#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 !

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

Love Always Triumphs Darkness.

Image result for love conquers all

It’s too beautiful of a day to be sad. And it’s too beautiful of a life not to honor myself by doing what I love, which is to write. As Mark Nepo, a favorite poet of mine once said, “it hurts not to be heard or not to be seen, but it’s more deadly not to see and hear,” in other words, it is more deadly to your spirit to not create at all, than to live in fear that your work will never be received.  So with that said, I must continue to write, despite the challenges I have been facing over the last week.

If you have been following my blog, or more so, my Instagram or Facebook page for The Self Love Challenge, you would know that a pesky little individual (which I will not give credit to by name) has been driving me absolutely mad by commenting the most cruel, disgusting, and malicious comments on my posts. I do not understand why another human being would have so much hate towards me or towards anyone really, but this is the world we live in – where hate is literally everywhere.

But you know what is much, much greater and stronger than hate – LOVE. Love will always triumph hate in every and any possible way. Allow to further explain.

While at first, I was a bit disconcerted by this person’s comments and almost allowed myself to believe them (how silly of me, right?), I decided that the best defense against this sort of hate was a community of love to surround myself with. So that is exactly what I set out to find.

I made a post on my various social media pages speaking out against cyberbullying and how I had been exposed to it. I was overwhelmed by the amount of responses I received to what I said. People that I did not expect to even read my post, were responding with love and encouragement. So many others were responding with reassuring comments telling me not to worry, that I was incredibly beautiful no matter what anybody said, that I was such an encouraging person, that I write so beautifully, that I am so kind hearted. The list went on and on and my heart began to feel amazed by the loving spirit of all of these people who I had no idea cared for me this greatly.

See, this is what love does.

It always protects. It is faithful. It fights. It always perseveres even through any kind of darkness. Love is vessel of which God’s light flows through and it fights against the dark and always win.

With that said, to the person who believed they could throw me off course or halt my journey – I say, not today. The love I have within me and that surrounds me is much more powerful and much greater than any of the words you can say. And I will not stop spreading the goodness of love, even to you. Because hate will never stand for very long. It may produce temporary fear or pain, but it will never outlast the power of love.

I will keep on writing. And I will keep on expressing who I am, and to those who do not care for it, then I bid you farewell. You have the right to not read anything I write. You have the right to not look at anything I post. Why waste so much effort trying to hurt another human being, when instead you could lift them up and love them instead?

That is the antidote to all of the hate in this world. To all of the suffering. To all of the darkness. To all of the destruction and toxicity. It is love. It is always love.

Thank you for helping me see that. I may not have known my full worth before and was still searching for that concrete feeling, but after this, I know that I am really loved. And although you may never understand it, I forgive you. And I hope one day you will feel the exact same love that I feel now.

To my friends and family, thank you for encouraging me. For reminding me not to give up on my purpose just because of a minor dark spot in the road. I am grateful for this journey and I am grateful that I am learning how to truly love who I am, because that really is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Once you learn that, you can use that power inside you to spread light to everyone else.

I had another post that I had prepared for today, but I won’t post it just yet. This was much more important. But I guess in every post there is a message – so this one being that love will always triumph darkness. Remember that the light will always expose the dark.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

xx

Christina

Honestly Speaking.


Did you know that today is the two year anniversary of the day I broke down completely? I’m not sure if anniversary is really the right word to use when remembering a mental breakdown you once had, because the word ‘anniversary’ usually connotes something happy that you’d like to remember. And that moment is definitely not something I really want to remember, but at the same time, I do in this weird way. I want to remember because something that came out of it is something worth celebrating – the rebirth of myself.

I like to try to find silver lining in everything, the good in every bad you could say, because you know there is one somewhere deep down in there. While that experience was incredibly terrifying, it was also the moment when I found out I could be brave. It also pushed me to recognize that there was indeed more to who I was, and that I was made for something more as well. I figured out how to love myself. To take care of me for once, after a life full of constantly dimming my own light and making sure that everyone else around me is still shining.
This post is difficult to write and even as I sit here and write, I still struggle with these flashes of memories from that awful day that are currently making my body tense up. I remember how deathly afraid I was and incapable of understanding that I would be ok, and that I was not going to die right there. Panic attacks are no joke. And to those who have experienced one, they will understand. But for those who haven’t, it is not something to be taken lightly. They are real. And they make you feel like your worst fears are really real. And no, you can’t just snap out of it.

