Signing Off With Love.


Hi Friends,

I have an announcement to make. I guess the title kind of gave it away.

I am shutting down the blog – or more specifically my creation of “The Self Love Challenge.” I guess technically the website and my corresponding social media pages will still exist, so if anyone does want to read old posts, they can. But as far as my relationship with The Self Love Challenge – I have to say it has come to an end.

It’s been a tough decision, and while I absolutely love writing it and speaking to some of you and knowing that I have made a difference in some of your lives, it is something I have to do for myself. It’s served it’s purpose and I’m grateful for that season of my life, but it’s time for a new season. A new purpose.

I came to the final decision this morning, but God has placed it on my heart to do this for a few weeks now. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to write about or because of the bullying I’ve experieced most recently or because the community wasn’t taking off like I had hoped it would – my decision is based solely on what God wants for my life – and frankly, right now, this is not what my focus should be on.

I think He has a bigger plan for me. I’m not really sure what exactly it is yet, but I trust in it. And I’m learning that part this obedience as a Christ follower means learning how to surrender all parts of our life to Him, which I really haven’t been. So I think that is where my focus should be right now. Surrendering my life completely and trusting that He will lead me to wherever I need to go – whether it be as a writer, a blogger, an artist, a life coach, or something completely different – the first step begins with me choosing to obey His commands.

I know some of this may not make sense to some of you, especially those who do not call themselves Christian. However, it does not need to make sense to you and I really don’t have to explain it. I’m not saying that to be rude, but I guess this is my personal journey and my deeper reasoning for doing this is something that will have to stay between God and I.

I’m also learning that some thing we are not meant to understand the reason behind why He wants us to let certain things go, but we must do it anyway. Of all the times God has asked me to let something go, I’ve always been hesitant. I’ve always thought that I knew better. That I could keep it going on my own. But He always brought me to the point where I needed to make a decision – whether to continue in my own strength or to surrender and do it His way. He’s a very patient God, and He is always patient with me as I continue to defy Him and try to do it on my own. But just like any parent, He waits until His child eventually realizes their need for Him and gives in.

I’ve had to let go of several things in my life that I really did not want to let go of. But God seems to prune us of the things He knows shouldn’t be in our life, because He knows He has something better for us.

So. With all that said, I do want to thank each and every one of you for following my blog, for engaging with me, and for teaching me things I wouldn’t have learned otherwise from this experience.

I know this doesn’t mean that I will quit writing. I will always be writing something. But I think The Self Love Challenge had it’s moment, and now it’s time to move on to the next part of my journey.

I wish you all well. Keep going, friends.

xx

Christina

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Too Much of a Good Thing Gone Wrong.

 

I’ve come to two realizations today.

Not necessarily relating to each other but I thought I would share the first anyway, despite it being more of a personal thought rather than a true realization or fact.

I find myself feeling lately that I am not qualified to be a teacher of self love or really of anything, as I myself am still learning. I’m trying not to be self-deprecating by saying that but it’s difficult to keep believing in your own ability to help others when you yourself are still struggling with so many things. Maybe I shouldn’t place so much pressure on myself. Maybe I don’t necessarily need to create a blog that is purely for “teaching” wellness skills, but rather keep my focus on changing for the better in my own journey, and hoping that it will spill over into helping others through the sharing of my experiences.

The other realization I’ve come to today is that too much of a good thing, can quickly turn into a really bad thing. Hence, the title of my post – I am learning that too much self love can deviously turn into selfishness if we are not careful.

It’s funny because when I first started this blog, I wanted to make sure that people did not get the two confused – that essentially promoting self love did not mean that I was also advocating for people to become selfish. Because that is not what self love is all about.

Self love is about learning our own value and learning to accept and love ourselves in our most true and natural state. I wanted to also make it a point that as we begin to learn to love ourselves, it also opens up a deeper part of our hearts, giving us the ability to also love others as well. This is why I believe learning to love ourselves is not doing a selfish thing, but rather it is doing a kind thing for humanity.

But I guess because we are all human, flawed, and realistically selfish by nature, we are bound to corrupt it’s good nature eventually. What I mean is this – if we become too focused on ourselves, self love can (sometimes) unknowingly turn into self-absorption, which is a selfish thing. This is how too much of a good thing can easily backfire.

Because I want to be as open and honest as possible, I’m going to admit that this blog and maybe even some of my own self love practices have caused me to become too self absorbed. I’ve taken it too far, instead of taking it to the next level and spreading that newfound love inside me to other people. I’ve become too focused on my own needs, what I want, and what I deserve. I was masking it as simply being kind or loving towards myself, but in reality, I am entertaining an attitude of entitlement. Again, I don’t mean to sound so harsh when describing myself but it is good to examine our hearts once in a while to make sure they are centered in the right place.

I began to notice most recently that I’ve become rather lazy, using the excuse that I am too tired because I work too much for everything. I’ve gone so far as to use this excuse as a reason not to cook meals for my boyfriend and I or do any housework or even get up early enough to do anything fun together anymore. I whine and complain that “I’m simply too tired,” to do any of these things, and that I need to “take care of myself and rest.” Sure, it’s great to take care of your needs when you are feeling overwhelmed because of having too much on your plate, but when does it cross the line?

