When Something Hurts, Let It Hurt

Let’s think about pain.

Not the physical pain you get when you slam your finger in the door, but the emotional pain your heart feels when you experience loss.

So, let’s just be real for a second. Loss is loss. There is no moving past the way it hurts by diminishing its impact. “I shouldn’t feel this way because x, y, z” only prolongs the discomfort and delays the healing process. First and foremost, allow yourself to feel it. Because feeling it, really feeling it, is a beautiful thing. Wouldn’t you rather feel something, learn and grow and be a human of emotion, a human who experienced vulnerability, than shut yourself down?

It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay to be exactly where you are when you’re experiencing a challenging emotion. Especially when you’re wrapping your brain around losing something, someone, an experience or a time in your life. We naturally go into fight or flight mode. We want to shut down our emotions, distract ourselves, look for answers, solutions, explanations for what we’re feeling and how we can move it faster. How can we occupy ourselves? What can we do? We want to run. Because feeling them seems hard.

And the truth is, it is hard.

But giving yourself the space to grieve the loss of something, no matter what you’re going through, is the most important part to moving forward. Give yourself the space to face the reality of what’s happening, accept that reality, feel that pain and be in it. Allow yourself to be sad and move through the denial, the questions, the things you wish you could’ve done differently. And let yourself cry. Let yourself scream. Let yourself release.

Maybe we’re scared of change. Maybe we’re anxious. Maybe we had something we don’t want to let go of. Acknowledge that. Take out a pen and paper… “I am scared, and that’s okay.” “I am anxious, and I’m allowed to be here.” “I am feeling this emotion right now, and I accept myself.”

Try not to think about all the emotions you’d rather be feeling. Try to avoid beating yourself up for “still feeling this way.” Give yourself permission to be in the moment your heart is telling you it needs. We learn the most about ourselves in these moments. We learn from these emotions that don’t feel good. We grow from them and evolve through them.

Fear of emotion is often what leads us to greater fears and challenges in the future. By not allowing ourselves to open up to what we’re experiencing, we roadblock our path to growth, self-love, self-acceptance and courage. We make it harder on ourselves to understand future pain, future disappointment, future loss.

And sometimes, we want to analyze. We want to understand why something happened and convince ourselves that having those answers will make the pain go away. But truth is, the more answers we get the more questions we’ll invent, the more problems we’ll create to find new solutions for. Acceptance of where we are in the moment and what we’re experiencing ultimately moves us through the pain faster. Because we allow ourselves to experience it fully, giving it the space to go through its cycle and move on.

By giving yourself the opportunity to experience honest emotion, you open doors to realizations and change. You get to be okay not having all the answers. You get to move forward in a way that gives you the chance to see yourself and the situations differently. And that creates opportunities to know what you want, what you’re looking for and who you are.

Remember that there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling what you’re feeling. Loss is hard. Change is hard. Remind yourself that it’s okay to open up. It’s okay to let yourself feel and be honest, open and clear about what that means for you. And with time, you’ll feel more comfortable with being in it instead of looking for ways to run away.

How Do You Value Yourself?

So let’s talk about value.

How much time do you spend wondering how others feel about you? Now, how much time do you spend thinking about how you feel about you?

If I were to guess, I would say that you spend significantly more time wondering how someone thought about that thing you said or that dress you wore or that awkward joke you told, than you do thinking about how important that thing was to you or how much you love that dress or that little giggle you give yourself every time you tell that joke. It would be my guess that you don’t spend nearly enough time thinking about all the wonderful things that make you who you are.

We tend to put a lot of weight into the value we receive from others. But fact is, the most important question is how do we value ourselves. If we value ourselves, those who are worthy of also valuing us will come. Because we will have standards, we will know our worth, we won’t settle for anything less.

So how do you value yourself when you’re feeling value-less?

1. Take a moment to write down 3 things you LOVE about yourself every single day. Yes, EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I suggest doing this in the morning to give yourself a little boost for your day. Go into your day knowing that you love you. And that love is the most important love. Without that love, nothing is as good and pure.

2. Do the little things that make your heart happy. Whether that’s going for a little walk, sitting in 5 minutes of silence, jumping up and down and screaming at the top of your lungs. If it makes your heart sing, do it as much as you can. Make it a part of your daily habits. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day doing just one thing for you. Only you. Not for social media, not to share with your friends or boyfriend or girlfriend. Just you. Take that time. I guarantee you will feel better.

3. Back to writing. What are you grateful for? Write it down. Because paying attention to those little (or big) things you’re truly grateful for will show you who you are. And seeing yourself for you, for what’s important to you, will help you see your value, your worth. So do it. Just try it. It’s amazing the impact it can have.

It’s easy to focus on the way others perceive us. It’s a game, it’s a mystery, it’s confusing. And therefore it’s intriguing. But it often leads to abstract thoughts and made up scenarios that then affect our worth. Or it results in real scenarios with people who are not worthy of valuing you in the first place.

