Is It Anxiety? Tips and Tricks to Recognize Signs of Anxiety, and To Deal With Them

I have a fairly normal outlook on the world:
-someone’s late coming home …so he must be dead or kidnapped.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she hates me.
-the warning light came on in the car …it will blow up before the next stoplight.
-I feel somewhat sick …yes, Google, it must be cancer.

What? That’s normal, right?

It’s not?

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

This way of thinking has hounded me for most of my life. Not until it exhibited as severe depression from how other people treated me did I know …these thoughts may not be that normal. I also didn’t realize my worries had a name: anxiety. That realization didn’t come to me overnight. It didn’t come from a counselor, although uncovering and treating it did come because of counseling sessions. My learning about anxiety –my anxiety- came after talking with a neighbor.

“I felt like I should save up money for a trip,” I told the neighbor, back in June, “But then it got cancelled because of Coronavirus. So… I guess this means I’m going to get sick and will be hospitalized.” *Sigh*

Without skipping a beat, she responded, “No, that’s called anxiety.”

Initially, I felt shocked and surprised. I then felt denial, since anxiety was not a condition I’d ever considered. Anxiety was for other relatives of mine who had experienced panic attacks or hadn’t been able to sleep with the lights off. Anxiety couldn’t affect me…

Then, the puzzle pieces fit together -answers to my racing and irrational thoughts. I brought these concerns to my video counseling session; my counselor was not as surprised as I had been. I’m just glad she’s as smart and observant as she is.

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

With her help, I learned that many of my panicky thinking is anxiety. I started making a list whenever I worried about a situation. I shared the list with my more-rational husband or a good friend. I learned which voice spoke: me or anxiety. Over time, I could see the differences.

After that, I learned to answer the worries:
-someone’s late coming home …so I’m anxious.
-that person didn’t smile at me …she’s having a bad day.
-the warning light came on in the car …and that light could be anything from needing an oil change to needing more coolant.
-I feel somewhat sick …it’s probably a cold.

Once I could recognize anxieties and stop the rising panic, I was able to formulate solutions. At the very least, I got better at delaying irrational actions and stress. Which, of course, does not mean the anxiety evaporated.

Sometimes, at times of high stress, my tips and tricks do not work. In times like that, I contact my counselor. Sometimes, she suggests anti-anxiety medications. Why? Because anxiety is like other mental illnesses in that I can’t always fight it on my own.

Armed with tricks, encouragement, professional advice, and help when I need it, I’ve found anxiety to be less formidable than before. I’ve found a freedom I didn’t know before. And it’s wonderful.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

©2020 Chel Owens

Houseplants and Mental Health

I have a black thumb. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I kill plants. You’d think, by now, that I’d see the ferns and cacti leaning away from me at the store -but, no. I see a cute pot or arrangement and think, I can grow a plant! Into my cart the poor once-green thing goes, soon to meet its demise like so many before it.

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Isn’t it cute?

My house is full of plants. This is odd, considering my admitting to how often I kill them. People come to my house, look around, and say, “Wow; you must have a green thumb!”

Hiding my black thumbs behind my back I answer, “Why, thank you;” because, as I said, I am not good at raising plants.

At this point, you may be wondering two things:

  1. Why do you have plants if you are bad at caring for them?
  2. Why the heck are we talking about plants? Isn’t this a mental health blog?

The answer is that living with mental illness is an awful lot like maintaining houseplants. Houseplants need a good start so their roots can drain while their soil retains water without drowning them. They need sunlight and regular watering. They even need calming sounds. When I skip or skimp on these things, they suffer.

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Likewise, counseling or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or great genes) helps us deal with challenges and triggers in life. Sunlight gives us Vitamin D and cheers us up. We need water so we don’t die. Calmer songs and sounds help with agitation, depression, panic attacks, and stress. When I skip or skimp on these things, I suffer.

I often tell people I struggle with depression. I tell them I have social anxieties, or generalized ones. I admit to deep, dark thoughts and difficult days.