I want to write about this, not only just to celebrate another year of growth in my own personal journey, but because I want to start living in a more honest world, even if that world is so small and I am the only one keeping that policy. I figured I’m pretty tired of hiding. I’ve been tired for a long time and it can get pretty annoying keeping up this charade of acting normal. Let’s just be real. We’re all weird in some way. We all struggle with something. And nobody, even Kim Kardashian or Cher or any other celebrity who you might envy, is perfect.

I want to start telling the truth. After being inspired by one of my most recently discovered favorite writers, Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery, she claims that the reason behind the creation for her blog, was simply because she wanted to start being honest. She wanted to be her real self. And she wanted to start “living out loud.” I think I want to as well.

So let’s be real.

I know it’s scary. And to tell you the truth, I still hide parts of myself in some way because it’s terrifying of showing your real self to people. Humans can be so cruel and I’m not even sure why because it’s not like they are any better themselves. So what if we appear to be weak? At least we are honest about our struggles and I think that in itself is more brave and  a sign of strength than pretending to have it all together.

I don’t really know exactly where I’m going with this. I think it’s more of a post just trying to reach out to those of you who are struggling, who are dealing with something, some kind of human crisis. I want to give you permission so that you will know that it’s ok. It’s ok to be where you’re at. It’s ok to not be perfect. And you know what’s even better news – that you will be ok even if you’re found out.

I wish I knew that back then.

And I think if we knew this early on, we wouldn’t have so much unbearable pain weighing down on us. We would almost feel a kind of freedom or lightness to just be. We wouldn’t have to hide parts of ourselves that we were ashamed of. And maybe, just maybe, if people did actually give us permission to be imperfect, we would want to get help and better ourselves or our situations. But because we are living in such a pro-shame society, we feel like these weirdoes and outcasts that have to hide our true selves, which only puts more pressure and stress upon our bodies and minds, and then it’s almost impossible to get better.

I think the reason why I was able to push through it all was because of these “love warriors” as Glennon describes them. Love warriors like herself, Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, Jennifer Pastiloff, and Cheryl Strayed. These human beings did the brave thing by simply being honest about their struggles or the fact that they were imperfect. And you know what that did for me to hear their stories and to see how real they were; it gave me permission to be myself and to start living authentically too.

So thank you my fellow writers who I cannot thank enough for being brave souls. And I wish someday you will be able to know just how much you helped me and inspired me to be brave too. I think this why I have an even greater passion and burning desire to write. Because I aspire to be as brave as they are. I want to be honest. I want to show others that it’s ok to be imperfect, and it’s ok to love who you are, and it’s ok to struggle. I want to start that revolution inside of you beautiful human beings so that we can combat this false idea of perfection.

What can you be honest about today? Maybe you don’t have to take that next level and live honestly with everyone around you, but maybe it’s time to even just be honest with yourself. Because sometimes we even try to fool ourselves into believing we are perfect. And after years of doing that, I can say it is definitely the worst thing you can do.
That’s want to challenge you with today. Just that. Just be honest with yourself first and then see how that feels. Does it make you feel scared? Anxious? Depressed? Angry? Are you disappointed? Whatever you feel, accept it and then tell yourself it’s ok, because I love you anyway. Then see how you feel. Don’t be surprised if you begin to feel a little lighter and little bit more free.

And it’s a process. Just because you’re trying honestly out today, doesn’t mean it’ll last until tomorrow. You have to constantly choose to be honest and authentic. You have to constantly choose to give yourself grace. Trust me, I’m still working on it.


(Me being my honest self. A side profile photograph I would not normally post because I am so self conscious, but because I want to stop hiding out of fear, here I am.

