I Need To….

Last week, I briefly explained something that I want to walk through in more detail with you now. I started a thought by saying, “here’s what I need to do.” I immediately realized I was contradicting myself from a conversation that I had had just a few days before writing that post. I am starting to feel very strongly about the way we as a collective use the word need.

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Episode 28: I Need To…

Failing Imperfectly
Failing Imperfectly
Episode 28: I Need To...
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I’ve recently realized that I and so many of you, overuse the word need. I am talking about how I see the difference in these two words.

Why is it so Hard?

Before I get started, get your mind out of the gutter! 

In all seriousness, why do we make things seem as if they are so difficult? Well, because they are! Duh!! 

Actually, no, they aren’t. They can be anything you want them to be. In my case for this episode, I’m going to talk about work and life in general. Now, I know that there are genuinely some problematic aspects to life; I’m not denying that. What I am referring to are the things that we can control and how we react to everything in life.

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Episode 19: Why is it so Hard?

Failing Imperfectly
Failing Imperfectly
Episode 19: Why is it so Hard?
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Why is life so difficult? Why can’t we just get a break? There are things about life that we cannot help, but there are so many that we can. I’ll tell you how I am working to overcome my mindset about the difficulties in life.

Why Am I Stressed?

I have been asking myself this a lot lately and haven’t been able to put my finger on a specific answer. Then I get more stressed because I can’t figure it out. Stress is a vicious cycle for me that comes out towards others. Stress is a battle I have fought all of my life and will continue to fight every single day. For me, stress is like bad heartburn that never leaves.

But it isn’t just stress. My stress enables and exaggerates my anxiety. When I’m stressed, I snap about things that aren’t perfect or my anxiety about what might go wrong or who I’m offending is quick to escalate. A lot of people say “get over it, just relax” and I wish I could. I fight every single day trying to figure out how to just chill out. I watch other people act like they have absolutely no care in the world and I am almost envious of how easy it is for them. At least it looks easy from my point of view.

Right now, as I’m writing this, why am I stressed? I can’t nail down one specific thing. I feel like it is a smattering of multiple triggers that keep compounding on each other.

Seeing that we are coming out of quarantine, you might think it is because we can’t go anywhere. Nope, I am LOVING staying home. I am an introvert who likes my freedom at home. I mean, I do like to travel, but as I turn internal and search, not traveling is not even bubbling as a potential trigger. But I think I might have just identified one thing from a previous sentence. “My freedom at home.” I haven’t had my freedom at home because I’ve had house guests for over a month. Maybe this is one of my triggers. This introvert hasn’t had her space or things exactly as she wants them in her house so she is triggered.

I did tell Eddie the other day that I am over-peopled. You know, it’s an extension of being over-stimulated but because people have been around too much. I can kick Eddie to the basement or outside or even to a friends’. I can’t boot house guests. It’s not like I don’t like these people, hell, I even love them. I think I’m just coming to a realization that I can only tolerate extra people for so long and then I need space. This may sound rude to the house guests, but it isn’t. It is a personality and self-care acknowledgement. I’m not going to boot my house guests at all. I will just space them out a bit further next time they might be here one right after the other.

Work has been so busy that it is definitely a stressor. I feel like I haven’t been able to get anything accomplished even though I have. I know this is one of my stress and anxiety triggers so I am making sure to disconnect and not review every email that comes in after I’ve logged out for the day.

Why am I stressed? I think I found a couple of reasons, but I think there are more. For me there usually are.

While yes, stress is a bad thing for us, we can’t always prevent it. We must work through it and keep going. Or take a break and fully disconnect. Both are necessary, but sometimes only one is possible. The most important thing about being stressed is to work on not living in that stressed feeling. If we can do a little work and a little more to overcome the stress, we will get through it. The day that we live fully in the stress is the day that we start shutting the door to coming out of the stressed mode. Don’t live there. It won’t do you any good.

How do I get unstressed? It depends on what is happening in life. Right now, I am breathing through every moment that I feel the stress coming on and taking over. If I miss the onset, I apologize for the flip out I just had and reflect on how I could have identified it without demeaning myself. I also try to remove the direct stressor or something else to allow more room for whatever is going on. Crying helps too. Let it all out.

Life can be stressful. Life can be beautiful. My life does not exist without both the stress and the beauty. I choose each day to work past the stress to see the beautiful life that I have created.