It crosses the line when you begin to use this excuse as a way to manipulate other people to do things for you. I am ashamed to say this is exactly what I have been doing (not consciously mind you)! I would manipulate my boyfriend into feeling guilty by telling him that I’m always the one cooking or always the one cleaning or always the one doing everything and then demanding when it would be my turn to be taken care of. I played the classic victim role.

But this is not the only area of my life where I have done this. I’ve noticed this lazy and entitled attitude carry itself over into other parts of my life.

At work, I’ve been doing the bare minimum – accounting it to having worked there for 10+ years and giving the excuse that I’ve worked hard enough, that it was essentially someone else’s turn to work hard now and my turn to take it easy because I’ve already put in my time.

I’ve even done it with family or friends. Why did I have to put in so much effort to meet their needs? When were they going to meet mine? Why did I always have to be the one to run at their first beck and call, when would it be my turn for reciprocation?

Now that I look back on this disgusting attitude of mine, (let’s just call it for what it is) I can’t believe that this was my way of thinking! And the sad part is, it only drove people further and further away, not wanting to reciprocate in meeting my needs in any form. And I don’t blame them.

But so often we find ourselves slipping into these bad behaviors unknowingly. We simply excuse it as either taking care of ourselves first or sometimes even convincing ourselves that we deserve something because we’ve worked so hard for it.

I’m trying not to be hard on myself, although I am a bit upset at myself for allowing it to get this bad. But because God gave us grace first and taught us to extend grace to others (as well as ourselves too) this is precisely what I’m going to attempt to do.

Christina, it’s ok. You make mistakes, but you’ve realized it, and now you work on changing for the better. Simple.

And that’s it. No slipping into self-pity mode. No bashing myself with guilt or shame. Just simply forgiveness.

Much easier said than done, trust me. But I’m going to choose to do it.

But do you see how easily it is to turn self love into an excuse for self-centeredness? Do you see how easily we can manipulate it into something that it is not supposed to be?

How can we prevent this in the future?

I’m still trying to figure that part out, but through prayer and wisdom from God, I think I have a few suggestions that I’m willing to try out myself and hope that it will be good wisdom for some of you too.

We have to realize that we are not entitled to anything.

Just because we have discovered that we are worthy or deserving of better things and of love, doesn’t mean that we stop giving out that love and service to others as well and only focus on taking. We should never feel entitled to anything and remember that everything is a gift, so we must be grateful for it. As soon as you begin to feel like you deserve someone else’s love or service, that’s when you know you are headed into selfish territory.

 Just because we are learning how to love ourselves, doesn’t mean we get to stop loving others as well.

God brought me to this verse today. It says, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Phil. 2:4) AKA don’t be so self-absorbed!  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the world revolves around only you. Your needs are important, but the needs of others are important too.

When we receive love, remember to equally give out that same love to others.

If someone does something kind for you, give out that same kindness to someone else. If you receiving in a lot of love, remember to give out just as much! We should always live in an environment where we are giving more than receiving.

Stop making excuses for why you can’t do something to benefit someone else.

I know you’re tired, so am I. I know you’re probably overworked, SO AM I. I know you do a lot and I know you deserve a lot and I know you want your needs met too. But I’m learning that giving is a lot more satisfying than taking, especially when it comes to love. You know how happy it makes me feel when I do cook that meal for my boyfriend and at the end of it he tells me how wonderful it was and how grateful he was that I made it. Or have you ever experienced that moment when you decide to go out of your way to call up a friend to ask how they are rather than venting to them first about your own horrible day? You can automatically sense how grateful they are that you’ve asked. It’s a great way of showing that you really do care and aren’t always concerned with what you need.

 

Basically, the key to not being selfish is making sure that you are putting equal importance on the needs of others as well. I don’t know how I got to this point and I really hope that I can begin to change, especially in the area of feeling entitled and lazy. It’s not fair to the people I love or care about, and it’s really not good character to have this attitude.

I think if you’re like me, and – welp – giving is not really second nature to you, then start small. In a sermon I was listening to recently concerning selfishness, it said that for those of us who do struggle with selfishness and want to change, we should always start small with practicing common courtesy.

If someone asks you how you are, be sure to return the favor by asking how they are. If someone holds the door for you, be sure to hold the door for someone else. If you see someone struggling with something, ask if they need a helping hand. Just tiny little gestures, tiny baby steps towards becoming a more selfless person. And you know what, honestly, it’s going to take real effort to do it, especially for me. Because my brain does not automatically jump to, “oh I should step in and help this person.”

Part of change is an active effort of rewiring our programming and doing that requires a ton of practice and conscious effort. We have to do the right things over and over again, despite our nature to do the complete opposite. It reminds me of another verse I found in the bible when Paul is speaking about the conflict of two natures – our flesh verses our spiritual nature. He says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate…I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:14-23)

We always seem to know what is right and yet somehow, we end up doing it wrong because it is our imperfect nature. But that doesn’t mean we can’t keep trying to do what is right and purposely choosing to do what is right despite our inherently “selfish nature.”

