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.

Thoughts About Family

I’ve seen so many quotes that say things like “family is everything” or “blood is thicker than water.” These are all over social media and people use them in everyday conversation. The underlying theme is that, no matter what, family sticks together.

I wish life was as simple as that. For some families, it is. For mine, it is not. If I were to stick with my family no matter what, I would not be where I am today. I would be living a much different life supporting people who only take from others or supporting everything the drug addicts do. If family was the only thing that mattered in life, my life would be miserable and depressing.

The thing about family is you can’t choose who your blood family is, but you can choose who you consider family. Blood may literally be thicker than water, but familial blood does not have to rule your life. Your life is yours to live.

I choose to associate and keep close quite a bit of my family. I used to force relationships with more of my family but got tired of being the only one who put effort into those relationships. Keeping family close means different things for all of them. It depends on the relationship. It depends on their efforts as well as mine. Relationships are a two-way street.

I have family I would give a chance to have a relationship once they turn 18 and can make decisions for themselves. I have family that will never have a chance to come back into my life. That sounds harsh, but it is my reality. I choose not to support those who keep taking more and more from me or those who abuse drugs and emotionally abuse those who take care of him.

That brings me to my father. I don’t even like calling him that. It feels dirty. It feels wrong. I could use sperm donor, I think that is from a movie, but I can’t think which one. But I’ll call him dumbass because that is what he is. Dumbass has been a drug addict most of my life. It has escalated year after year. More and more drugs. From meth to opioids, he is or has been on all of them. Well, dumbass broke his ankle, got home from the hospital and then overdosed on what he had in stock. If my grandmother had not called my sister worried because he wouldn’t answer the phone, he would have been there on his own and may have possibly died. How do I feel about that? He died to me many years ago. There is no feeling left there except for disgust and annoyance. Today I am more frustrated that he keeps manipulating my grandmother to pay for things that allow him to be home and continue using drugs. Dumbass text me two days late for my birthday and included the typical poor me message. First, he got my phone number from my grandmother’s phone without my permission and has sent harassing messages a few times since. Second, this is the first birthday in over 10 years that he even bothered to try to get a hold of me. Selfish. He is extremely selfish.

Recently, one of my friend’s lost her dad due to health complications. I was more devastated about his death that I would have been for dumbass’. Her dad was a good dad. He was loving and funny and a guy I enjoyed being around. I can’t imagine not hearing his jokes and voice ever again. He was more to me than I ever thought. It sucks that death brought those feelings. I already miss him and it’s been years since I saw him.

Family is not just comprised of those who you share blood with. Family doesn’t have to be people you see or talk to frequently. In my opinion, family is a connection that can’t be explained. My family is comprised of more than just my blood relatives and I will do anything for that family.

Special

I just want to feel special.

Ever had that feeling? No? Are you sure?

I thought I was above that kind of need. I didn’t want to be a person who needed to feel special. I saw those people as being self-centered.

Until I started doing self-care and personal growth. Then I realized that it is okay to want to feel special. In fact, feeling special is such a good feeling that not many people get to experience.

By now, if you have read any number of my other posts, you might recognize that I wasn’t really ever made to feel special growing up. I grew to believe that I didn’t deserve it. (See What We Deserve) I made events like my wedding about everybody else. I didn’t even demand to have much for myself, it was all to make sure everybody enjoyed the day and everybody else was taken care of. Oh and things went according to schedule. I truly regret this about my wedding. But I didn’t know any better.

It is only within the past few weeks that I have started to allow myself to desire feeling special. So I thought. Well, at least in conversations with my husband. But during my meditation this morning, I realized that I was holding onto a past dream because of the feelings of being special I have wrapped around it.

I have been holding onto the feeling of getting pregnant and the baby shower that is all about me and the baby. I have been holding onto the dream of feeling a baby move within me while having people be interested in me without there being some health issue that I’m working through. I’ve been holding onto what I deemed the love that I would finally get because I got pregnant.

I wanted to feel special and in my subconscious, getting pregnant would give me those feelings.