People -even online people- are surprised. All they see are green, growing plants. They don’t see the dead branches I’ve pulled off, the dead leaves I’ve pruned, or even the millipedes I vacuumed out of the roots*. They can’t feel my sadness, isolation, and occasional thoughts of uselessness and despair.

But, knowing I have mental issues hasn’t stopped me from fighting any more than knowing I have a black thumb has stopped me from buying plants.

Why?

Because there is no perfect plant -besides the plastic ones at IKEA. Every plant has parts that die off. Every one of them has needed soil conditioners or peat moss, or re-potting.

One of my favorite houseplants is this tree, pictured below. I bought it as a tiny, grocery store discount. I’ve watered it, kept it in the sun, and graduated it to larger pots as it outgrew them. At some points, I thought it wouldn’t make it. I even thought to leave it behind when we moved houses.

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Then, I learned better potting techniques. I watered regularly, but not too much. It’s currently taller than I am, and still growing.

Furthermore, do you notice anything about its coloring? The part away from the sun is darker. There are some dead leaves nearer the middle.

Hmmmm.

Some days I want to give up. I see the discolorations in my character and assume others do as well. I think there is something wrong that needs removal or replacement.

Instead, notice how cool the contrast looks. Notice how darkness gives depth to light.

Maybe the ‘problem’ is that I need more sunshine, a better watering routine, or a calmer environment. Maybe the ‘problem’ is needing more space or nutrients. Or, maybe the ‘problem’ is there isn’t one, because everyone has problems.