Take some time to give yourself some love today. Take some time to tell yourself you’re worthy. You’re valued.

Sometimes I Get Severely Depressed. And That’s Okay.

Sometimes I have mood swings. Extreme highs followed by extreme lows. And it can be painfully difficult to keep up. Sometimes it feels like the lows will never end. Even though I know, deep down inside of me, that they will. They’re triggered by self-doubt, insecurity, fear, hormones. They make me feel weak, pathetic, lost and uncomfortable. I’ve been experiencing these deep moments of unexplainable sadness for years. I mean, YEARS. And yet every time a new one passes through, it feels unique, like I’ve never gone through it before. It feels like I may never get through it this time. And every time, every single time, I do.

These last couple days I’ve been experiencing one of the harshest down swings I have in a very long time. Laying in bed, looking for problems to solve when there is nothing that needs a solution, writing over and over again, “I will be okay.” So, here I am, once again, knowing I’ll get through this but not knowing how or when or what to do with myself in the meantime.

And the hardest thing for me to accept is that I don’t need to find answers right now. I just need to accept where I am in my journey. Accept that I do indeed have patience, even though it feels like all my emotions are coming crashing down to paralyze me. I do have the time to give myself some love while I get through this. I believe in myself no matter how many times I have to remind myself that I do. And it’s hard. It’s really really hard.

Remembering that in order to be inspired, I don’t have to be okay all the time. In order to continue growing and nurturing my love for myself, I don’t have to be sunshine and rainbows every step of the way. So much of it is just being okay with where you are RIGHT. NOW. Because we all have those little voices that manifest in different ways. And running away from them won’t do anything except make them stronger, louder and more invasive the next time they decide to speak.

So, today, I accept myself for wanting to lay in bed, not knowing what to do with my time and feeling really really lost.

Sometimes I get severely depressed. And that’s okay.

Sometimes a Breakdown Can Be a Good Thing

It’s been a rough couple weeks for me. The holidays threw my routine for a loop and getting back into the groove of things has been less than a walk in the park. I’ve been feeling defeated, lacking motivation and struggling with knowing what my next move is and where I should be going.

But this is normal for me. It’s lasted a little longer than I’m used to, but I’m used to this space. The uncertainty, the insecurities creeping up, telling me those dark, painful thoughts of “I’m not good enough.”

And last night, I broke. All that chaos, all that negativity came pouring out in the form of tears and a full body collapse. I could barely hold myself upright. It was painful, it was scary, all the feelings I’d been harboring inside just exploded from within me.

But ya know what? It. Felt. So. Good.

Sometimes we need it. Sometimes we need those moments of complete and utter emotional catastrophe to rid ourselves of that chaos, or the negativity. Because that makes room again for adjusted thoughts, it makes room for us to breathe and see things just a little bit clearer.

I like to think of it as a little reset button.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t condone breakdowns in order to change your frame of mind or as a way to excuse behavior. Don’t force them. Don’t seek them. Simply just alter the way you view them when they happen. If you can look at an emotional collapse as a way to purge, grieve and let go, then when you’re done you can approach life just a little differently. Maybe the next day you speak to yourself just a little bit kinder, you focus on your health just a little bit more, or you challenge yourself to accept being exactly where you are. In this moment.

It’s okay to feel out of control. Because usually it reminds us of those little things we do have control over – our time, our space, our reactions.

Allow yourself to break open when you need it. Allow yourself to be.

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be Kind to Yourself

Some days we feel like we’re overwhelmed by all the things we need to do. Our list grows longer and longer and our motivation shrinks. And we end up spinning in circles about all of the things we should be doing instead of doing any of it, or giving ourselves the self-love we deserve either.

For me, today is one of those days.

With each passing minute I go over the list of things I should be doing instead of sitting thinking about the list of things I should be doing. And then I pace around a little, sit antsy on the couch, watch a show, paint my nails, walk up and down the stairs seeking the purpose that’s right there in front of me. But fact is, sometimes that’s just where we are. Sometimes it’s okay to set the to do list aside and give ourselves a break. The world won’t stop spinning. Your list won’t grow longer by taking a step away from it to give your body, mind and spirit the break it is clearly asking for.

Sometimes we just have to be okay with the fact that we’re having a down kind of day. Or 2. Or 3. Or even 4. I know for me, I tend to allow myself a certain number of days (typically 2) to feel a little out of it. Then once it goes beyond those allowed days, I start to beat myself up and panic about what I’m doing with my life and “why can’t I just be okay.” But fact is, life ebbs and flows. It’s cliche but it’s true. Sometimes we have an entire week where we just need to be okay with where we are, because the next week everything could change.

