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 !

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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 

#Mood

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Gosh. I am sooooo unbelievably lazy today. Am I allowed to say that as a wellness advocate?

OF COURSE I AM ALLOWED TO SAY THAT.

You know why? Because nobody is perfectly happy and upbeat 100% of the time and if they are they are probably on something.

So it’s not a mystery that today is a major “off” day. And that’s ok. We all have them! And you’re really fooling yourself if you think that you can be “on” all the time. Honestly, I don’t even think it’s good to be “on” all the time because then it means you are pushing your body and mind into overdrive.

We need those moments of rest. That is why rest was created in the first place. And usually when we have an “off” day, it’s most likely a side effect of pushing ourselves too hard lately, which I am totally guilty of.

Sometimes “off days” aren’t a cause of pushing ourselves or working too hard. Sometimes “off days” are caused by sadness or anxiety or some kind of hard situation. And that’s even OK.

Today is my “off day.” Why? Well, probably because I’ve been over stimulating my mind too much lately – with all of this excitement, worry, then stress, then anger, then sadness, then anxiety, and everything else in between – I’ve been like a frazzled wire. The month of August has been pretty non-stop for me and I think my body and mind have finally had it. They are forcing me to take a break by creating this fog of laziness and I’m kind of thankful for it, because I am pretty beat.

I think I’m going to take this little moment for myself. Normally, I would guilt myself into feeling bad, like I’m not doing enough “important” things with my time, or equating laziness to something negative. But I really think it is almost essential to be lazy sometimes in order to live a healthy, balanced life.

Sometimes you just want to come home after a long day at work, change into your PJ’s, grab some popcorn and M&M’s, and literally do nothing except binge watch Netflix.

And I repeat. It’s totally OK.

So I wasn’t going to write today, but I figured it’s Wednesday, or hump day (weekend is almost here! Yay!), and I really am trying to write more often (here I am striving again) so why not make myself an example and write about how unmotivated and lazy I feel. Because that is exactly what my readers want to hear from me, supposed self love and wellness advocate, right?

But you know what I say, I say I think it’s great to reveal my imperfect side. I don’t want to be one of those “normal” wellness blogs that seem to be so encouraging and freakishly upbeat all the time. That is SO boring. I want to be more real – to show others that life really isn’t perfect and you don’t have to have it all together ALL THE TIME. I want to show that I still struggle and I’m still learning and that you shouldn’t feel guilty or bad about yourself if you haven’t been able to get it quite right. Because I don’t half the time. I think it’s important to be authentic and vulnerable. I think that’s what helps build a stronger community and allows others to feel at ease about their own issues. And that’s my goal anyway, to create that “me too” feeling. Because we are all in this together, whether you are too afraid to admit it or not.

But just in case you don’t really want to stay in your current #mood for too long, I do have some tips – things that I like to do to comfort myself and help me cope when I am in the “meh” mood. (see definition below)

 Meh (adjective): word describing a feeling of not quite being happy, yet not quite being sad. More so a feeling of laziness and lack of motivation. A way of describing an “off day.” 

  1. Write it out.

Even if you’re not a writer, doesn’t mean you are incapable of writing. When I say write it out, I literally mean write every single thing you are feeling in that moment. This is useful for times when you are feeling more emotional – sad, angry, anxious, etc. Your grammar, punctuation, or even spelling don’t have to be correct. Simply write word or phrases, even sentences of what’s going on in your head and sometimes that exercise alone can help you release whatever turmoil you have inside and help you move along to a better emotional state.

2. Walk or Exercise it out.

If you really aren’t a writer by any means at all, try doing something more physical. Walking or exercising it out through yoga or cycling or whatever, can actually help release a ton of pent up emotions as well. Whenever I feel particularly anxious, I make sure to do a gentle yoga session even if I don’t feel like it at first, because usually by the end, I feel completely relieved and can breathe again. Try taking a walk in nature or around the block. Separating yourself from your mind for a bit by doing something physical with your body can be a great solution to easing your emotions.