In fact, I’ll share with you a little struggle right now. That anxiety I mentioned, it’s kind of rearing it’s ugly head right now. Not permanently and not as intensely but I can feel it lingering around and it’s definitely not welcome. My body feels tense, too tense, and I just can’t seem to slow my mind down. It’s most likely from stress, and thank God, I am much stronger than I used to be so I am able to function pretty well, but it is still extremely uncomfortable. And you know what I’ve noticed, I am beginning to try to hide it because I’m ashamed. Because that fear inside me has welled up into believing that people are going to think I’m weak for this or that I’m going to relapse and all of my progress is going to mean nothing. But you know what I say to that…

“It’s ok, I love you anyway. I’m not going to hide you from anybody. In fact, I’m going to shine some light in your direction, just so you know that I’m not intimidated by you anymore. And when you pass, I will still continue on being brave. Still being me, my imperfect little self.”


You are much braver than you believe, my friends.


Love you all.

The Self Love Daily Challenge: Be honest with yourself. Accept what you feel and tell yourself it’s ok, I love you anyway. Then try incorporating that same honesty and acceptance in your life with others.

xx

Christina Ciro

p.s.

Don’t forget to reach out to me. It gets a bit lonely not seeing anyone respond (haha) and I’d really love to hear from you. Follow me on instagram @christina.ciro or Facebook!

The Day I Quit Comparing.


Hello darlings.

I hope this post finds you all doing well. I know I only have about…hmm…100 or so followers but it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about each and every one of you. Don’t be afraid to speak up and comment back to me so we can converse! But with all that said, I hope that YOU are doing well my fellow readers of the Self Love Challenge and thank you for supporting my little project here!!

So. What do we have for today? A little side note. I like to gather most of my blog topics from a combination of what I am currently facing in my own life and what I am currently learning during my research of how to basically become a kinder, more loving, human being. Currently, I have been challenged with these overwhelming thoughts of comparing my life again with the lives of my peers. Ah yes, you know the annoying little bugger in your ear telling you what you SHOULD be doing with your life just because EVERYONE ELSE is doing it and you’re not. Yeah. That one.

And I know I have definitely written on the topic many times before, but I want to do so again because it really is something that is becoming more and more of an issue in our world today – especially due to the rise of social media. Telling you to just STOP IT doesn’t really help either, so maybe explaining a little further into detail about how comparing yourself to others can affect your life may convince you that it really is a pointless habit and is doing you nothing but harm and robbing your life of happiness if you continue.

Let me ask you a question.

How does it make you feel when you compare yourself with other people?

Do you feel genuinely happy for them?

Do you feel motivated to better yourself in a positive way?

Do you feel sad or discontent with your own life?

If you’re like any normal person, the feelings you get from answering those questions aren’t going to be very happy ones. In fact, many of the symptoms of comparison are things like jealousy, insecurity, pride, and discontentment.


There are only two things that result out of comparing your life with someone else’s; you either feel superior to them or you feel inferior to them. Both of these feelings are never good and will usually create further problems down the line.

A feeling of superiority as a result of comparing your life to those lesser than yours results in excessive pride. Having too much pride is never really a good thing because it can create a very selfish or entitled attitude. On the other hand, a feeling of inferiority as a result of comparing your life to someone who has it better than you, will result in feelings of jealousy and/or insecurity. You will begin to question your own life, and why it’s not as good as theirs, which will only become a major breeding ground for discontentment. Both pride and jealousy are never good traits to possess, and can cause a lot of harm to others and to ourselves.

I can’t talk too much about having excessive pride, although I’m sure I have been prideful at some point in my life unknowingly, but I am greatly familiar with feelings of insecurity and jealousy. Like I’ve mentioned before, my personality tends to gravitate more towards feelings inadequacy. Most of the time, it is because I am constantly comparing my life to someone else’s so that I can measure how well I am doing. And because of my naturally pessimistic disposition, I usually feel like I am just not measuring up. These feelings breed insecurity in me and then I begin to try and control whatever area it is that I feel like I am lacking in so that I can raise it up to the “standard” of what everyone else is doing.