And so, I will keep trying. I will keep fighting. And the growth that emerges will be the most beautiful and healthy of all.

~~~~~

*True story with a lemon tree we bought

Photo Credits:
Paula Brustur
Lauren Ferstl
And, Chelsea Owens

Growing Confidence

Over the years I have found myself pushed to the back burner by other people. This normally happened when I was interested in a female person. My high school sweetheart, my basic training love interest, my best friend that I fell in love with (even though she was taken). For the longest time I thought that I wasn’t good enough and that’s why I was never their first choice.

But a couple weeks ago something happened and I finally realized that I have worth. I had reconnected with the basic training love interest. I visited, had an awesome time, and expressed that I was interested in trying to build a relationship. They said the same thing. Yet when I got home that didn’t seem to be the case. They wanted time to heal from their relationship that had ended a while ago. Which I could understand… had they not been swiping on dating apps! It was then that something sort of just snapped! I said to this person “I am a motherfucking catch! I’ve got my own home, I’ve got a job, I have goals and I’m earning my degree, and I have kept my kids alive for quite some time.” Then I told them they were to scared to seize the moment and go for what was right in front of them.

So I stepped away from it.

Then I stepped away from the best friend.

Then I told a woman I had been talking to off when she made a comment about wasting her time talking to me if I wasn’t going to facetime. She had never directly asked me to facetime, just made a round about comment. After I told her off she apologized and told me she found it sexy that I was willing to put her in her place. So… now I’m dating someone. Someone who isn’t going to be offended, or pissy, or use what I think or feel against me.

I might not be perfect. I might have mental health issues. But I am still an amazing fucking person! An it’s time I started to see it, believe it, and act like it.

So if you find yourself pushed to the back burner, if you are the side chick/dude, or if they only make time for you when they need you; work on walking away from them. You deserve people who make you a first choice.

Due to recent events, not mentioned here, I had to make my personal page private. I would love if you want to follow me. So comment here or go to my page to request and invite!

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How to Break the Cycle of Abuse Within Your Own Mind

I am really good at not being good to myself.

“Most of your class is smarter than you.” “No one wants to be your friend.” “Of course you didn’t win.”

Throughout my childhood, I taught myself to have no self pride. At all. Despite being decently intelligent and skilled; I could never accept a compliment. If I didn’t win the very best at a contest, the voices inside told me why. If I happened to do well; they reminded me of how many other people were better, or of how there weren’t many competitors.

I’d love to say things have gotten better, but they haven’t.

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“Look, see: that person says she likes that person, but doesn’t even look at you when you’re walking by.” “There you go, dummy; forgetting everything again.” “Well, who would want to be your friend?”

I could blame the internet, exposing me and millions of others TO millions of others. But if I’m being honest, my negative self would be able to beat me up even without bringing the rest of the world into the comparisons.

When I’ve addressed this problem with self-meditation, self-medication (usually chocolate), and the occasional session with a therapist; I …can’t actually address it. I’m so good at not being good to me that I jump right in to sabotage any sort of progress.

Me: “Well, when someone compliments me, I feel like they probably don’t know the whole picture.”

Also Me: Justifying “I’m not that good at cooking/writing/being a friend/etc. That person is just really nice. She tells the off-key 8-year-olds at church that they sang beautifully.”

I’m so good at not being good that I claim my conclusions are LOGICAL. I bring outside evidence to back the negativity up, disguise rudeness as truth, and name-calling as accurate titles.

And I don’t see this as wrong.

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If I had a friend (See? If I had a friend? -so mean!) -anyway- If I had a friend whose boyfriend were saying that crap to her, I’d immediately tell her it was abusive behavior. If someone at school were telling these things to my son, I’d advise him to stand up for himself and even talk to his teacher about it. If I were reading a book or watching a movie and heard the things that play in my head all day; I would recognize the character as a petty, selfish bully.

Living with me all day every day, however, I do not. As you may have guessed, I tell myself that negativity is exactly what I deserve.

…Which makes breaking out of the cycle of abuse that much more difficult. And yes, it is a cycle of abuse.

As such, the actually LOGICAL steps to getting out would be to follow professional advice for leaving an abuser. The internet may be providing fodder for my inaccurate comparisons, but it also has a lot of information to help save me from them. In fact, there is even a wikiHow on breaking an abusive cycle.