3. PJ’s and popcorn.

Sometimes you really do just want to wallow in your “meh” feeling and not get out of it through writing or exercising it out. And that’s ok. Give yourself permission to literally be lazy for one whole day, or one whole hour, or even 30 minutes if you’re really busy and have some kind of mandatory commitment. Tell yourself that you can literally just sit there in your comfort clothes and stare at the wall if that’s what you want to do. Or go all out, grab some snacks, put on some trashy TV and zone out. Highly recommended for days when you can’t even deal anymore or are just too tired to think.

4. Cuddle party.

Feeling super down? Grab something or someone super cuddly and just relish in that moment of affection. Maybe you have a pet that you could spend some time with. A parent? A sibling? A friend? A significant other? I’ve read that hugging releases oxytocin (the happy chemical) in the brain which can give us a huge boost of warm and fuzzy feelings. Maybe you two can even have a lazy day together.

5.  Treat Yo’ Self.

Who says money can’t buy happiness? Just kidding. But it doesn’t hurt to go an indulge in a little present for yourself. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a new book or a cupcake from your favorite bakery. Why not treat yourself on an “off day”? There’s no need to wait for special occasions. We are all deserving of a little self love and treating ourselves to something small is a great way to show it. Whenever I feel “meh”, I make sure to try to do something nice for myself – most of the time it involves some form of chocolate. Just saying.

So. That’s my post. It might be a lot of fluff and nothing too deep. But I still think it’s a worthwhile read, especially when you’re feeling a bit “meh” like I am. The other thing I want to strain before I go and have my own lazy day is to make sure you DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT guilt yourself for feeling like this. There is no reason for us to be striving to feel and be 100% perfect and happy all the time, so when we do feel off balance, let us not indulge in making ourselves feel bad. That is self love rule #1. BE KIND TO YOURSELF. And shaming ourselves is not being kind.

Well, folks. Off I go to Netflix land. I will be indulging in plenty of chocolate and probably finishing off the last season of Mad Men. I wish you all a very happy (lazy) Wednesday.

The Self Love Challenge:

Feeling a bit off? Give yourself permission to have an “off day.” Be lazy. Rest. Rejuvenate. Relax. Don’t push yourself into believing you must be doing something important all the time in order to feel like you are enough. If you’re tired, overwhelmed, anxious, sad, angry, or anything related – then just chill. It’s OK.

xx

Christina

p.s. Don’t forget to follow my new Instagram account @The.Self.Love.Challenge !

 

 

 

Fear: The Passenger. 


Hello lovelies.

Happy Monday. (not really). Ok I shouldn’t really be so down on Monday. I mean what did it do to me? Nothing, except create the start of a brand new week. I should be thankful for that. Thankful that I am allowed to even see and experience a brand new week, or even a brand new day. Yeah, it kind of sucks having to go back to work and the hectic daily life routine, but maybe if our attitudes weren’t so negative, and instead we found a sense of thankfulness, we wouldn’t feel so unmotivated on Mondays.

So really. Let’s start over. HAPPY MONDAY! 

::big smile::

Today I come to talk to you about my little pal called “fear.” Me and this guy (or gal – who knows?) have had quite the relationship for some time. I can’t really say that it’s been a very happy one, but it has been quite the task trying to make him (or her) go away and leave me alone. Because really, nobody likes fear. It makes you panic. It makes you feel uneasy. It makes you feel like you’re about to die sometimes. And it just plain sucks, kind of like Mondays, right?

Well, just like my Monday analogy, I’ve decided to turn my attitude around towards fear. Start to look at him or her as a friend, rather than a really toxic relationship. I was inspired by the idea that Elizabeth Gilbert has mentioned in her latest book, Big Magic, where she speaks about how she combats her own fear.

Elizabeth explains that she treats fear as a passenger in her “life” vehicle. She realizes that it will always be in the car with her, but it does not mean that she must listen to it when it tries to scare her into being afraid of things that might not necessarily be real danger and are actually harming her personal growth journey. One of my favorite things I’ve heard her say in a few different talks was that she allows fear to travel with her, but she makes sure she establishes some ground rules, and she definitely doesn’t let it choose the snacks or especially ever take control of the wheel. She says that she is the one that always remains in control, and when fear does decide to speak up, she takes into account whether it is warning her of real danger, and if so, she thanks it. She also, however, thanks it when it’s trying to get her attention otherwise too, telling fear that she appreciates it’s concern, but it’s not really necessary this time.