I don’t particularly enjoy writing blog posts where I have to admit something about an area in my life where I am not too proud of or that I struggle with. It makes me feel ashamed and like many of you will judge me for being a “bad person.” But I don’t think people are as bad as we often perceive they will be. I don’t think your first thought will automatically be to tell me how terrible I am. I think your first thought will be a thought of relief, because you have probably felt the same way I have at times when you’ve fallen short in your own ways. And I think that is exactly how we can practice giving each other grace.

Anyway, keep going, my friends.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Practice doing something good for someone else that may not necessarily benefit you directly.

xx

Christina

10 Brave Truths.

 

The most embarrassing thing to admit after claiming to be a self love advocate is that you are still having trouble actually loving yourself. I guess that is the bravest thing you could do – to admit that you are essentially bad at something you claim to know so much about. And it’s brave because you’re telling the world “here I am” regardless of how flawed or imperfect you really are, despite whatever it is you claim to know. No one is an expert. We all have places we are weak or places where we are not so good. But just because we have said places that exist within us, doesn’t mean that we are less than or not enough, it means that we are actually brave enough to decide to show our real selves to the world.

I’ve been really struggling with this blog or “self love movement” I’ve been trying to create. I don’t want to admit that because I want to seem like I’ve got it all together and know what I’m doing so I can be this role model and inspirational leader for others to follow.

I’ve noticed that I’ve placed this unnecessary pressure upon myself to do a “good job” at playing this role of “self love advocate,” “wellness blogger,” and “writer.” However, I’m recognizing that by trying to be “good” at these things rather than creating and expressing myself freely as I should, is creating prison born out of the pressure of being “good” that is ultimately killing my creativty and motivation to even keep writing sometimes. Author, Kristen Bell, once said “I am tired of being good, I want to be free.” I am tired of trying to be good, I want to be free now! And isn’t it funny how when we actually want to do a really good job at something we are passionate about it actually does the complete opposite – like trying too hard?

And trying too hard isn’t really doing the brave thing. Trying too hard is playing it safe. And when you play it safe you’re not really being yourself. You’re doing what you know will work for sure or what everybody else wants you to do or what you think everybody wants to see you do. That’s why when you go out and be yourself and create from the heart instead of from this “safe zone” it is a tremendous act of bravery. Because being your self is doing the brave thing and I haven’t been doing the brave thing lately.

Sure, I am open and honest but I’ve been playing it safe at the same time. I’ve been too worried about how my writing will be received and not worried enough about whether I am being true to myself when I write. I am worried about the numbers, the likes, the comments, the feedback, the amount of people who are responding and not worried enough about whether I am writing honestly and authentically. And because of these worries, I’ve noticed that I’ve begun to write in a way that is more about “how-to-do-this” rather than “this is me, this is my journey, and this is what I hope will inspire you.” That’s not being brave or honest. That’s writing because I want you to like what I write, and although I want you to like what I write, it shouldn’t matter to me more than writing what makes me feel true to myself. And that stuff doesn’t make me feel true. When I get to write about whatever I want without thinking twice about how it sounds, that’s when I know I am writing from my heart and not from a “marketing mindset.”

I’m realizing that you can’t place these kinds of pressures on yourself when you are creating something. You can’t worry about the end result. The only worry you should have is whether or not you are creating something real and genuine that speaks to what you believe in. The rest of it will follow. And while people may respond to the “cookie cutter” outline blogs of “how to create a better life in 10 steps”, they will respond in a greater way if you are just yourself. Because you will have given them permission to take off their own masks too and say “me too, I get it.” And that’s where connection happens. That’s when the magic happens – where honesty meets vulnerability through choice of being brave and then connection is born.

That is our ultimate goal. To connect so that we can be seen. To say “here I am” and for others to respond “I see you.”

That is what I want. To be seen. It’s not about likes or having my blog blow up to have a million followers but to just be able to do that brave thing every day of showing up and being myself in this world where everyone is too afraid to do it. And when others see that braveness, I want them to know that it’s ok to be brave too!

As Glennon Doyle Melton creator of Momastery says, “being brave is a decision.” It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, you have to actively make that choice to be brave. And it doesn’t always have to mean going out and doing something outrageous thing. Being brave could be as simple as choosing to be kind in a place where it might be difficult or uncomfortable to show kindness. It may mean admitting that you need help. It may be writing a blog post entry that really sucks but doing it anyway because that’s what you needed to get out today. Doing the brave could saying I’m sorry when you really don’t want to admit that you did wrong. It may mean getting out of bed and trying to do life again despite the challenges that you are currently facing.


There are a ton of ways to be brave, but the difference between being brave and playing it safe is actually showing up instead of hiding in that space of fear.

So I guess I want to be brave today and to reveal that braveness to the world I want to play a little game I made up called “10 brave truths.” I want to reveal 10 brave truths about how I’m deciding to be brave today or just in general.