Clarity

According to a Google search, clarity is defined as the quality of being coherent and intelligible. But what does clarity really mean? In my opinion, that may be different depending on who you ask.

Today, clarity might mean something completely different to me than it did a month ago or will in a year. Either way, clarity is something I know I’ve been striving to achieve for a really long time. The thought was that clarity would give me peace and direction in my life. I just needed to achieve clarity to get where I wanted to go.

Today, I feel that I was wrong in that assumption. Today, clarity means something different. Today, I feel as though I have a slice of clarity as I’m coming out of an episode of stress and a bit of depression. My slice of clarity comes from reflecting on what my triggers were over the past few weeks and what caused me the most pain during that time. I shared a little of it with you in my last post Embarrassed.

My triggers tend to always lead to one overarching topic – my past. I have given and continue to give complete control over my life to my past. It is defeating and limiting. It is stressful and depressing. It holds me back.

Today, as I’m writing this, I feel like I’m finally understanding what I need to do to have more clarity in life. I need to stop giving my past so much power over me. But how? Haven’t I come to this conclusion before? Probably. And I might come to it many times over before something finally changes. That is part of growth.

Everything that I’ve been struggling with in the past few weeks has roots in my past. Some people would say just get over it. Some would say that our past defines us. I want to just get over it, but every time I try that approach, I end up right here. My past has defined me for my entire life. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of giving my past complete control over my life. I want clarity to mean that I can identify when my past is triggering me, work through it, and come out of the trigger before ever hitting the stressed or slightly depressed point.

The definition I want clarity to mean to me is that I am clear on my triggers, clear on my steps to overcome them, and clear on my goals and direction in life.

To get to that definition, I have to take steps everyday to release the power that my past has over me. I have to acknowledge my fears and address them.

What does clarity mean to you?

Inconvenience

What does inconvenience mean to you? Is it about things? Or time? Or ….. you?

Whaaaattt did she just say?

Have you ever felt like you are an inconvenience?

No? It’s just me? Okay…

Well, I want to talk to you about it anyway. A lot of women feel like they are an inconvenience for just about everything. Sometimes we can go days or weeks without the feeling, other times it doesn’t feel like we can’t go minutes without feeling like our existence is an inconvenience.

I’m not early? I’m so sorry I inconvenienced you.

Will you please help me pick that up? Thank you, I’m so sorry for inconviencing you.

No, I’ll be just fine after surgery without extra help. Silently thinking “I don’t want to inconvenience you by letting you help us”.

Why? Why do we feel this way? Chances are it stems from our childhood. There can be many situations we encountered as kids that made us feel this way. Mine, well I was always the child who got in trouble for everything. And my parents relied on absolutely everybody else to take care of them.

Fast forward to me living on my own and going through shit adult life throws at me, and here comes the inconvenience feeling. Over and over again. The most impactful, most recent instance is coupled with my upcoming surgery.

My mother-in-law said she would come help us. I said okay. We went about life and I went through the scheduling process and she planned to help my sister-in-law with the kids during that time. I read the text as she was conflicted so I responded that we would be perfectly fine and not to worry.

Well, her original plan changed for that time, and I felt less than. I did it to myself. She probably felt I didn’t want her around for my surgery when it is the complete opposite. I don’t want to be an inconvenience. I don’t want her to miss on time with her grandkids to sit here and help me get food or pick something up or walk to the bathroom or shower. I don’t want to steal time from her. I also don’t want to rely on anybody for help.

I am a serial avoider of inconveniencing or relying on other people. It makes me feel so, so fucking horrible inside.

Sound similar?

How do we overcome it?

By letting people help. It doesn’t have to be big gestures to start. Something small. Let someone bring a dish the next time you invite them. Let someone help setup chairs for a BBQ. Let someone cook instead of you. Ask for someone to grab you a beverage. Little things can get us used to the feeling. Little things can chip at the wall we have built.

My little thing? I let my husband set the egg plate down for BOTH dogs yesterday. When I fry eggs for breakfast, I always make the dogs one each. We give the eggs to the dogs after we finish our breakfast. We put the dogs plate on the floor, but we go through the sit and stay process to try to teach them manners. I get Chloe and my husband gets Radar. Eddie has offered to take both dogs for many weeks and I keep saying no.

Yesterday I let him. And it killed me. Today I asked him to de-tail the shrimp at the sink so I didn’t have to stand that long.

Inch by inch. That is the only way I can heal and learn how to let others do for me.