This was an interesting concept. Thanking fear sounds very strange to me, especially when it causes so much anxiety and misery sometimes. Have you ever felt a tremendous amount of fear whether real or perceived? It’s absolutely terrible. Why would you ever want to thank something for making you feel that way?

But then I thought about it. Fear was originally designed for survival – to warn us of real danger. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t very good at detecting whether something is a real threat or simply perceived by our own minds. This is where anxiety comes into play.

When I was dealing with anxiety and panic attacks on a daily basis, there were moments where my “fear alarms” were going off nonstop at almost anything – and I mean things that really were no danger at all. There were days where I was afraid to shower because I was afraid that the shampoo would never come out of my hair. It sounds extremely silly when I think back on it now, and some people may even laugh at it, but it’s a real thing and real mental illness that many people go through.

At the time, my brain truthfully could not distinguish between what was real and what was just something my mind was triggering as potential danger. It was so debilitating having to deal with this because when your fear response goes off, it becomes almost impossible to make yourself believe that you are not really in danger. Your body will immediately go into “flight or fight” response and it will prepare itself to survive.

The way I was able to combat this debilitating panic was to simply acknowledge it instead of being more afraid of it. Little did I know, I was practicing Elizabeth’s theory of “thanking fear.”

Every time my mind would decide that something was scary and threatening, instead of allowing myself to go from 0 to 60 and panic, I would acknowledge it. I would tell my fear that I was aware that I was afraid. I would remind myself that it was ok. That I really was not in any true danger. I then began to give myself permission to feel the uneasy feelings, to sit with the uncomfortable anxiety that was weighing down on my chest, and I would simply move through it.

Over time, the fear began to ease up. It began to listen when I told it that there was no real danger. And little by little, the things I was once afraid of, became not as scary. My brain rewired the patterns of fear that were originally being triggered, and I was able to heal.

I haven’t experienced panic like that in almost two years. It happens once in a while, but only when I really am afraid of something that could potentially be dangerous or makes me feel extremely uncomfortable. So I’ve been pretty lucky to be able to recover. However, there are always those moments when anxiety and fear do creep up, but I am learning this new concept of thanking it and treating it as a passenger in my car, rather than the driver that is leading me.


(The scary roller coaster he wanted me to go on)

This past weekend, my boyfriend decided he wanted to take me to a local theme park so we could enjoy the experience of riding rollercoasters and acting like grown kids together. While it ended up being pretty amazing, I really wasn’t so apt to go at first.

Let me tell you. I don’t like rollercoasters. When I was a kid I loved them, but as I am now approaching my later 20s, my love for them has definitely ended. They make me incredibly uneasy and after reading so many horror stories of rollercoaster rides gone wrong, I am very wary of the safety of them.

But I went anyway. Because I love him. And because I wanted to experience something new together.

So he believes in that idea of jumping in the water with both feet in order to learn how to swim. I’m completely opposite. I like to test out the waters and get used to things. So he thought the best way to conquer my fear was by taking me on the fastest, scariest ride in the theme park. BAD IDEA. Especially for a recovering anxiety freak.

So we begin our trek to this rollercoaster and the panic starts to settle in. Fear is screaming it’s head off at me telling me to “TURN BACK” and “DO NOT GO ON THIS OR YOU WILL DIE.” I threw out all of my “acknowledging fear” wisdom and simply agreed. “Yup. You’re right fear. I definitely cannot do this. Let’s panic together.”

So we panicked. And I instantly broke out into sweat and tears and hyperventilating. My boyfriend was completely confused and couldn’t quite understand why I was so afraid because he didn’t think rollercoasters were that bad. He did his best to convince me that it would be ok and that the ride would be over quickly. But I wasn’t having it. As soon as it was our turn to get on the ride, I bolted. Literally. I jumped out of the seat and I told my boyfriend I couldn’t do it. Then I proceeded to go cry near the exit sign.

Total embarrassment.

After my boyfriend came off the ride, I apologized profusely. I told him that I didn’t think it was a good idea for us to come and that we should just go home. I gave in to fear. I let fear win. HOW AWFUL.