10 brave truths

  • I’m choosing to be brave by writing this blog post, despite really wanting to quit writing anything all together because lately I feel like it’s not making much of an impact and nobody cares.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by admitting that I am struggling lately with my self love rituals and not really being as kind as I’d like to be towards myself.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by continuing to try to be kind and patient and loving towards myself and others, despite failing numerous times this week because of my own anger and bitterness that I still struggle with.
  • I chose to be brave by getting out of bed this morning and not calling in sick to work despite really wanting to hide from the world due to my recent bout of hopelessness and lack of motivation.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by admitting that I am struggling and how embarrassed I feel because every single one of these points thus far have been about some sort of struggle making me feel like I am weak, when really I am not.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by not listening to my fear, and trying my hardest to build trust with the idea of happiness or rather trying to trust that good things can and will exist in my life.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by really trying to choose gratitude over dwelling on what isn’t going right in my life and making a habit of seeing what I have rather than what I lack.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by speaking up about my needs to the people that care about me rather than sitting quietly in resentment because my needs aren’t being met.
  • I’m choosing to be brave by staying close to God rather than seeking some unhealthy version of a coping mechanism to get me through each day.
  • I chose to be brave by picking the path in life that was unknown, that may not have necessarily been easy or conventional, but that ultimately will prove to be more satisfying and authentic.   

 

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

What are your 10 brave truths? Share with me.

 

Keep going,

xx

Christina

P.S. You can follow more from me on my instagram at @The.Self.Love.Challenge or on my facebook page! Thank you!

Trusting Happiness.

 

I feel like 90% of this blog is based on my own personal issues, but I guess that is how we become the best kinds of teachers, isn’t it? We learn from our own experiences and then go on to teach others so they can lessen their own chance of making mistakes. I try not to make this blog seem like a personal venting zone, but rather somewhere I can share my wisdom learned from these, sometimes trying, experiences. And it is my hope that the knowledge I do pass on is actually beneficial to someone – even just one person out there. That would make my day or my entire life, perhaps.

With that being said, here’s more of what I’m learning.

I’m learning that I find it difficult to trust happiness (or really trust most things in general). I think the wariness was born from years of betrayal and disappointment, sad to say. I’m not saying that because of this I am a permanent cynic or pessimist, but I do tend to lean towards that side of the spectrum.

I don’t want to. Really, I would love to believe the best of everything, but after experiencing years of mistrust, it becomes hard not to be a little cautious when giving your all to something.

Now I really wasn’t aware of this difficulty trusting until more recently. The awareness came to me through prayer. I wouldn’t say I am a fairly new Christian anymore, but when I just started out, I had a difficult time accepting the idea of trusting God with all areas in my life. Being the control freak that I am, I would only allow him to manage the areas which I thought didn’t really need too much of my own input, which was pretty much just my job – since it was mostly unchanging. Everywhere else, I needed to manage it myself so I could have some sense of control. And God wasn’t really having it.

Trying to control all aspects of your life rather than trusting that God has got it covered is not a good start to supposedly trying to form a relationship with Him. It was always taught to me that He cared for my well being and that He would provide what I needed to get through life if only I would just trust His judgment.

But I thought I knew better, like always. I didn’t want things to be outside my control or move in a direction that I wasn’t ready for. So I held on pretty tight and all it did was cause me more worry, more anxiety, and overall more stress.

The reason of why I had so much anxiety and worry over my life was revealed to me through a moment of conversation and prayer and He basically said that it was time for me to learn how to surrender and TRUST in Him that things would be ok, that one way or another, He had it covered.

It’s been quite the journey learning how to do that on its own. I can’t say I’ve got it all down, but I’ve definitely loosened my grip and life has become less frantic.

However now the time has come for another season of learning how to trust – and that is trusting happiness. What I mean by that is trusting that good things can actually happen to me. Because I’ve experienced quite the load of misfortune, I tend to have the “everything is too good to be true” view on life.

If something feels way too happy or seems to be going way too smoothly, I start to feel that same kind of panic. My mind begins to question it. It brings up doubt where no doubts should normally exist. It goes so far as to create thoughts that cause me to assume things that haven’t even really happened. You could say this is truly self-sabotoging behavior.

I react this way as a form of self-protection. My brain doesn’t want to get hurt again, so it puts up these guards when it senses that things are going too well. It tries to convince me that inevitably they will go bad, so I should so I should prepare for it in the best way I can – which most of the time means backing off.

This is no healthy way to live. And it’s even worse because I haven’t been fully aware that I have been prolonging this accidental sabotage of the happy things in my life all this time.

I really began to take notice of this issue more recently in my current relationships. Now my boyfriend is a wonderful man, he’s not perfect, but he really doesn’t give me much reason to panic in the way that I do. As our time being together has increased and I become more deeply attached, I’ve noticed that my mind, every few weeks or so, it decides to try and perform this act of accidental sabotage.

Thoughts will pop up in my head out of the blue sometimes and try to convince me of either backing off, breaking up, or trying to push him to admit something I am trying to assume is true. For example some of the thoughts I have are things like, “did you notice he’s being a little distant? Maybe he doesn’t love you anymore? Maybe he likes someone else? Maybe he’s cheating on you? Maybe you should break up with him because he’s inevitably going to leave you anyway?”

But this isn’t the only area of my life where it has affected me.

With friends – “you shouldn’t really trust her. She’s going to end up judging you or talking bad about you in some way like the others.” Or with career moves – “don’t go after that job, it won’t work out. You’ll probably get fired because you can’t do it.” Or with my life in general – “things are way too happy for you right now. it’s got to be too good to be true. Something bad is going to happen soon. Be prepared.”