The bad thing, I’ve learned, is some of the time we can’t easily control our circumstances. When this happens, I start to feel like a failure and blame myself for just not having what it takes or maybe I’m just not deserving. It’s that negative self talk and only feeds to our own insecurities and sometimes if we’re not careful, it can turn into jealousy, which will inevitably turn into to anger and resentment. Not a good path to follow and definitely not very self-loving.

So what can we do? What is the antidote to this comparison trap? Well as much as I would love to say get off social media and remove yourself from seeing anything that might trigger your desire to compare, I know that’s not feasible. So the thing we can turn to and the thing that we do have control over is giving up our right to compare. Yup folks, there is the golden answer. Just quit. Quit comparing.

How is that different from just being told, for example to just stop doing it? Well. It’s an active choice. It’s one that we are consciously making. It’s one where we become aware of the fact that viewing this event in someone else’s life is triggering our need to compare our life to theirs, but then actively choosing not to engage in doing so. I know it really is much easier said than done, but the more we become aware of how comparison really effects the joy levels in our lives, the more we will actually want to turn ourselves away from entertaining those thoughts.

Comparison is a game that we will never ever win at. No matter how great you are, no matter how bad your life sucks, no matter how pretty you are, no matter how smart you are, there will always be someone who is great-ER, whose life is sucky-ER, who is pretti-ER, and who is going to be smart-ER. And that’s the truth.

You will never win. And the more you try to win at this never ending game, the crazier you will feel. You will either begin to feel more and more selfish because you will believe that you are better than everyone and will try to keep up with the game of keeping up, or you will drown yourself in your insecurities, always trying to strive and match up to everyone else’s expectations. It’s a tiring game. And really who wants to keep playing it?

And yet we do. And that is precisely why I’ve decided to quit that game today. At the end of my life, is it really going to matter who had more money, who was more beautiful, who got married first, who had kids first, who got the bigger house, who was more educated or who drove the nicer car? No, not really. Because in the end, we can’t take any of “trophies” or “achievements” with us. So why waste our lives worrying about what everyone else is doing or how everyone else is measuring up to you?

Instead, worry about just doing you. Worry about the purpose of your life is and focus your efforts on completing that. Worry about how you can be a better human being. Worry about how you can become more compassionate. Worry about what impact you are making on the world. Worry about whether you are loving people enough.

Don’t worry about these silly little comparisons. So what if so-and-so got married at 22, has 2 kids and a house and you’re still in a non-committed relationship at 27. So what if you’re still struggling to figure out what you want to do and you’re almost 30. So what if you’re not making over $80k but you are doing what you love?

The thing I’m noticing is that we are all different people, on different paths, with different purposes in life. We are not all meant to be on the same path. We are meant to be on our own unique path that we have been created for. And we are not all meant to be just like each other. We are meant to be unique just like we were created to be. So stop trying to fit in and be like everyone else. Because that is not your purpose, in fact that is a waste of your precious life. The things that are happening in your life in this season, are exactly what should be happening, so don’t fight that and don’t try to manipulate it to be something else.

Today is the day I quit comparing. I’m going to quit comparing my life to my friends or family and striving to measure up. I’m going to quit feeling insecure or jealous about not being married or having a baby yet. I’m going to quit feeling inadequate about myself because I still haven’t figured out my career yet. I’m going to quit feeling discontent because my life didn’t turn out to be what I pictured many years ago.

Instead, I’m going to live and I’m going begin living for my unique purpose that I’ve been created for and I’m not going to compare my journey to anyone else’s.

Why? Because it’s ok.

Do you hear me? Those of you who are in the same boat, who are constantly fretting over how your life is measuring up compared to your friends on Facebook. I’m talking to you!

It’s OK to be where you are now. It’s OK! You’re fine. You’re enough. You are doing enough. But keep going with your journey…and cut out that comparison stuff, ok?



The Self Love Daily Challenge:

Vow to quit comparing your life to other’s lives. Follow your own path and focus on your purpose.

xx

 

Christina Ciro

P.S don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @christina.ciro and on Facebook!