Since we’re dealing with an internal abuser, I’ve taken their list and modified it:

  1. Leave.
    I can’t exactly leave my own head, but see that my substance abuse and attempts to disassociate are a lot like telling an abusive spouse I’m leaving, but not actually packing bags and arranging for another place to live.
    I feel that I don’t know where to go or what to pack yet, but maybe I can start asking around and collecting a few moving boxes.
  2. Don’t dismiss, justify, or accept the abuse.
    Frankly, I need to stop agreeing with the Meany-Head in my head. I can probably, sort-of, start talking back to it like a stubborn 3-year-old. According to professionals, that’s healthier than allowing it.
  3. Look out for the honeymoon phase.
    I didn’t think self-abuse had this, but it does. I have days or even weeks of letting up on myself. I smile without reminding myself that poor children in Africa have little to smile about. I accept a compliment and don’t downplay it.
  4. Don’t fall for that break in abuse!!
    I can’t let my guard down and assume everything’s better if there is little or no meanness.
    When I went on a successful diet one time, I mentally associated sugars and refined flour with fat gain. Those two became repulsive to me and I had no appetite to eat them.
    Similarly, I’ve got to put a no-acceptance-at-all mental block on the negative talk. Like Susan said in her article, I’ve got to respond right away with positivity.
  5. Unearth your superpower.
    The wikiHow articles says, “One reason individuals stay in abusive relationships is because they feel powerless and unable to act.” Boy, is that ever true. I feel overwhelmed at the idea of finding strength within myself.
    BUT, there are times that I am motivated to act -no matter how depressed or beaten-down I feel. Those times include: if someone I love is in danger, if injustice is raising its ugly head, and when things pile up so much that I simply cannot tolerate any more.
    If I can find strength even in the darkest despair, I can fight this abuse.
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  6. Go get help.
    I think this is my favorite of the steps, because I often suffer from Analysis Paralysis. I don’t know the ‘right’ direction to go, so stand and stare at the different options until I get frustrated and give up.
    With a counselor, therapist, psychologist, trained friend, or even a small reminder to literally choose to be positive; I can get GPS instructions for which way to start walking.

So, what am I waiting for? Honestly, I’m waiting for it to be easier. I’m waiting for the ‘right’ motivation. I’m probably waiting for the chocolate to kick in.

But I have a list. I have a goal. I want to Keep Fighting instead of keep bending over backwards and feeling worthless.

So, let’s do this thing. Who’s with me?

Photo Credit:
Andrei Lazarev
Siavash Ghanbari
Philipp Wüthrich
Gabriela Braga

©2019 Chelsea Owens

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Belittling Myself

*This post is a combination of processing and asking for input from my fellow bloggers and readers.*

Today my boss came up to me asking if we could have a chat. My heart sank a little bit thinking I was in trouble but I wasn’t. She brought up how I project my work to others, how I often times don’t give myself any credit.

This came up because yesterday we had to introduce ourselves during a meeting and I identified myself as my supervisor’s right-hand woman instead of my title. I often don’t say my title, which is the Development and Program Marketing Specialist, I usually say I do communications or that I help my supervisor.

I’m not good at talking about myself or making myself sound important. I think it’s a combination of years of low self-esteem, the idea that nobody cares what I have to say and not thinking I am important. So when somebody asks what I do, I brush it off saying, “I do our Facebook” then drop it.

In reality I do a lot more than schedule Facebook posts.

My boss said she wants me to be confident in my position, work and skills. She told me I am more than my supervisor’s right-hand woman, that I am my own independent, functioning person.

I was not expecting that conversation at all.

In all honesty, I don’t feel important at work. I think that anybody could do my job so, to me, what I write, create and do isn’t special. I felt that at my last job too, I compared my writing to my fellow reporters too often.

I come for 40 hours a week and do what I’m told. I recently had to do two marketing campaigns, one for a day camp and the other for volunteer training. I gave no ideas for anything, I asked my superiors what they wanted and I did just that.

Damn, this is turning into an entire in depth self evaluation that I was not expecting to have today.

The moment our conversation ended I thought, “I need to see my therapist.”

What about you guys? Do you have trouble talking about yourself or do you have confidence in doing that? How does your self-esteem effect your work?

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You’re Not the Only One (And That’s a Good Thing)

Don’t you think that you need somebody?
Don’t you think that you need someone?
Everybody needs somebody
You’re not the only one

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain

Loneliness – the dreadful, gnawing sense of abandonment and despair that comes from knowing that no one in the world suffers as you do – can be devastating. Worse still, you often feel as though you deserve it, because you’re somehow less than other people – less capable, less valid, less … human.