How terrible to think this way. To live in this kind of constant state of anxiety and worry. It can drive a person mad, but most importantly, keep someone from living a truly happy life because they are always going to be doubting their happiness – or not trusting that it’s real and that they deserve it.

See, I think that’s where the problem lies at the core. After experiencing so much pain in the past, I think we almost believe this lie that maybe we just don’t deserve good things anymore, that we are almost cursed to always feel pain or that things will inevitably not work out the way we hope. We kind of arm ourselves with this truth (or lie) that we should always be on guard towards everything so that it minimizes our chance of experiencing hurt – and we do this because at least we can stay in control of protecting ourselves from the pain. There’s that control word again.


Trust is always about control. And when we allow ourselves to give up control, that’s when we are finally able to trust. When it comes to trusting happiness, we need to learn to give up that idea that we can control every little thing that happens to us, and just accept what comes – good or bad. And honestly, the bad will come. We will get hurt again. We will be disappointed eventually. It’s inevitable. But this is life.

The other things we need to wrap our brains around is accepting that we are not doomed to a life of hardship. If we continue to believe the lie or the story that we’ve told ourselves for years that we don’t deserve good things in our lives, then good things are rarely going to happen. We attract what we think we deserve. If we believe that we deserve good things, then we will begin to have a more positive outlook on life that allows us to trust in the idea that good things will happen in our life.

We can’t assume that role of the realist who sees the negative in the situation before it sees the potential. Sure, the realist might have a point, that things might possibly go wrong and we might possibly get hurt, but what if it goes the opposite. What if it’s the best thing that ever happened to us? What if we trust in optimism instead and believe that it WILL be the best thing that ever happened to us. Maybe that way we will manifest its success rather than accidentally sabotage it with our cynical assumptions.

I know it’s hard to trust that good things can happen, especially after years of pain. But take that leap of faith. Trust that you at least deserve good things, so you won’t always feel like this is what you deserve so you might as well make the most of it.

I need to stop acting like a cynic myself. I need to start seeing potential instead of seeing warning signs. I need to believe in the best instead of automatically assume the worst. I need to trust that happiness does exist and I do deserve some of it in my life. I think you should too.


The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Make a list of your worries or fears in your life, then decipher whether it is 100% true or whether you are projecting your own personal mistrust onto it and making it appear worse than it is. If it is indeed you, try finding a positive way to see the situation. If it’s a relationship that you are afraid might not end well, try to see the good aspects of it first. The reasons why it will succeed. If it’s a job that you are afraid to go after because of fear, list the reasons why you will succeed instead. Try this with different aspects of your life and see if you can manifest thoughts that project a sense of trust that it will work out, rather than fear.

xx

Christina

P.S.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Instagram at @The.Self.Love.Challenge !

Why Setbacks Really Mean You are Suceeding.


Right now, in this moment, I want to cry. As I’m writing this, I am dealing with a tightness in my chest. I feel a heaviness over my body as if I can’t get in a good breath of air, leaving me feeling a bit uneasy.

Suffocating is one of my greatest fears. And whenever I feel this level of anxiety, it usually effects my breath more than any other part of my body. It used to be my heart. It would race and pound and I would believe that I was literally dying. But now, it’s my breath. The feeling of uneasiness weighs down on my chest like a ton of bricks and clamps me around squeezing me like an anaconda.

It’s the worst feeling in the world. And one that can easily cause panic in the mind – making you fearful that at any minute you could stop breathing, that somehow your air is going to be cut off or that your body is going to forget how to take in another breath. But does it really happen? No. But this is how powerful the mind can be.

I’m not sure why I’m having this sort of “relapse” – I guess you could call it. It’s not really a full blown panic attack because I’ve grown to learn the symptoms of what panic feels like, and whenever I start to feel them I can usually talk myself out of it using the techniques I have learned over time. I’ve become good at living a “normal” life. 

But what is a “normal” life really? Does normal mean you do not struggle? That you never experience setbacks? Or that you get it right everything? If that’s the case, I don’t think any human being would be qualified as “normal.” Because we all struggle in some form and we all experience setbacks from time to time. 

I’ve been able to succeed in working my way around these kinds of moments or overcoming them altogether. My irrational fears are pretty much gone, so I don’t struggle anymore with those as often as I did, but I guess if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you’re never completely healed. I’d like to think you could be, because I know that God can deliver you from all things if He chooses to and is the ultimate Healer, but I think if you have it, you will always have it in some form – whether mild or more severe. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing too, and most of you who do suffer from it would respond with an “are you kidding me?” But hear me out.

While I absolutely hate having this struggle, it’s almost like a necessary stage of growth, as well as a reminder to humble myself. That I am not perfect. That I will have weak moments. That I will experience setbacks no matter how strong I think I’ve become. But I think if we didn’t humble ourselves from time to time during our setbacks, we would always feel angry that we aren’t getting it right or that we are failures because of it. I also have realized that the good part about having this “thorn in my side” as some may call it, is that I would never have been able to relate to and encourage so many others who struggle with mental illnesses.

Good can come out of every bad thing. Remember that.

But leading to my point, I don’t enjoy this feeling or this momentary setback, but it doesn’t mean that everything I worked so hard for is now meaningless. It does not mean that I am now considered a failure. And it definitely does not mean that I am back at square one – because I have come so far, I have learned so much, and you can’t just unlearn those things simply because of a few bad moments. Sure you may still struggle, but you will overcome. It is just temporary discomfort and it will pass.