Finding Yourself Begins with Facing Yourself.


Every time I begin writing, I always ask myself, “why don’t I do this more often? I mean I get so much enjoyment from it, why do I wait so long in between to actually write again?” Well let me tell you why. It’s because I’m lazy. Yup. There it is. No, actually it’s not just that. It’s because I am afraid. It’s fear. It’s always fear that holds us back, isn’t it?

I have all these great topics inside of my head mostly inspired by all of the podcasts I listen to and influential people I research, and yet the posts are not flowing out of my fingers. Why? Because I think they are not good enough. Or rather that I am not good enough to write them. I worry that nobody reads them, and you know, nobody probably does, but that shouldn’t stop me! I shouldn’t be putting out content just because I want some kind of recognition or affirmation that I am a good writer or that I am helping someone. I should do it plainly because I want to. Because it is my calling, or my screaming, rather as Elizabeth Gilbert would say.

Speaking of Elizabeth Gilbert, this post is loosely inspired by her latest podcast episode on Magic Lessons, where she speaks of this idea of us each of us having our callings, and that if we are not truly passionate about something and it is not giving us energy or making us feel alive, then obviously we are not running after our calling – because naturally our calling should be something screaming at us and not simply existing in our daily lives.

While my post today isn’t directly about running after our callings, it is about finding ourselves, or rather just being our true selves. You’d be surprised to find out that many people aren’t true to who they are. Most people are usually either hiding a part of themselves by pretending to be something they are not or running away from a part of themselves because they don’t want to be exposed. Not many people are brave enough to actually be their true selves – however imperfect, weird, broken, or strange of a self that is. Because we live in a world where being ourselves is a very unnatural thing.

The world today is constantly telling us to be something else. Instead of standing out, try to fit in. Instead of following your dreams, do what is safe. Instead of liking purple, like orange, because orange is more in. You get the point. The world is never happy with who you are. It promotes competition rather than acceptance. But I guess competition is interesting, right? If we all accepted each other and allowed ourselves to just be who we are, then it would be too easy.

What is so wrong with being ourselves? Why is so scary about it? Are we that afraid of originality and uniqueness? And yet what I find funny is that there are all these other people promoting uniqueness, and yet everyone still just copies each other because they are so afraid to truly be unique, to truly just be themselves. They want to fit in. They want to belong. And I get it. Belonging is one of our deepest human needs. But there can be another way to find belonging – that is simply by accepting each other for who we are.

But I’m getting a little off topic here I guess. Me and my rants on today’s society. Can you tell that I have many issues with the direction that the world is headed into?

But anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that I feel that for the last several years I have been a very lost soul. I was probably a lost soul before that, but my awareness of being lost only happened a few years ago after my breakdown I guess. Up until that point, I was just like the many other people who pretend and hide and run. I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to do what was right or what was expected.

But once you almost lose control over your entire life, reality hits you hard and fast and you almost become forced with facing your true self even if you don’t want to. I think that the only way to truly find ourselves is to face ourselves first.


(Me trying to be silly – this is not an easy task)

Why is it so hard to face ourselves? Why do we run from who we are? I think we are afraid of being exposed, that if we reveal our true selves, people will not like who we are and reject us. And we can’t handle that rejection. So we hide who we are. We try our best to mold ourselves and fit in and please others, but then we often find that after a while we don’t even know ourselves anymore or our true identities. 