I don’t have to get pregnant to be special. I’m not going to get pregnant just to feel special. That doesn’t work anyways.

I just have to treat myself as though I am special. I cannot expect anybody else to do it for me. To feel special, I have to start treating myself that way.

I want to feel special and I am going to treat myself as though I am.

Your Thoughts Will Run or Ruin Your Life

Once you can see your thought you can start to change them.

 

I have lived within my thoughts all of my life. My thoughts ran and at some points, ruined my life. We have been programmed without even knowing it and that programming turns into our thoughts, both unconscious and conscious. These thoughts are what contributes to how we act, our anxiety, our depression, and what we pursue.

Kara Loewentheil teaches about thought work and how to differentiate your conscious from unconscious thoughts while being able to release their hold on us. From her, I have learned how to take a step back and really review the thoughts that are hurting me.

Kara recommends taking time each day to simply write, with or without intention. When you write out the thoughts that are stuck in your head, you get to see them on paper where you can review and analyze them. When the thoughts are stuck in your head, analysis isn’t as easy. The process of getting our thoughts onto paper and analyzing them gives us a degree of separation. When we are observing our thoughts purely in our mind, there is no separation.  When we put them onto paper, we are able to separate our thoughts from ourselves.

Kara said, ” Your brain doesn’t know how to stop thinking something. You have to give it something else to think instead.”

By putting our thoughts on paper and then analyzing them, we are able to give our brain a different perspective to think about. We are able to use the analytical part of our brain on the thought rather than just the emotional part. The ability to analyze our thoughts isn’t something that comes easily. This is a practice we must adopt.

After I listened to a training and a few podcasts from Kara, I implemented a half-ass version of her recommendations. Even with doing my half-assed version, I have been able to process my thoughts better and analyze why I’m so pissed off or hurt about situations. I have been able to identify that some situations that I’m ruminating over are really not about me at all. I was able to realize that the lay-off I went through had nothing to do with me. Nothing. It wasn’t a reflection on my efforts in my role at all. I’ve been able to look back and see thoughts that were negative and harming me and where they were coming from.

To be honest, I haven’t done my thought work daily and that’s okay. I do sit down to work on my thoughts any time I have an overwhelming or negative thought. I make sure that if I am hurt or pissed off about something, I do at least my half-assed version. Why? Because if I don’t, those thoughts will run my day or my life and may even ruin a good thing.

I’m not perfect in my thought work and I still have a lot of work to do. What I can tell you is that this practice is worth it and just might change your life or release some of that anxiety you are feeling.

Here are a couple of Kara’s recommended steps and questions to use.

Steps:
1. Set a daily time on your calendar for 5 minutes (Yup, all she recommends to start with is 5 minutes!!)
2. Just write until the 5-minute timer goes off.

Questions to use:
1. When did the thought occur?
2. What was happening?
3. What is the exact thought I’m having right now about this?

Kara recommends getting concrete and specific. I recommend adding another question to ask: Is this thought coming from a place of fear? If so, what is the underlying fear?

When doing thought work, you will start to get really familiar with what your negative thoughts are and where they are coming from. This will give you specific areas that you can work on through your personal growth journey. By doing this thought work, you will be able to realize what thoughts are holding you back from releasing the anxiety you are experiencing.

One last question to ask yourself, “What would it feel like to show up and feel absolutely confident about yourself?”

**You can find out more about Kara Loewenthiel’s teachings on thought work at her website or on her podcast.  I listen to her podcast through Google Podcasts.

What is the best thing that can happen?

Our immediate reaction to something new is usually “what’s the worst that can happen?” It is ingrained in our culture and everything about our lives to ask what is the worst thing that can happen. It is the glass half empty outlook.

I’m going on a hike by myself, what’s the worst that can happen? Get mauled by a bear, kidnapped, etc.

I’m switching my career, what’s the worst that can happen? Fail at the job, hate it, etc.

I’m starting my own business, what’s the worst that can happen? Crash and burn, lose everything.