I used to feel this way a lot. I still do, sometimes, although as I’ve gotten older and weathered the storms of depression I’ve learned that even despair passes with time, and that even the loneliest among us aren’t really alone. It doesn’t change the feeling itself – in the moment, when the black closes in around you, you know beyond any doubt that you are utterly, completely alone.

It isn’t true, though. Not really.

Humans, by nature, need companionship. We crave it. We want it with every fiber of our being, and yet … sometimes we reject it. Sometimes, even when a friend comes knocking, we fail to answer the door. When a hand reaches out in the dark, we see it – and turn the other way.

Many of us … struggle with feeling valid. [But] it’s possible to be wrong.

I used to wonder about this. I used to think that loneliness could be a kind of strength, a measure of how deep my depression ran. That, somehow, being alone meant I was validated in my despair, that it was … okay, I guess, to feel so miserable. And I would see overtures from friends and family, and I would actively push them away, driving them off like rats with a stick.

I used to wonder why I was like this. Why on earth did I reject others’ attempts to help me? Why did I want to be alone?

The answer, I believe, lies in the belief of self-worth. Many of us, especially here on this blog, struggle with feeling valid, with believing that we’re worth something. Something deep inside triggers us into feeling that, no matter what, we don’t deserve the love of friends, family, colleagues … that, simply put, we aren’t worth the effort.

I know this feeling all too well. It once was bad enough that I remember thinking that I was punishing the world simply by being alive – that the air I was breathing would be better suited to someone else. I wanted to die, not only because of the depth of my misery, but because it somehow felt that it would be fairer to those around me to just not have to worry about me anymore.

But here’s what I’ve learned over the years. What you feel doesn’t change how others feel. Your beliefs don’t affect those of the people around you. And it’s possible to be wrong.

You see, from the moment you’re born to the moment you die, there are people who care about you. And the don’t care because they must – they care because they want to. There are, of course, varying levels of care, based on the feelings of sadness and hurt when you suffer, but there are so many, many more people in the world that care about you than you know.

Because every single word you utter, every sentence you type, every glance you give, affects the people you know – and sometimes the people you don’t. I don’t know you – we’ve never met – but I care. James here at The Bipolar Writer cares – for crying out loud, he’s even offered his phone number publicly! And believe me that the people who do know you care even more.

I attended a funeral last year for a friend of mine. If I’m honest (I hope he forgives me), he was no one special. He didn’t write books; he didn’t make movies. He wasn’t famous. Sometimes he was depressed; sometimes he didn’t want to carry on, especially towards the end. But he did; he powered through his cancer until the bitter end, because he wasn’t alone. And nowhere was this more evident than at the outpouring of love at his funeral. Yes, there were tears – but more than that, there were laughs, and good memories, and a sense of companionship between the rest of us who live: brought together by one person.

So what I’m trying to say here is simple: you’re not the only one to suffer. And you aren’t alone in your suffering. Every one of us here at The Bipolar Writer has, in one fashion or another, been in your shoes; we know what it’s like. We care. So do many. And the community James has built here should help you understand this simple idea:

You aren’t alone.

You Aren’t Struggling Because You Suck

Hey, you. Yes -YOU! -The one with your head hanging down, sitting in the corner with your vice at hand.

I’m here to give you a pep talk.

Hey! Put that bottle back down. It’s not that kind of talk.

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I’m not going to tell you that you can do great things; that you ought to feel better; that you need to buck up because tomorrow will be a better day. You and that negative voice in your head know that’s all lies. Tomorrow will be just like today, but you’ll be older.

I’m here to tell you a few truths.

First, you don’t suck. You have just as much right to be around as that guy over there laughing at a funny joke his friend told him. You are just as worthwhile as that woman walking her dog. You deserve the same life as that cute little toddler chasing his sister at the park nearby.

Why? Because you are as much human as they are.

Number two: Everyone has problems. Sure; rich and healthy people have fewer problems -BUT wait- they actually just have different ones. It’s kind of like how superheroes have powers but also weaknesses.

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Your superpower is having an incredible depth of character and thought. Not that you can change your origin story, but wouldn’t you rather have that than Rich Man dickishness?

Thirdly, you do not have a mental illness because of your sins. If extremely difficult trials came about because of behavior, more rotten people would be falling apart Voodoo Doll-style. I am not even joking. Historically, really terrible people have lived decent lives. Look them up and you’ll see.