I feel like an imposter all the time, even now, even as I write this. I feel like I am not a writer. What gives me the credit to actually give advice or to write this? I feel like an imposter because I show people how to be happy and yet I still struggle with trying to be happy myself. I feel like an imposter because I am guilty of carefully crafting my own social media pages so that it appears to the outside world that my life is amazing, when in reality, I struggle. I am human still. I am weak still. I still struggle with so many problems of my own and yet I try and hide them instead of facing them, revealing them, sharing them, unburdening myself from the shame weighing down on me from running from them
I am trying not to do this anymore, but of course, no one is ever perfect, but we can try our best to actively become more aware and in tune with our true selves – not being afraid of being vulnerable or exposing too much to others. Sure, it comes with risks, everything we do involves some kind of risk, but I think the reward is far greater. Being able to be ourselves is truly the best gift we can give ourselves. It takes too much energy to pretend, eventually the facade will collapse. Eventually we will all be faced with the mirror with time and we won’t be able to run any further. 
I promise it isn’t as scary as you think. Once you can begin to befriend the different parts of yourself, rather than distinguish your lesser parts as your enemy, I think you will find that it’s better that way. It’s better not to be ashamed of your brokenness, or the fact that you are less than perfect in certain ways, or that you are quirky in others. It’s better to actually embrace these traits and to allow yourself that freedom to just be who you are. It’s not a bad thing. It’s what makes you YOU. And sometimes you find that you have parts of yourself inside you that you didn’t even know existed, parts that only will reveal themselves if you gently coax them out with your own acceptance. 
I’m still trying to discover who I really am. I know I am definitely far from perfect. My past is far from perfect. My present is still unfolding, and my future, I’m pretty confident will be bright if I manifest it to be. I know that I can be emotional and that you will always know when something is bothering me. I know that I try and pretend far too often that I’m ok, but in reality, I really just need a hug or someone to tell me, ‘it’s ok.‘ I think people often perceive me as shy, or even sometimes as unfriendly, but really I’m probably just intimidated or lacking in confidence of what to say, but when you open me up, there’s an entire world of wisdom waiting to be released into a good conversation. I am very sympathetic, and as much as I don’t show it out loud, I have a huge heart for hurting people, especially those who I know are going through events similar to what I’ve experienced. I want to help people. And I want to start doing so more directly rather than just hiding behind a screen and typing some words (although, writing will always be the most comfortable medium for me to express myself in.
I know so far that I want to live a life that is adventurous. I want to explore and learn as much as I possibly can. I don’t want to live a life hiding in fear or obeying to fear. I want to live a life filled with as much love in my heart as possible, for myself, for others, and for nature. I want to create change, even if it’s just on a small scale of helping a few people learn to love themselves more. 
I want to reveal myself. I want to be myself. Because I miss that. I feel like we are our true selves in childhood and then as we grow up, the world tries it’s hardest to break us down, telling us that we must be a certain way or else we won’t fit in. So we lose our childlike innocence and playfulness. We set our dreams aside and look to things that will bring us more security, more money, more fame, more credibility. We forget what it was like to simply let ourselves be. To have fun. To relax. To enjoy. 
Instead, we fixate on making sure the parts of ourselves that we think won’t be accepted are properly hidden, and focus rather on enhancing what we think people will find more interesting. We end up running from ourselves. Building up a fear that makes us believe that if we are truly exposed we will be unwanted. How is this a way to live? How is this a way to thrive? How is this a way to truly connect?
There is no connection without vulnerability. There is no trust without vulnerability. And without connection and trust, we cannot love. If we do not connect with or trust ourselves, we will never be able to truly love ourselves. If we cannot connect or trust other people, we will never be able to love others. And that is ultimately what we are commanded to do.

The Self Love Challenge: 

Stop running from yourself. Face who you are, accept it, love it, and show who you truly are to the world. 
xx
Christina 

P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @Christina.Ciro or on Facebook! Love you all and thanks for the support!

Vacation Reset: 3 Principles for a More Fulfilling Life. 


(Beautiful sunflowers from my sweetheart!)


Howdy y’all!
I am currently in a great mood! Could you tell? I mean if the faux Southern accent doesn’t give it away, maybe the uplifting tone of this post will. Anyway, I am back from my vacation – another year older (wiser, hopefully) and I’m feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to write something new.

The past week I have been traveling up the central coast of California, all the way from Solvang to Santa Cruz and everything in between. I decided this year for my birthday I wanted to do something a little different and explore several cities instead of just staying in one place. Let me tell you – it was awesome! Hectic at times, because of the unexpected cold weather and accommodation mishaps, but still awesome nonetheless.