My boyfriend told me I shouldn’t allow fear to rule me like this. That eventually, I would need to face it and I couldn’t just keep running from it and hiding away. It was only making it stronger.

I decided he was right. My better brain came back and also decided he was right. But I still thanked fear anyway, because maybe going on the biggest rollercoaster there was not a good idea for my first ride. So we decided we would start small and work our way up.

I’m proud to say that I did end up going on plenty of rides, mostly smaller, but I did go on one pretty crazy, fast, twisty, turny rollercoaster. It wasn’t the biggest one of them all. But it was definitely up there. And I’m pretty proud of myself for getting on it. And I must say, I did survive. (HAHA!) But thank you fear anyway for keeping me safe.

(The roller coaster I conquered!)

Will I ever go on another rollercoaster? Um…maybe, or maybe not just because I really don’t like them. But maybe I won’t let fear freak me out as much anymore with other things. Instead, I’m going to thank it more often because it really does a pretty good job at keeping me alive day after day. And that’s something worthy of gratitude.

What are some things you’re afraid of? Are they really dangerous or simply perceived? Can you work on acknowledging your fear and thanking it instead of running away from it?

Next time we feel afraid as we are driving along on our path of life, let’s ask ourselves whether it’s something real or not. And if it’s not, tell fear to quiet down back there and to stop being a backseat driver, because in reality, you are in control of the wheel so don’t let it take over and keep you from living a grand life!



The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Distinguish between your real and perceived fears. Then work on acknowledging and thanking your fear, rather than giving into it right away.

xx

Christina

p.s. Don’t forget to follow my new and improved Instagram page – @The.Self.Love.Challenge!

 

 

 

 

Pity Parties: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That. 

Image result for ain't nobody got time for that

Please note: I had this post written out earlier this week, but because I was dealing with a few things, I did not have a chance to actually post this. So here it is now, semi-edited to be more relevant to today. I hope you enjoy!:

Bad habits die hard. Bad habits that you aren’t fully consciously aware of die even harder. I’m all too familiar with the habit of throwing pity parties. And although, I didn’t quite know that they had a name, I definitely knew the behavior very well. My life has been a bit stressful lately, especially these last few weeks. I’ve been throwing myself multiple pity parties. I allowed myself to be consumed with my worries and anxiety. I sat there in the depths of my sorrow and I whined and complained about how everyone around me was at fault, when all the while, it really has always been in my control.

Thanks to my boyfriend for leading me to a principle in a Wayne Dyer book called, Your Sacred Self, and after doing some research on my own, I’ve opened up my mind to learning how stop throwing pity parties and instead taking responsibility for my own happiness and progress in my life. and some research on my own.

Although I was too caught up in my shroud of misery to actually learn the principle last week when he was telling me about it, I’ve now learned that we are in control of our own happiness and our reactions towards the happenings in our lives. Nobody else. To quote Mr. Dyer himself he says,

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that is making you unhappy.”

To sum it up, Mr. Dyer is basically saying: GET OUT OF YOUR PITY PARTY AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN EMOTIONS.

Was that a bit too much?

Sorry.

But it was apparently loud enough for me to hear as I was trying to pull myself out of my own pity party and snap me back into progress mode.

Now what is a pity party, you say? It’s basically a few things. First it is being excessively self-absorbed in our own unhappiness and troubles. It is taking on that victim mindset of “why me?” or “what did I do to deserve this?”. It is seeking out condolence from everyone by whining about our circumstances and blaming external sources for our own despair.

When I learned about this definition, my first thought was, “what, no. I don’t do that. Right?” But then I realized it is EXACTLY what I do. But because I am so self-absorbed in my own sadness, anger, or frustration, I don’t realize that I am consciously doing this. I know there are a ton of us who are guilty of this bad habit, and many of us are not aware that we are even doing it.

Think about the last time something went wrong or was stressing you out excessively. Were you quick to blame outside circumstances as the cause of your unhappiness? Did you want to talk about it relentlessly to anyone who would listen and secretly enjoy when they would give you their compassion? Did you go on and on wasting time blaming things or people, when all the while you could’ve easily just changed the circumstance or done something about it to better the situation?

All signs of a pity party attendee.