You have a mental illness because of things like genetics, learned negative behaviors, possible parental substance abuse, etc. In short, because of things you could not control and cannot change at this point in history anyway.

The fourth thing I’d like to point out is that, if God is your thing, He has promised to help you. He has not promised to keep smashing you into the pile of your discarded cigarette butts -well, unless you’re living in Old Testament times and have insulted one of His prophets. Most of those stories have likely suffered the effects of a really long game of Telephone and shouldn’t be taken at face value anyway…

Point is that God didn’t smite you, but does want to bless you.

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Fifth, for EVERYONE is that there are people out there who want to love you. The world wide web creates much too big of an environment for us to deal with in terms of seeking universal popularity, but it does provide the means to get in contact with like-minded people.

Just look at this blog: nearly ten thousand followers. Thousands of comments saying how nice it is to find others who relate.

Don’t go hugging random street bums and getting mugged. Do try connecting with people you can trust.

Last but not least, your inner voice is not right. It’s speaking through layers of skewed perspective, self-protection, and real and assumed hurt. Operating from that far in, it says unkind and untrue things.

Your negative thoughtspeak is one side of a lever permanently stuck in the mud. If you really want to reach a level view, you need to accept the positive side of situations as well.

Accepting, at the very least, my six truths will help you achieve that balance.

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Now, I don’t want you to ‘get out there and show the world what you’re made of,’ but I do need you to come out of the corner. Thing is, the world probably isn’t quite ready for your superpowers yet -but it needs them.

So, who’s with me?

Photo credits:
Rafki Altoberi
Joey Nicotra
Milada Vigerova
Markus Winkler

Honor Your Story

This was my first post after my last failed attempt at blogging. I post it as a reminder that we all have a story, we all have our struggles and we can overcome. Stay true to yourself and don’t ever give up, you are not alone.

It’s funny how things happen. How sometimes, a seamlessly, insignificant trip to the store can turn into an eye-opening event. It’s been a while since I’ve posted, well, it’s been almost a year, and it saddens me to think of all the time I’ve lost, but also makes me smile as I sit here understanding that the reason it’s been so long is the same reason I feel the need to begin again.

Your StoryWhen I started this blog back in August of last year I was on a path I knew was mine. I felt as if I was moving with the current of my life and that things were falling into place so effortlessly. I was back where I was meant to be, and there was nothing that would get in my way. What I wasn’t expecting was the same darkness that kept me from this path in the past would creep up once again. You see, not long after I began this most recent journey I had unexpected health issues that involved surgery, which put me out of commission for approximately six weeks. While surgery went smoothly, and physically, I fully recovered, I was completely unaware of what it would do to me mentally.

When I was younger, and in different times in my adulthood, I suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression. Back then, if you would have asked me, I would have said I was fine and that there was nothing wrong with how I acted, reacted, or led my life. I would say this because I truly and deeply felt that was the truth. I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with never smiling, hating the world, screaming my side of a story, crying for no reason, and having no energy to even lift a cigarette to my mouth. The panic attacks would make me nervous, but because they happened even on a good day, I believed it was just who I was. When confronted about the possibility that this was not normal, I would blame my situation or everyone around me. Never did I stop to think that something may actually be off with me.

That’s the thing about depression, when you’re in it, you don’t even know it, and when do know it, you have no idea how to get out of it, and sometimes no desire to. It can feel like the most comfortable place in the world to be, but also as if something has a hold of your insides and just won’t let go. This is teamed with intense anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts that overcome you even when you try your hardest to be rational, making even the most sane person feel crazy.

After years of not knowing where these feelings came from I now believe that hormones are my way. When I was younger, keeping busy helped, and as an adult I learned to recognize these bouts and would attempt to fight back, winning most battles, but it wasn’t until I was on medication did I get any true reprieve. Not saying this is the answer for everyone, it has been a very long time since I had these feelings. However, unfortunately, even at a peak of positivity in my life, to my dismay, I found myself back in this place after surgery. I stopped writing, running, engaging and even wanting to get out of bed. At first, I didn’t recognize this familiar darkness because it had been so long, but once I did, I realized I had to fight back, and started to make changes, and the first one was to talk about it. It’s taken months, but I can finally say, I’m feeling myself once more, and I’m ready to begin this journey once again.