Traveling has always been a favorite hobby of mine. I think I get off on the idea of exploring new things, places I haven’t been, tasting foods I haven’t experienced, seeing things I haven’t really seen, and crossing paths with different cultures and people that I normally wouldn’t witness in my everyday life. I think of it more as “adventuring” rather than traveling. To me, traveling sounds too boring – go somewhere, stay somewhere, be a tourist. But “adventuring” is much more than that. It’s really diving deep and opening up your eyes to a different way of seeing things.

So I went adventuring. And I realized that when you are adventuring, you really must embody the type of personality that is really laid back. Adventuring is not about control AT ALL. Traveling, maybe, I mean you have your planned out itinerary and everything all organized and scheduled, but with adventuring, you really having to leave some room for the unexpected.


Being the control freak that I am, this definitely does not come naturally to me, as much as I very much want it to. So it’s usually not until the middle-ish end of the vacation where I can finally just let go and be present, enjoying the moments of adventure as they come. I have done a ton of traveling in my life, but more recently I am doing more adventuring. I am learning that it’s ok not to be in control of every little detail and that it really ends up to be more fun and more memorable that way.

So this is what I’ve learned from my adventures, and I wanted to share it because I think most of these principles can be carried on to everyday life and not just while on vacation (but it does make the vacation much more enjoyable if you can follow them!). 

Learn to Step Away from Control.

Like I mentioned earlier, I am the biggest control freak. I literally spent the weeks prior making lists from what I was going to pack to what we were going to do to how much exactly we were going to spend on each part of the trip. While it’s good to be organized and have some sort of loose structure regarding what your goals are for the trip (or for your life), I think it’s equally as important to leave room for some mystery. Being too predictable is boring. You don’t want to plan out every single thing, because what happens is you begin to create BIG expectations, which inevitably won’t go the way you want them to, which then leads to major disappointments.

So don’t plan every single thing out. Have a general goal of what you’d like to do but don’t allow yourself to latch on to a specific outcome. Be ok with whatever outcome does happen so that you won’t feel a huge sense of disappointment when you don’t get to do everything you wanted the way you wanted to.

My boyfriend is super laid back, and I’m kind of a mix between too uptight and easy going once I’m in the right conditions. In the beginning of our trip, I had my super control freak hat on and I wanted everything to be on schedule. I didn’t want to waste a precious minute of my vacation time. I wanted us to be out of the house before 10am and preferably at our first stop in Solvang by 1pm at the latest. Long story short, it didn’t go that way. In fact, we didn’t even get there until around dinner time at 5pm. And while at the time, I was a bit stressed out by our late arrival, I’m not looking back and realizing that I could have easily shifted my attitude and enjoyed the journey up rather than being so focused on our end destination.

I notice I tend to do that with life too, just to draw a comparison. I am so focused on these end goals of what I want my life to be like, that I forget that it takes time (along with many other things) to arrive there. It’s really not all about the destination; it’s more about the journey and the moments before arriving. And you have a choice to either be present and enjoy those moments for whatever they are, or not. 

Sadly, I kind of chose not to enjoy the trip up and all of my boyfriend’s silly pit stops. Instead, I chose an attitude of stress and tension, which only put me in a bad mood and robbed me of my joy. Luckily, because my boyfriend is so encouraging, he helped me to recognize my attitude and helped me to shift it fast. We ended up having a really great evening and I was able to let go of the expectations I was holding on to, which made it much more enjoyable from that moment on.


(Being silly in the giant clog in Solvang, CA)

Who Cares about Perfection.

The second thing I learned kind of the sister to control and expectations and this is good ol’ perfection. Perfection always comes as a result of wanting control. When you want control, you want things to work out perfectly and when you feel like things aren’t perfect, you feel like it is because you don’t have enough control. It being my birthday and all, I wanted things to be picture perfect. I wanted the beautiful dinner, the flowers, the gifts, the phone calls, the showering of attention, the special treatment, and everything else that comes along with feeling like a princess on your birthday. I also wanted it to be social media worthy so that I could show off my wonderful day and how much fun I was having.