When others offer to help or when we occasionly ask for assistance, we aren’t sucking the life out of others. Most of the time, they probably don’t even notice. We only notice because of our fears and anxieties that we haven’t grown through.

To be able to grow, we need to challenge ourselves. I don’t believe there is any such thing that will heal us instantly as if a switch is flipped and we lose our fears and anxieties. I don’t think every method to overcome them works for every person. What I do think is that the only way we will heal is to try. Sometimes trying hurts. That’s okay, try again another time.

In my case, I fear relying on people and being an inconvenience, but I also fear losing those same people. Pushing them away.

Competing fears makes healing more difficult. But with determination and time, with trying different methods, it can be done.

You are not an inconvenience. I am not an inconvenience. We are human and humans need each other. There is a fine line of accepting graciously and abusing kindness of others. Why stay in the dark and push people away when we can accept love?

Day 1: Me

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I haven’t been feeling myself for a while. I feel as though I’ve completely regressed in all the work that I did to improve my mental health. Looking back, I think this happened over the period of more than a year with many different events triggering further setback. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed, but I would say my stress and anxiety are at an all time high. This became most evident during this Christmas break on our annual trip to be with my husband’s family. One event with two comments set my mood for the entire trip. To be fair, I was in my hormonal swing with my period imminent.

After two days of seclusion and rest (thank you Eddie for being sick)….

Today is Day one. Day one to taking back myself. Day one to becoming the woman I know I can be. Day one to overcoming stress and anxiety for fun and ease. Day one of the rest of my life.

I don’t have all the answers or a clearly defined plan. What I do have is the desire and courage to say I am going to experiment and move through this. I am going to be me. I am me.

It isn’t going to be easy, nothing is. I have to make some serious changes in my life to focus on me again. First thing I’m going to do is drastically reduce the amount of time I spend watching TV. Second thing is getting my nutrition back in check. Third, I am going to spend time every single day working on me.

Today didn’t start off the best. I woke up stressed. I have no idea why. Once I realized I was already stressed for the day, I actually got to thinking back and realized this is how I’ve started every day for as long as I can recall in the past few months. Stressed. Wake up stressed. Go to bed stressed.

So, I started this morning by getting ready early. I have no commitments until this evening, but I am committing to myself to get ready and feel good. I put on relaxing instrumental music. I cleared thought from my brain and just listened while I showered. I wouldn’t let myself feel. I wanted to just exist in the relaxation. It actually helped. To take it even further, while I was getting ready, I picked an episode from the Anxiety Coaches Podcast that I thought was relevant. I truly believe there is something in the universe that guides us when we need it most and this was one of those moments.

Gina, the host, focused on the work of Dr. Sarno and Steve Ozanich relating to TMS and anxiety. The part that stuck out to me the most and what prompted me to listen to the podcast twice, was this:

“Thinking has replaced feeling. So they become thinkers so they can’t be hurt by their feelings. Thinking has become their coping mechanism.”

I didn’t write down the comment exactly, but as it struck me. They were referring to those who have anxiety so that is the definition of ‘they’ and ‘their’ in the paraphrased sentences above.

I am one of those that is being described. All I do anymore is think. I think that I’m feeling, but after listening to the podcast, I really don’t think I have felt anything in a while. As I look back, I believe that I have been thinking emotion as it relates to situations. I haven’t actually been thinking through how the situations truly affect me, I just think a quick response and go there. I try to apply only logic to EVERYTHING. I put myself into a position where I couldn’t be and wasn’t fun because in my thought process, everything had to follow a strict logic. That logic in my mind was things being perfect or along a black and white line. Everything I encountered had this flawed logic applied.

No wonder I have been eternally stressed. I was applying flawed thinking to my life rather than living in the moment or in the feeling.

Today is day one that I am attempting to pull myself out of my head and into my life. I am working to pull myself out of the fear that I am and never will be good enough to be part of Eddie’s family. I am pulling myself out of the fear that if I actually shared with my family or friends things in my life, I am a burden to them. I am pulling myself out of the fear that if I share with family or friends, they will think less of me or judge me. I am pulling myself out of the fear that if I say anything to anybody, they will go talk shit with others and prevent others from wanting to actually get to know me. I am pulling myself out of the fear that I am not worth being loved.

I know some of you will read this and think ‘holy shit this girl has got problems’. Yeah, yeah I do. They are from a lifetime of stress and anxiety telling me false stories that I believe. It is easier to believe what our mind tells us as it is trying to protect us from subconscious fears. It is easier to hide in our thoughts more than in real life.