I tell this story, not for pity, but for hope. Depression and anxiety are real, they are not made-up feelings to get attention. You may not suffer from it yourself, but I guarantee you know someone who does. If you met me, you may never have thought, and to many, this will come as a complete surprise. We have been taught to be ashamed of it, told to deal with it, or just plain get over it. If only it were that simple. I was able to overcome because someone listened when I recognized it in myself, someone was there when I made myself ask for help, and someone encouraged me to allow myself to be helped. I wasn’t always able to do this, and not everyone can, so they need support. Listen, don’t judge, and don’t assume you understand or have the answers, just be there. For those who do suffer, talk, don’t assume we know, ask for help, and you may be surprised how many are listening. There is light after the darkness and there is a path there, but sometimes it takes more than the will to overcome, you may need a strong soul or an army to have your back, but it is possible, I know.

After several months MIA, I wasn’t sure if I would be led back to writing again, and even if I was, I really didn’t know how I would pick back up. Thoughts of what I would say or if I should even attempt it, ran over and over in my head. It wasn’t until a seemingly, insignificant trip to the store did I realize that it was time to find my voice again. The pictured quote was written on a wooden plaque as I passed through looking for a card, and at first glance I continued to walk by, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Before I left the store that day I bought it and hung it over my desk. Nothing spoke more truth to me at that moment. I needed to tell my story, and my story involved struggles, my story involved depression and anxiety, my story involved hope, my story involved real happiness, and my story mattered, and if I do nothing else, I’m going to honor it. So I’m back, and I’m looking forward to many more chapters.

Honor your story, whatever it may be, because you never know, one word, one moment or one seemingly insignificant trip, can change your course or even the course for someone else.

Lots of Love,

Lisa

Find the Courage to Forgive Yourself

I wrote this post a year ago when I set out on my journey to find my purpose or my reason to write and my path to happiness, before I quit for the fourth time, and started again a month ago. I wanted to share because its a concept I believe we all forget sometimes, but is so very important in order to find the answers we seek. 

The greatest act of courage is to be & own all that you are. Without apology. Without excuses & without any masks to cover the truth of who you truly are. – Unknown

You hear it all the time, whether it be in self-help books, spiritual seminars or inspirational stories — the power of forgiveness, and how it can set you free. For so long, when I heard these words, my mind immediately went to those who had hurt me in some way or another, and how forgiving them would heal me. Not until recently, after diving into all the spiritual and inspirational books I could get my hands, did I realize I was missing something so obvious if it were a snake it would have bit me.

The concept of forgiveness should not only extend to those around you, but also within you. Mind. Blown. This was an eye-opening concept when I truly thought about it, and the same reason I started with the idea of forgiving yourself as my first official post on my journey to happiness.

There are so many things I want to share that I struggled for a few days trying to determine what the subject of my next post would be. My head was swimming with ideas, but the concept of self-forgiveness kept nagging at me. I finally understood why. To begin any journey, whatever it may be, you must forgive the past to move forward. The fact is though, those words can be so over-stated that they become background noise. You see it and hear it in memes, affirmations and posts all around social media, but what does it really mean? Forgive your past to move on to the future. Ok. Done — If only it were that easy.

To truly forgive yourself, it is necessary to dig deep and probably face some truths you’ve been trying to avoid. You will need to let go of the guilt kept so close to your heart that sometimes you forget it’s even there. You know, that guilt that tricks you into believing you don’t deserve to be happy. For me, this was a very scary concept to face.

My past was something I never dealt with on that level. I mean, I looked back on it, and I acknowledged it, and even blamed a lot of people for it, but never really faced it internally. I never allowed myself to own it so I could let it go. Among many reasons, my heavy guilt mostly came from what I felt I put my children through. Two divorces were hard enough, but I moved my daughter 10 times by the time she was ten, and my son 8 times and he turns twelve this year.