While my birthday wasn’t really lacking any fun, it was definitely lacking the perfection I had expected and most of it was caused by my own selfish expectations, believing that I deserved this and that just because it was my birthday. Then I would get pouty, because I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. What a way to be ungrateful, right? So what if I didn’t wake up to a bed of roses and breakfast in bed? So what the weather turned out to be so cold that I couldn’t wear my specially picked out dress at dinner? So what if I didn’t get to blow out some candles and post it on Instagram? It was still SO AMAZING and the people that really mattered in my life did the best they could to show me how special I was to them, and I appreciate that.

Yeah, the weather was cold in Big sur. I didn’t get to look extra pretty on my birthday because I had to wear 2 sweaters and an overcoat to my romantic dinner. And I couldn’t really go shopping because there was a blackout in the town and everything was closed. But it was still amazing. I woke up that morning next to my sweet boyfriend wishing me happy birthday. I got to experience traditional Danish pancakes for breakfast in Solvang, which I always wanted to try. I got to explore a town I’ve never been to for half the day, and then my sweet boyfriend drove all the way up to Big Sur, just for me, just to make me happy. How lucky am I? And on top of that, my friends and family all wished me a happy birthday and remembered me on my special day. If that isn’t a good enough idea of perfection on your birthday, then I don’t know what is.

Perfect doesn’t exist. And no matter how much time to you take to plan or how hard you try to force things to happen just the way you want them to, something will always be slightly imperfect. But it’s ok. Learn to love that imperfection, because most of the time that’s where the real beauty of life exists. Right between those cracks.

I’ve learned the phrase, “so what?” So what if things don’t go as planned? So what if it’s not perfect? So what if that person has it better? So what if mine’s a little less? So what? So what? So what…nothing. Nothing happens. 

It’s all about our attitude. We can enjoy it, or we can dwell in our own dissatisfaction. We can choose to be grateful or we can choose to complain. We can choose to make the best of things or we can choose to point out all that’s lacking. In the end, that’s the only thing we can control. 


(My makeshift birthday (cheese)cake!)

Be Present and Be Grateful.

The last little pointer I wanted to give was to ultimately, regardless of what happens during your trip (or throughout your life) be present and be grateful. Always stay in the now. I can’t stress that enough. Don’t anxiously look towards the future and be stuck in that thought pattern of, “oh when this happens, then I’ll be happy…Be happy now. Enjoy it now. Regardless of how it turned out to be. Find something good in it. And don’t be that person either who sits and dwells on the past, who reminisces on what it used to be like or how it was better before. Who cares what it used to be like! Make it better now.

Right now is all that matters. No matter how hard you try, you can’t go back and you can’t force time to move faster. You can only be in the here and now and do the best you can with what circumstances you have.

And then, be grateful. No matter what. Even if your circumstances are bad, remember it can always be worse. So be grateful for everything. The one thing I’m really trying my hardest to learn right now is to give up the habit of complaining. I complain about literally everything, and sometimes I don’t even realize it. It’s just such a negative attitude to have to always find the worst in everything, even if it’s simply about how bad the weather is. So what if the day was cold and cloudy? You got to snuggle up with your sweetheart, didn’t you?

You can always turn your attitude around with anything and you can always find something to be grateful for. You just have to purposely look for that reason. Gratitude takes effort. It doesn’t come naturally to anyone. It’s something we have to train ourselves into seeking.

So I encourage you to form a new habit of gratitude and new habit of being present so that you can enjoy the most out of life. Because really, life is toooo short. TOO SHORT. You don’t want to waste precious time being angry, being miserable, being depressed, being disappointed, feeling let down, or anything in between. You want to create joy and happiness and love in every moment. You want to appreciate every moment and live it to the fullest. Because it’s not worth it to be so unhappy. It gets you nowhere. It only robs you of today’s joy.

 

The Self Love Challenge:

To summarize, let go of control, forget perfection, live presently and be grateful for everything! 

xx

Christina Ciro
P.s Follow me on Instagram @christina.ciro to see more photos from my trip and all my other adventures! Thanks xxxx