And maybe it’s not an mental illness that you are struggling with that is causing you a setback. Maybe it is some other kind of hardship. Again, it will pass. You will find a way to survive past it. Because that is how we are built at our core – to find a way to survive and keep moving forward. Just like my fear of suffocation, my body will not just stop breathing, it will continue to gasp for air because it is built to do so in order to survive. And so will you.

Setbacks are sometimes required to happen so that we can grow even stronger or reach even further than before. Setbacks allow for us to re-evaluate, to try a different path, to learn from our mistakes, or to push ourselves past a comfort zone we may have allowed ourselves to remain stagnant in. So it’s ok to experience them. In fact, rejoice that you have because it means you are still trying and have not simply given up and that is SUCCESS right there! 

Another thing I know I’ve written on it before but thought I would mention again is the phrase, “whatever you resist, will persist.” If you continue to resist the hardship you are feeling or the uncomfortable feelings you are experiencing, then it’s going to continue on bothering you, getting more powerful and having more control over you. But if you just simply accept it, accept that “ok, things took a weird turn, but it’ll pass,” then it will pass much more quickly and you will feel more at peace and more confident that you can face it.

I know it’s easier said than done. Trust me, when you are in the middle of an anxiety episode, I know the last thing on your mind is trying to accept that what you are feeling is ok. Of course you are going to want it to go away as soon as possible because it’s uncomfotable! Duh! But just trust me, just talk to your body, your mind, your breath, whatever it is that is bringing you discomfort – telling that you are there for it. That it will pass. The discomfort will pass. That this period of hardship will pass. That the anxiety will pass or the worry will pass. It is just temporary.

Be ok with the discomfort. Trust that you are much stronger than you believe yourself to be. Trust that your body knows how to survive. Trust that you will continue on breathing. Trust that you will make it through another day.

It’ll be ok. I promise.

So don’t beat yourself up. Don’t think that all your hard work means nothing now that you’ve experienced this setback. As Confucius says, “our greatest glory is not in never failing, but rising every time we fall.” Keep rising. Keep practicing to be strong. Keep believing that it will pass. It takes time and sometimes failure or setbacks to eventually heal and grow. 

Setbacks mean you want to get well. Or that you want to better your life. Or that you want to pursue your dreams. Or that you want to change a bad habit. It does not mean you have failed. Please remember this when you feel disheartened. You will move forward, just give it some time. Growth never happens over night and we will never experience good days all the time. 

I’m going to go rest now. I’m going to accept that maybe I’m stressed or overworking myself or maybe it’s just simply coincidental that I am having these feelings. But either way, I’m going to grant my body and mind the rest it needs. And most importantly, I’m not going to judge it. I’m not going to feel bad about feeling weak. I’m going to just let it be. We all have bad days, bad weeks, even bad months. But who cares. We will keep moving forward.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Accept that setbacks are going to happen, but it does not mean that you are a failure or that you will never move forward again. Change your perspective on it. Accept what is happening, rather than resisting it, and trust that it will pass. In the meantime, nourish your body or mind with what it needs, so that you can move forward when you’re ready

xx

Christina
P.S don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @The.Self.Love.Challenge ! 

 

 

On Learning How to Laugh at Yourself.

Image result for to laugh at yourself is to love yourself

I’ve never been the funny one. In fact, I’ve always been the responsible, serious one. And it could be why I take life so seriously and have pretty much forgotten how to laugh, especially at myself. You may be wondering, laugh at yourself? Why would you ever want to laugh at yourself? Isn’t that kind of like making fun of yourself? Isn’t that mean?

Not really. I’m learning that it’s a good thing to be able to laugh at yourself, because it means that you are accepting that you are not perfect and that it’s ok not be perfect. So when you don’t know how to laugh at yourself, like me, it usually means that you are either a) too serious about life, b) a perfectionist who has unrealistic expectations of yourself, or c) both. I am obviously both and I think those of us who do struggle with being able to easily brush off those moments when we inevitably fall short fall into the same category.

I don’t know when I began to take life too seriously. Maybe it was after my parents’ divorce. There’s something about childhood trauma that dampens your sense of humor. Or maybe it was a culmination of that plus other challenging life events over the years that took away my ability to chuckle. Regardless, I’ve always been more on the serious side anyway. For someone who struggles with insecurity, it can be difficult to just “laugh it off.”

Whenever I am struggling with a wearisome situation, I notice that in my mind I am completely focused on that situation and solving that situation alone. I forget that life goes on. I forget that I am allowed to have a good time, even if something terrible or difficult is happening simultaneously in my life. I tend to believe that if things aren’t completely happy or going well, then I do not have permission to laugh, especially at myself. As if laughing equates to being irresponsible or taking things too lightly, which somehow is looked down upon according to my standards.

But I think that’s exactly the problem. I am not living “light” enough. I am living too “heavy” instead. I am allowing my problems or personal shortcomings to weigh me down, when instead I should be living life in a lighter way, allowing room for grace and softness.

