I beg you.
I let go of the stigma that came along with mental health.
Finding a counsellor or therapist that you jive with can be difficult and when you are at an all time low, it can be daunting and overwhelming AF but it's worth it. If you take anything from this, know that taking the time to find someone to talk to is important. We have check-ups at our doctor regarding our physical health but why not our mental health!? It's frustrating to me that we weren't taught this and that it isn't covered in the health system like other doctors. The second thing included in letting go of the stigma, for me, was admitting that I might need something, just for the time, to have clearer thoughts and I was honest with my doctor and asked for a prescription. Now, this can be scary but it can also be a huge weight lifted off of your shoulders. For me, there was a really really low point and I finally came to terms and went to the doctor the next day...and yes, it was scary and yes I felt alone but I can look back and I can feel it all again and know that I've come sooo far since and know that I don't ever want to be there again. In my opinion, it's perception...either there is something 'wrong' with all of us, or nothing 'wrong' with any of us.
I learned how to say No.
We do what we practice and let me tell you, I practiced saying 'yes' A LOT. Saying 'no' can open the door to bigger and better things though and so I learned how to slow down, and even stop, and ask myself 'will that enhance my day, or my life?' I started saying 'yes' to the things that I wanted to do...the things that, in my opinion, were enhancing my life - this will obviously be different to everyone. But I realized there was no room for those 'yes' things unless I cut out the 'no' things. I listened to my gut - if it was ever something I was going to complain about after, then 'no'...if I had to bust my ass to make it happen and it wasn't going to fill me up afterwards, then 'no'...if it took away my time with my kids or time that I could be making money for my business, then 'no'. My 'yes' things became time with my kids, self-care, being with and helping friends, visiting my mom. Listen to your gut and find out what your 'yes' things are.
I rewrote my story that was in my head.
I didn't actually ever know what my story was(in my head)...sometimes it takes some careful processing and remembering. I discovered that I was in fact that person who continued to think that they were 'high-maintenance' and difficult to love, and 'bad'. I could remember hearing stories, growing up, that portrayed me as a difficult child. Also, the information that I received from 'religion' transferred to my brain as a 'problem' individual that had been given grace, of course, that I didn't deserve. I remember saying things about my spouse like 'he is the only one who could ever handle me' and 'if he's still around after knowing as much as he does, he must be the one for me...I won't find anyone else willing to accept me'. I obviously know now that these things aren't true. I learned to let myself dictate my self-worth and I learned to accept a compliment and not just accept it, but take it to heart instead of brush it off. Where did we learn that being 'humble' was not accepting and being proud of our great qualities that we had to offer!? I know I have a lot of people who love & accept me, and I know that I have a lot to offer. When something doesn't align, I consider it, find out where I need to shift and work hard to shift it - we aren't perfect but we don't have to carry on in our lives believing lies about ourselves...we need to love ourselves. Rewrite your story!
I let people in.
No matter how badly I wanted to shut people out, I realized that my kids were my greatest support team and my friends truly cared. I still let them drag me outside every once in awhile. I needed to be reminded that people cared...we all do. And we need to talk sometimes...when I said things aloud to my friends, and counsellor, (and heard myself) was the only time I realized how bizarre some of the things sounded. I know that we can't 'dump' on our friends - be considerate and ask if they are available for us at that moment and then process some things aloud with them.
I started learning again.
We're never too old to learn again, and even change our way of thinking. Why not consider a new perspective? I find that this is not most people's mindset...they are always trying to convince you that their way is right...and maybe it is, but MAYBE it's not right or wrong...maybe it's just DIFFERENT!? I became a sponge - I listened to what others had to say, began to process it, and then read a book or two about it...then I started accumulating books. Once I got back to reading, I couldn't get enough information. [If you aren't a reader, there are soooo many amazing podcasts out there]. I was always told to be careful what, and how much, information I let into my mind and it created a fear in me of new information. When I started reading again, some things resonated and felt good in my soul. You know when you were younger and people would ask 'what does your gut say?' I am pretty sure I ignored that all my life and did what I 'should' do. Listen to your body, what does it say? Is there an area in your life that you might be able to re-adjust?
I left blank space on my calendar and stopped trying to prove my worth.
I was the woman who would feel guilty for working on a painting, or writing a blog post, and would hide the book if someone came into the room. I learned to be 'productive' and if I wasn't productive then really what was I?! I remember learning in one career to color-code my day timer...there was no color for 'see what opportunity presents itself'. You aren't what you do! And people don't love you for what you do...they love you for who you are. Recently I've had the opportunity to say "nothing" when a friend asked what I am doing this weekend :) Eventually it gets filled up, but with a 'yes' thing and not because I'm trying to prove anything to myself or those around me. Don't fill this new blank space of yours with social media....try something new - meditation, physical activity, something creative, connecting with a friend. Your heart will thank you.
Somehow, along the way, I learned that self-care meant self-ish and that word, in our world, has a pretty negative connotation. I grew up with a thought process of 'put others before ourselves' and it lead to an ugly place.
At first, I started taking time to run - when I moved to a new community 8 years ago, some friends taught me that trail running can be a great thing...and some time in the wilderness to think, connect with yourself or with others. Also, sleeping...that is serious self-care :) Reading a book, artwork, writing, having a bath, laying in the sunshine, going to the gym, making yourself lunch...anything that is caring for yourself is good! It does not need to be extravagant pedicures, massages, and trips around the world...just love YOU every day!
Let's talk about social media
I needed a break!!! Not much of what we see on social media is real...don't you always put your best foot forward and only display the great stuff!? So subconsciously this can make us feel like we don't add up or our lives aren't as wonderful. This was not good for my soul...and only at a certain time. Be honest with yourself - is this a time in your life that you can't simply be happy for others and still smile upon your own wonderful life? If so, do a detox and free up some time for you to connect with you...come back when you can honestly say that this social media BS isn't going to have control over you.
On the flip side: Social media can be your positive newsfeed and motivating - we get so bombarded by complaining, negativity, and shit thru most of the other facets of the world so after my social media break, I learned to smile upon the positivity that people were sharing because, really, they are celebrating some of the great in their lives instead of bitching...let's let them do it!
I thought of myself as a third person.
This information was strictly from one of my counsellors and I have used it SO MUCH and have him to thank. He said to me once "What if a friend came to you and said the exact thing that you just said to me?" (seems so simple, right!?) My answer changed drastically and that is when I learned that I judged myself pretty harshly. Now this isn't everyone - you might be judging someone else right now and not looking inward but if you are reading this, and you made it to my last point, I'm guessing you are one of the people who are interested in change and not interested in changing others...you could be judging yourself harshly like I did. I ended up using this over and over to assess my situations. I would never cast judgement on a friend like I was casting it upon myself and it gave me grace for myself. You might need that grace too...to get to a point of Loving You.