But today is day one. I am taking back my life from my subconscious and I am going to live my best life. I am going to put the work in. I am going to move through this.

I am willing…

…or am I unwilling.

At some point in our lives we either feel that we are or we actually are stuck. Stuck in a job, stuck in a relationship, or just plain stuck with life. I actually feel that way right now with debt and my overall happiness (independent of each other). These are circumstances of my life. Circumstances that I am either defending or changing.

So, am I defending them, or am I changing them?

Am I willing or unwilling?

“You have the life you’re willing to put up with.” – Gary John Bishop

Let’s talk about debt for a minute. Debt plagues most of us and it has become the American way of life. I turned to using debt because I wanted to get ahead of my poor upbringing. I wanted things NOW, not after I saved for them. Then I got a hold on that and was laid off. It took three months to get a job again and just kept living the same life, this time paying for everything on credit. Credit cards take a really long time to pay off. But there is something I can do to fix this circumstance.

Am I willing or unwilling?

Now let’s talk about my happiness. I’m not overall unhappy with life, but I know there is much more happiness out there for me. I struggle with allowing myself to be happy and to experience happiness without stressing about something. Something we are doing, somebody we are with, something. I am hyper aware of everything going on and what I perceive everyone is thinking. I feel it is my duty to take care of everyone else around me. I can fix this circumstance.

Am I willing or unwilling?

“Circumstances don’t make the man; they only reveal him to himself.” – Epictetus

My circumstances don’t actually make who I am, but I make them make who I am. Rather than making my circumstance make who I am, I need to take those circumstances and respond to them differently. The way I respond to my circumstances is who makes me. There is ALWAYS a different response to my circumstances than the one that is keeping me stuck.

Am I willing or unwilling?

The definition on Google of willing is: ready, eager, or prepared to do something.

Am I ready to respond differently to my circumstances?
Am I eager to change how I respond to my circumstance?
Am I prepared to do the hard things?

Most of us will answer these questions with a “yes, but…” kind of answer. As Gary John Bishop states in  Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, “Every time you add the ‘but’ to the end of that statement, you turn yourself into the victim.” I used a slightly different statement, a statement that I tend to use most often, but the thought still holds true. Every time I say “yes, but…”, I am turning myself into the victim with my circumstances. It works the same exact way with more than just the word ‘but’. Every time we try to explain our circumstances with either short or long explanations, we are turning ourselves into the victim.

What if we took our “yes, but….” and our explanations and turned those into different statements. What if we said “I am willing to let a lay off from a job three years ago define my finances now and in the future” or “I am willing to forgo happiness in everything that I do so I can keep stressing.”? Those “I am willing” statements don’t sound like a life I want to live.

Am I willing or unwilling?

Let’s look at the reverse – am I unwilling? Am I unwilling to continue to live in debt? Am I unwilling to allow stress to be my happiness?

Sometimes we can allow our unwillingness to be our fuel instead of our willingness. Accepting our unwillingness to continue something draws a line where we are no longer willing to go back to the same behaviors or circumstances.

“Sometimes recognizing that you willingly put yourself in a place where you are unhappy is often all the impetus required to make an opening for real and lasting change.” – John Gary Bishop

Acceptance that we willingly put ourselves in a circumstance doesn’t mean we are blaming ourselves or that we are making ourselves the victim. It means that we accept where we are and that we don’t want to remain there. It means that we accept it is time to make a change. It means we are either willing or unwilling to do something and that willingness or unwillingness will ignite our eagerness for action.

Am I willing or unwilling?

I am both. I am willing to make the difficult changes in my life. I am unwilling to stay in debt or to allow my stress to rule my life. Is it going to be easy? Oh fuck no. Is it going to change overnight? Ha, if only. Is it going to be worth it? Absolutely!!

What am I going to do to change my circumstances?

I am willing to change my spending habits.
I am willing to postpone buying things until debt is paid off.
I am willing to say no to activities that are over my budget.
I am unwilling to remain stuck in debt.

I am willing to grow personally.
I am willing to open my heart and mind to new possibilities.
I am willing to change my views. (I almost typed: I am willing to change my skewed views, but that just puts blame on my circumstance and I’m changing that damn habit. This. Is. Going. To. Be. Work)
I am unwilling to stay a stressed mess and miss happiness everywhere I go.

I am willing and unwilling.