I realized this after listening to another episode of Liz Gilbert’s Magic Lessons podcast. She was speaking to a dancer who had a hard time bringing her ideas to reality because she was afraid of how they would be received or whether they were meaningful enough to the world. She kept repeating that it was simply too “hard,” to do and Liz advised her that she was the one who was making her life “hard” by putting such a restriction on her creativity. She said that she should be living a “lighter” life instead, one where she just creates what she feels without thinking twice about how her art would be received, and basically giving herself that space to create without worry or fear.

It reminded me of what I do when I am stressed. I become too hyper aware of what is causing me stress and I place all of my focus on that one thing, allowing myself to obsess over it and be consumed with it entirely. I forget that life is still in existence and that I don’t have to always be the perfect, responsible one. That there is room for growth and learning and experience. That I am allowed to make mistakes. That I don’t have to get it right the very first time. That there is no time limit in getting things done the way I expect them to.

Of course, I still want to work hard and perform a job well done, but if I don’t, and inevitably end up making a fool of myself or performing less than par, then it’s ok. And I should be able to just laugh it off, all the while telling myself, “nice try, you’ll get it next time,” or “just try something different.”

What I am trying to get at is we don’t have to be perfect all the time, even with life.

It’s great if we do seem to get it right, but it’s also ok if we don’t. Let me give you an example.

This past weekend my best friend visited home from college out of state. We threw her a little picnic at the park and decided to play a game of volleyball. Her and her friends are all huge volleyball fanatics, I however, am not. I have never played volleyball in my life (ok maybe once in high school, but it was for phys. Ed. and I was probably not taking it seriously.)

So my friend encouraged me to try and play with her and her group (who are all pretty much expert players). At first I laughed thinking, “who are you kidding? Me – play volleyball with you? No way. I will make a fool out of myself.” Then I thought, “why not?” Honestly. Why not? What was keeping me from doing it besides fear? It’s not like they were playing it for a real competition and a prize was at stake or that they were playing it for the Olympics and I would’ve totally ruined their team. They were simply playing for fun and they were all friends, so why would they judge me? They wanted me to play. They wanted to teach me how. So I decided, I’d play.

I did. And I can’t say that I was the M.V.P of the game but I wasn’t completely terrible either. My forte was undoubtedly serving the ball, but as far as being in contact with the ball after that, it really wasn’t my strong point. But it was ok.

They didn’t laugh at me – in fact they encouraged me greatly. And instead of cowering after 5 minutes of play, I played the entire full length game. I will admit there were points where I was about to just walk away because my little “shame demon” decided to taunt me and tell me that “I sucked” or that “they were losing because of me.” But instead I laughed.

I laughed at myself. I laughed at my imperfect ability to play this game. I laughed because I kept missing the ball. I laughed because whenever I did hit it, it would go completely the other direction. And I laughed because I was actually having fun!

And you know what, nothing bad happened. I didn’t feel like a failure. I didn’t feel like I let everybody down. And I didn’t feel that insecurity. I actually felt more confident even though I completely bombed at this sport. And the reason it happened was because I was able to look past the “too serious-ness” of it all and just have fun. To just laugh even though I had no idea what I was doing.

But if I would’ve just stood there trying too hard, worrying about hitting the ball perfectly, or what everybody else thought of me, you know I would have for sure felt bad about myself later on that day and done even worse while playing.

I think that attitude of being “light” is one that we have to carry with ALL of life. Even when terrible things happen to us. We have to be able to learn to see the humor in it, even if the humor means just being grateful.

Allow space for that lightness in your life. Allow yourself to laugh and receive happiness. Allow yourself to not be perfect. Allow yourself not to overly worry and just trust instead that things will happen the way they are supposed to.

We need to learn to live “lighter” lives because if we live too “heavy” all the time, we are going to feel that heaviness in our hearts. We are going to feel stressed or fatigued or weighed down. We are going to feel depressed or angry or bitter. We are going to feel self-pity and self-hate and shame. Those are all terrible things to feel and be. So maybe it’s time to take off those weights, let yourself loose, and laugh a little.

I think I’m going to try to do it more often because frankly, I like the feeling of being light. And life is way too short to be so serious and miserable all the time. Worry never gets you any closer to solving anything. And shame never makes you perform any better. So why indulge in those things unnecessarily?

Laugh instead. They don’t say laughter is the best medicine for no reason.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Learn to laugh at yourself. Learn to allow room for “lightness” in your life. Try an activity which you know you are not that good at, and then be ok with how you perform – even if it’s bad. Laugh at yourself if it’s bad. Laugh at yourself it I’s good! But regardless, don’t let anything weigh your down.

xx

Christina

P.S Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram at @The.Self.Love.Challenge !

Nothing Great is Ever Easy.


“Nothing in life that is great is easy. If it were easy then it wouldn’t be great.” – Who Says You Can’t? You Do, Daniel Chidiac
How come nobody ever told me that truth telling is hard? Or that loving other people is hard? Or maybe that loving yourself is very hard? And that being a kind person is hard? Or that being an authentic person in a very surface-level world is extremely hard? Or how about that being consistantly creative and not giving into your fears is, you guessed it…hard.

You can tell that today I’m kind of at this fork in the road where I’m asking myself if I want to keep going. I feel like I am failing at life. Can I just be honest for a moment? I think so.