Image result for pity party

Self-pity is a selfish response. It is one where we are so focused on ourselves and why we are so unfortunate, that we become ignorant to the fact that we have any real control or say over the situation. We look to others to solve our issues or to at least make us feel better.

The other little known fact that I learned was that self-pity is actually driven by pride! Who knew?! Pride makes us feel that we deserve better and when we feel unhappy and are pitying ourselves, we are basically lamenting over the fact that we have sacrificed so much or have done so much that we just don’t deserve the kind of sorrow that we feel.  

See how easily it is to think that we are not throwing ourselves a pity party. In my mind, I would have never guessed that this was all driven by pride or selfish reasons. In my mind, I was simply venting out my frustrations, hoping that by doing so, something would resolve. But then I realized, what actually got resolved? NOTHING!

All I ended up doing was blaming all of these external circumstances for my own stress, when I could have easily taken responsibility for my emotions or actions and lessened the feeling of distress.

The cure to self-pity is humility. It is taking responsibility rather than blaming outside things or people. Of course, there may be times when outside things or people do cause us pain, hurt, or frustration, and I’m not saying that you should not feel those emotions, but what I am saying is not to continue living in them so that you are paralyzed into believing that you are stuck and there is no way to get out of the despair that you feel. There is always a way out of everything, even if it seems like an incredibly hopeless situation.

So what else can we do to stop throwing ourselves multiple pity parties and instead start living lives full of abundance and happiness? Here’s a few principles I’ve come up with.

1.Take responsibility!

Instead of blaming others or outside circumstances, realize that you, too, are part of the problem in some way, even if you may not see it. Take a good look at your own actions. Maybe there is something that you might have done or said that contributed to the issue. Usually in every problem, we are partly at fault. Don’t stay in that victim mentality that only enables you to feel stuck, instead take control by understanding you do have that choice.

2.What can you change?

Once you realize that you can change your circumstances, figure out what is the root cause of your stress or unhappiness. Are there toxic people in your life that you need to cut out or create stricter boundaries with? Do you have any destructive habits that need nixing? Can you change or improve in an area in your life where you may feel stuck in – a job, relationship, personal issue, etc? Maybe it is the way you are reacting emotionally – are you a bit negative? Take little steps to create change so that you will feel that you have control over your own happiness.

3. Realize that Life isn’t fair and it was never promised to be.

Stop comparing your life to others. Just because one person has something you don’t have (yet), doesn’t mean that you need to feel that it is unfair and begin to feel sorry for yourself that you don’t have it. Life isn’t fair. And the quicker you are able to believe this truth, the less stressed or upset you will feel. Remember that you are worthy of good things and that these good things will come into your life when you are ready for receiving them. The reality is there will always be good and bad days, but just because the bad ones exist, doesn’t mean we should give them more weight in determine our happiness.

4. Remember you aren’t special.

Ok. You are special, but only to yourself (and to those who love you.) But as far as the universe goes, you aren’t the exception when it comes to facing adversities. Just like everyone else, you will face hard times and you will go through troubles. Just because you feel that you don’t deserve something, doesn’t mean it’s going to stop it from happening. Take the good and the bad. Learn from the bad. Make the best of the bad. But don’t feel bad just because something bad is happening to you. Its power over you will pass as soon as you learn to accept it and choose your reaction towards it.

5. You will survive.

Last but not least, you will survive because that’s what you are built to do at your most primal self. Remind yourself that you have gone through tough times before, and even though you believed you couldn’t possibility make it through, you are here – so obviously you survived. And just because it feels terrible right now, doesn’t mean it always will be. It will pass and you will survive until it’s passing.

 

So there you go. Do me a favor and don’t go throwing yourself any more pity parties. It’s not good for you. It’s not good for me. And it’s not good for the rest of humanity, because honestly, ain’t nobody got time for that. Take charge of your own life and your own happiness. If you feel a bit down, remember, you can change that. You can change your attitude or you do something that might make you feel better, but don’t go around complaining about it and not doing anything to make it actually better.

The Self Love Daily Challenge:

No more pity parties. Follow the five principles to beat the habit of self-pity. And start living a better life where you take control of your own happiness.

xx

Christina