I’m not proud of these stats, and even though I did, and still do believe, those moves were necessary for our future, that guilt halted any belief in the possibility of happiness without me even realizing it.  Subconsciously, I had convinced myself that someone who could do what I did, whether it be for a good reason or not, should not be allowed happiness or an opportunity to succeed. Because these thoughts were subconscious and based on the belief that other people’s judgment of me is what mattered, I would consistently convince myself that it was those people who determined my truth, and only if they would understand and except me for my decisions, then all would be ok. I lived like that every day.

It wasn’t until I decided it was time to get real about finding my purpose/path in this amazing life, did I realize that the I had to give myself a break. It was time for me to stop the smoke and mirrors and face my past and my decisions, own them, and then forgive myself for being human. Then, Let It Go.

So where do I start and how do I let go of something I’ve held onto every day of my life? It wasn’t easy, and I won’t lie, it’s an ongoing process that I work on consistently. For me, I began the forgiveness process when I recognized the guilt and pinpointed what it was I was truly feeling and why. I did this by practicing meditation and self-reflection. Once I determined that there was guilt and where it came from, I journaled it, I put it on paper so I could see it, I even cried as read it back to myself, as that guilt can run deep to your core, and then I tore that shit up, and I let it go.

After physically and mentally letting it go, I made a commitment that I would be more gentle with myself, I would allow myself to feel, and as hard as it may be for me because it is so engrained, let the judgment of others run off me like rain.

I had to learn to love myself, for all of who I was, and who I now am. Although some days are harder than others, I practice this commitment Every Day, and it has made a tremendous difference in my life. I am lighter, happier, and this piece of the puzzle has helped me gain the confidence to write this blog. It takes remarkable courage to face your past and your guilt, and it takes even more strength to let it go, but it is an extremely important and necessary step to find your true happy.

No matter what your inner thoughts believe, no matter what past you may have lived, no matter what you may think others will think because of who you once were, YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY. Repeat that to yourself, repeat it as many times as it takes for you to believe it, YOU DESERVE TO BE HAPPY.  Holding on to the guilt of your past will drain you and your spirit, blocking the ability to have real joy in your life, so give yourself a break, be gentle, learn to love your whole self and let go. You will find that the door will swing open to incredible possibilities.

Much love,

Lisa

Lexel

When I Finally Knew My Worth

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This has been the hardest road I ever travelled on. This Journey of finding myself and who I was destined to be after trauma has not been easy. I hope that this gives people hope that one can come out victorious even when they had gone through circumstances that were unbearable. I really travelled through this madness to find myself. I became comfortable with myself in this space (on this planet) because I no longer have nothing to prove to anyone. I just have to be authentically me. I had to changed how I saw (my perspective) of my circumstances and the world. I chose me first. I chose to follow my intuition, my inner-compass.

I will never be anything less than me and if that bothers you, step out of my light. – Anonymous

After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. I outgrew people who gladly offered criticism instead of support. I stopped trying to meet unrealistic expectations that were set by my family. I have outgrown my own unrealistic expectations of myself and my need to people please. accomplishment-achievement-adorable-1119981I no longer associate myself with human beings, who wear masks and secretly rejoice at my misfortunes and my mistakes. I ceased shrinking myself for people who were intimidated by my presence and by my intelligence. People who wouldn’t allow me to express myself because they were intimidated by my outspoken nature. Even when I was shrinking myself, I had the courage to break the silence and hear myself sing again.

I have outgrown friendships, love-ships and family-ships that did not celebrate accomplishments. I stopped supporting people who disappeared whenever life got a little tough. I learnt to respect myself. battle-black-blur-260024I no longer associated with people who took pleasure in gossiping and spreading negativity. Dull, shallow and meaningless conversations are a thing of the past. I value my time and energy more than ever before. I have outgrown society telling me that I am not beautiful and not worthy. I ceased filling my mind with negative thoughts, self doubt and insecurities. I stopped finding reasons not to love myself but more reasons to love others before myself because of my emptiness. I have outgrown people and things that don’t enrich my soul, inner-tuition and my life purpose. After so many years of soul searching and seeking external validation, I have outgrown so many things. My soul is finally free. I finally know my worth more than ever now.

I stopped waiting for the world to give me what I wanted; I started giving it to myself. – Anonymous

Thank you for being with me. I look forward to seeing you here again. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love

Francesca