I feel like I am trying so incredibly hard to get it “right” and yet I keep failing. I keep getting it wrong. I keep sucking at being a loving person. I keep sucking at loving myself. I keep sucking at pursuing my creativity and instead I just keep giving up on it because, frankly, I get lazy and I just don’t feel like it or maybe fear gets in the way, I don’t know! But either way, I keep failing.

And yet, I’m sure if Liz Gilbert were here listening to me whine about how much of a failure I believe myself to be she would tell me to stop it. Because am I really failing if I am continuing on with my journey? Am I really failing if I continue on trying to do better?

She quotes Clive James in her book, Big Magic, saying that “failure has a function. It asks you whether you really want to go on making things.”

So here I am.

Do I want to go on? Do I want to keep on being a truth teller? Do I want to keep trying to love other people even if I can’t seem to get it perfect all the time? Do I want to keep trying to figure out how to love myself even though I keep falling short? Do I want to go on being real in this almost too superficial world? Do I want to keep chasing my creative path that I know deep in my heart I am meant to chase after?

HELL YEAH I DO.

But you know what I’ve realized. It’s hard. And great things are always hard. Great journeys are always hard. So of course being authentic and creative and loving and kind and patient is going to be insanely hard because all of those things are GREAT things.

But they are worth doing. They are worth continuing. They are worth making.

Today, Liz Gilbert officially annouced on her Facebook that she was in love with her female best friend, Rayya Elias, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer, and that she will be divorcing her husband to be together with her. This news was completely shocking to me at first because I have been such a devotee of hers and her novels and realizing that she was basically giving up on marriage (which she wrote an entire book on and even though she was never really fully committed to it in the first place) in order to be with this woman was kind of a shocker to me.

I almost felt betrayed and I don’t really know why. I mean I don’t really have anything against the LGBT community or of people’s choices to be with a same-sex partner, although I would never decide to go that path myself. But I have no hate for these people. But I think I was shocked simply because she was being so honest. Because in this world, it is almost uncommon for people to just go and be who they want to be. Most of the time we are hiding behind something or making excuses as to why we can’t be a certain way or do something we want to do. Most of the time we are simply following each other, trying to fit in, or not make any waves. So for this woman to be so transparent and honest this way, it just turned me upside down.

I felt like, “how dare she stray from the norm? How dare she be this person after I thought that she was this other person?” But aren’t I being hypocritical if I react that way? Because I am expecting her to be something she is not and therefore not being very loving towards her choices because of it?

See. That is why loving is hard. That is why being authentic is hard. And that is why taking your own path less travelled in this world that is encouraging you to just follow the lead, is EXTREMELY HARD. And that is why we become so afraid to do it – because it is so hard and anything hard produces fear which we do our best to avoid.

But then think about the joy that would come if we were to truly be ourselves? Think about how much joy Liz feels now that she gets to stop pretending to be someone everyone thought she was. And think about how great of a service she is doing for herself and for others even though it is incredibly hard to do.

In her announcement today she wrote, “I need to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people’s approval or understanding, or just about anything else. Truth and transparancy will not only make my life more ethical, but also easier. Why easier? Because untruth is always complicating – and truth – no matter the consequences – is always strangely simplifying.”

Which brings me back to the idea that doing anything great, whether it be truth telling, living a life of transparency and authenticity, being true to your creativity, learning how to love others or yourself, or simply just pursuing something great in your eyes, is always going to be hard – but in the end, living a lie, or untruth, is always more complicating. Sure, you may face a load of adversity at first, or maybe even the whole time through, but you are pursuing greatness, you are pursuing truth, you are pursuing something real. That is worth every last bit of that hardship.

If we want to make great things, we must take the path less travelled. We must put in the hard work and effort. We must go through the failure. We must push past the fear and doubt. We must go on.

That is how we can honor the greatness in us or the greatness that we are after.

So I ask myself again. Am I really failing? Am I truly failing because I may not be showing the kind of progress that may be easily recognized in the eyes of others or even in myself, but yet am continuing on in my pursuit despite how difficult it is? No, I’m not failing. And neither are you if you are still on that path – that path that is leading into the unknown that very few have travelled before you.

We could all easily just give in. We could take the safe route. The predictable route. We could call it a day and simply turn our heads from our curiosity and go on living a mediocre life. But that would be such a shame and dishonor to who we truly are. We weren’t meant to live in such drudgery.

We were meant to be real. To run after our calling. To how to love and to learn how to feel, even if it meant feeling heartache. We were meant to create. We were meant to dream. We were meant to keep falling, learning from our mistakes, and then putting ourselves back together even stronger. This is why we were created. To keep going. To keep moving onward (as Liz would say.)

So keep going.

If it’s hard to keep living an honest, authentic life and you’ve failed at it — keep going.  

If it’s difficult to love others or yourself and you’ve messed up again — keep going.


If you feel stuck and hopeless or even lazy in your creative process and have no more hope for ever creating again – keep going.

Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Despite what anyone says. Despite what your fear even says. Keep going.

If it is truly something great that you are pursuing, you wil face difficulty, but anything worthy of being called great is never easy.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Keep going.

 

xx

Christina Ciro

P.S Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – @the.self.love.challenge