Instead of asking, what is the worst that can happen, let’s flip the switch and start asking “what is the best thing that can happen?”

I’m going on a hike by myself, what’s the best that can happen? Time in nature to clear my mind and get amazing pictures. Feeling rejuvenated.

I’m switching my career, what’s the best that can happen? I prosper and find a new passion.

I’m starting my own business, what’s the best that can happen? The business keeps growing and becomes the best thing I’ve ever done.

When we flip the switch and start asking what is the best thing that can happen, we start seeing the good. We allow ourselves to be hopeful and dream. The glass is half full. Maybe it is even a full glass.

When we switch what we are asking ourselves, we change where our focus lies. We go into whatever we are going to do with a positive outlook. We see the possibilities in life.

My husband, bless his heart, lives by the saying “hope for the best, expect the worst.” This is living by only looking at the worst that can happen. It is a very negative mindset. And to me, it is flat out depressing.

If I’m always expecting the worst, I’m going to get the worst. I truly believe that what you focus on is what you receive. If you focus on the worst, you are going to receive the worst.

I am changing my thought process one day at a time. I have historically imagined situations and gone down the “expect the worst” rabbit hole. It creates turmoil within myself with situations and people. It sets me up as though I know a person is going to treat me like shit and the event is going to be hell.

Every single morning as I am getting ready, before I turn on my audiobook, my mind automatically starts building these situations and negative events. It is a habit I’ve had since I was a child that starts without me even realizing it.

The trick is to catch it before the imagined situation gets too out of hand, too stressful, too negative, or too depressing. Most of the time I imagine others mistreating me. Why? I don’t know. I have no fucking idea and I wish I did.

Just this morning I stopped one. I caught it quickly and just said no. I said no over and over again until the thought disappeared. It isn’t easy to do.

I’d like to retrain my brain to start daydreaming of good things. Of my dreams coming true. To start daydreaming about what is the best that can happen. I want my outlook on everything to become “what is the best that can happen?”

How do I do it? Slowly and piece-by-piece. We can’t change how our brain thinks with the snap of our fingers. But we can change our thoughts one thought at a time.

So, ask yourself, what is the best that can happen?

Shame

Yesterday I posted this blurb on Instagram. And now I want to expand on it even further. You see, shame is something that we each deal with differently. We might see some of our shame journey in other people, but it is still different. No matter how different our shame is, we are not in this alone. You are not suffering through shame’s grasp alone. I am not alone in my shame.

Shame. That’s the topic of the coaching session I worked through tonight.

Shame. It’s the biggest issue I’m working through right now.
Shame. It is the first emotion I feel when looking at this video.

There are so many reasons I almost didn’t share this with you. It clearly shows the weight I’ve gained over the past 3+ years between the infertility treatments, traveling for my last job, and my inability to workout with my back/hips; I feel stupid dancing in the office for 30 seconds; and I was only confident for about a quarter of the 30 seconds.

The reason I decided to record myself doing this 30 second warm up to the coaching session is exactly all of that ⬆️. I share with you so many things from my personal growth journey, but I’ve also hidden other things.

Shame. Shame is what tells me I shouldn’t share what I struggle with.

Shame is exactly why I’m sharing it.

Shame keeps this battle raging within me every single day.
I didn’t start Failing Imperfectly because I wanted to hide behind shame. I started it to share my journey so that maybe I can inspire you to dig deep and get into the messy process of taking control of your life.

Shame is what makes me worry who reads this, making me afraid family and friends with think less of me.

Shame keeps so many of us hiding in the shadows. I don’t want to hide anymore. I want to grow to become a confident woman who loves myself for me, including ALL of my flaws, without caring about others’ opinions, spoken or unspoken.

Shame. I will take back my life.

Shame’s grip on me is slowly loosening. I will not give up.

Shame has told me for far too long that I’m not worthy or not good enough because I am different. Shame told me I was shit because I came from a rough childhood. I had no idea that there were others who struggled the same as I did, or very similarly. I was so sheltered in my shame, I was blind.

One thing Rachel Hollis said that really sticks with me is, “What if He made me this way on purpose? What if we need your weird?”.

What if He made me this way on purpose. I had never thought of it that way. I am who I am because I am who He wants me to be. I am my own kind of weird because He made me just the way I am.

Shame told me that who I am is wrong. His love tells me that who I am is who He created me to be.

No matter how many times I hear that, no matter how many times I read those quotes on Pinterest, it never sinks in. Shame overrides it.

I am here to tell you that you can overcome shame. I haven’t done it yet, but I will get there. I have seen it in so many of the coaches and influential women that I follow. I will continue to work on shame for the rest of my life if that is what it takes.

Is shame something you struggle with?

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…

… who I am and that is who I’ll be.

A few years ago I bought Staying Strong by Demi Lovato and her first entry was about finding your own motto. Ever since the day I first read that, I established and clung to the motto “I am who I am and that is who I’ll be.”

I haven’t always lived by that thought, but it has always been at the back of my mind.

At some point in the past couple years, I posted a picture of my air dried hair, with all the waves and frizziness asking if it looked good enough. Someone responded “it is whatever you want it to be. ” This is something I’ve really been telling myself lately.

You see, I get into my thoughts extremely easily and I seriously criticize myself because I want to fit what I think is acceptable to society. I want to be perfect do NOBODY will dislike me or judge me.

At the same time, I’m jealous and envious of people who are who they are and don’t give a damn, and of people who wear whatever they are comfortable in. These are negative, disempowering thoughts that direct how I act.

That’s just the thing, I have lived 99 percent of my life based on my thoughts. My thoughts are run by my subconscious. It is really difficult to have a say in thoughts that are run by something we have little to no control over.

As each of use try to better ourselves, we frequently come across the saying “change your thoughts and you’ll change your life.” I have held onto trying to change my thoughts so I can change my life for years. It has helped some, but there is so much improvement that I still need to do.

While reading Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, I came across the following paragraph:

“You are not your thoughts. You are not defined by what’s inside your head. You are what you do. Your actions.”

Gary John Bishop goes on to share how sidestepping feelings to instead focus and take action provides better results than leaning into the feelings that can just be plain unreliable. Take for instance getting an assignment done at work. If you don’t feel like doing it and you give into those feelings, you procrastinate and leave it until later, impacting other assignments or activities. But if you were to just lean in and get it done, you will have more time later for other things and will probably be less stressed (another feeling).

If we give into feelings or wait for the perfect mood, we are never going to get anything done. We are always going to feel stuck. Our inaction is keeping us there more than our abilities ever will.

By doing, we get done what we need or want to. We are working towards our potential. Not only does doing get our shit done, it actually also changes our thoughts.

Whhhaaaaattttt?!

Stop and think for a minute. Remember the last time you were working on that to do list and you just kept checking off one thing after another? How did you feel? What were your thoughts telling you?

They were probably telling you that you really are a badass. I know that’s how I feel when I am getting shit accomplished.

If we continue with action no matter how or what we feel, our thoughts will start to change. They will start to match our badass action and we will just keep doing.

The key is to fully immerse ourselves into what we are doing and the chatter in our minds will slowly get quieter and quieter.

We have to remember though, that our thoughts can still become our reality at any time. The more negative we think, the more negative we act, and the more negativity we find in our lives.

My life lately is a perfect example of all of this.

Work has been hell. I have been stressed and beaten down. I haven’t taken care of myself or my house. I’ve been grouchy with my husband. My thoughts have controlled my actions. It has gotten to the point that I want out. I want something different.

My actions, or rather inaction, has breed the negativity. I am underpaid for what I’m doing and that feeling of not being appreciated at work has just made it worse. Everything together is adding up. But without action, I can’t change any of it.

This blog also suffers. I want to get on a regular cadence of posting, but I’ve let my feelings run my life. I have so many feelings that I give into rather than taking action.

I can’t grow without making changes. You can’t grow without making changes. We need to control our actions. We need to take action. Without action, we won’t change a thing.

I’m ready to take action, are you?