A friend sent this to me the other day and it hit me right where I needed it. Maybe it’ll do the same for you:

“Every single day is different. Some days you wake up and feel strong to face the world, you feel like you can handle everything and you think you’re unstoppable. Other days you just don’t want to get out of bed, you feel like you’re fragile like a glass and just wanna get away from your reality. And that’s life. Life consists of both kind of days. Learn to love and support yourself every single day, either good or bad. Learn to accept that life has ups and downs and that is what makes it a wonderful journey.”

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind when you need to lay on the couch and draw instead of tackling whatever else it is you think you need to do right now.

Today’s Mantra: 

I allow myself to be exactly where I am. And to enjoy it.
I am patient. I trust my journey. I love myself. 

What Anxiety Feels Like

Sometimes I get anxiety. The kind of crippling anxiety that feels like there is no hope. Like nothing and everything must be solved all at once, otherwise I may never feel normal again. It takes over every part of my body. I can’t sit still, I can’t think straight and everyone who cares about me can’t say anything right (because I am in no space to receive it). Anxiety feels like currents of electricity running through my veins. It feels like waves of the most painful uncertainty. It feels empty and also full. My chest feels like a cavern of space and openness with nothing to fill it except a thousand bouncy balls. It’s incredible, what it feels like.

It’s fascinating, truly. The way everything can feel unsettled. And reminding myself that there will be an end doesn’t seem to stop the emotion, and yet lack of emotion, from flowing. It’s overwhelming. And the hardest part? People hardly ever understand. When I find someone who I explain anxiety to and they do understand, I want to just give them a big hug and hold them because we both know what it means to feel like everything is ending, and yet to know so deeply that that’s just not true.

The hardest part about anxiety is knowing it will pass but not having any clue how to get it to move faster. I want it to teach me my lesson and move on its merry way. But that’s just not how it works, is it?

So, I’ve come to a point in my life where I’ve accepted that anxiety is something that I deal with. Some days are harder than others, some days feel terribly long, and others feel like they’re just screaming by. But the greatest part is knowing, down in my heart, that I am better because of it. I am more aware of who I am because I feel this tremendous overtaking of my mind and body. And every day, I will get better and learn how to live with this anxiety, instead of fight it. Fighting it won’t get me anywhere. Acceptance will. Acceptance of the waves of emotion and acceptance of myself for having them. For being who I am, and facing it.

Every day, I learn new techniques to grow through anxiety attacks. Every day, I meditate, I do yoga, I find space to be held in my body and my mind. I write. I draw. I dance. I come up with new and creative ways to become one with my anxiety.

I used to have this idea in my head that anxiety was something I could control. That I could suppress it and it would eventually just go away. I would no longer deal with it. But I’ve realized that the key is to learn to live with it. To be with it. That doesn’t, to me, mean always sitting with it. It means moving with it, holding it for what it is and reminding myself (sometimes over and over again) that it will pass. Whether that’s 10 minutes later or an entire month, I know that it will pass. And the beauty of knowing that, the beauty of seeing it as a part of me, has changed my perspective on it.

Anxiety is no longer a burden I carry. It’s a part of who I am and what makes me so aware, so hungry for personal growth and development, so unstoppable.

Do you deal with anxiety? How do you live with it? 

3 Simple Reminders When You’re Spiraling

I’m going to be really honest. This week hasn’t been my best. And it’s only Tuesday.

But, despite the fact that I’m currently swimming in self doubt, anxiety and putting completely unnecessary pressure on myself, I know this will pass. Even though sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it’s going to, I know it will. With everything in me, I know it will.

These three reminders are what I tell myself when everything seems to be collapsing in on me and I need to remember that it will pass.

1. Everything is impermanent. 

I can go ahead and thank my yoga instructor for this one. Emotions can be incredibly overwhelming. They can feel debilitating and as if they’re never going to pass. Like all of a sudden you can just be this different person and that’s who you are now, forever. But it’s not true. Everything is impermanent. Every emotion has an expiration date. That means that no matter if it’s been one day or two weeks of feeling down, no matter what that feeling will work its course and move along. And the best part, you’ll learn something from it too.

2. There is something to learn. 

Every time I go through something tough, I come out of it feeling stronger and more capable. I get to learn more about myself. About how I deal with sadness, insecurity, pain or just the racing thoughts of my mind. With every negative thought comes a lesson. So long as you keep looking forward, keep reminding yourself that soon this will live in the past, keep those positive thoughts flowing even if you don’t necessarily believe them right at that moment, you will learn something wonderful about yourself if you just pay attention.

3. Just the next 5 minutes. 

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with anxiety. And a lot of that anxiety is triggered by overthinking things that haven’t even happened yet. Or wondering, “will I get through this?” However, by changing your mindset to only think about the next five minutes, you can get through your day without worrying about the future. That doesn’t mean the thoughts won’t come popping into your mind. But by countering those thoughts with “what can I do right now?” you can change the game for yourself. That brings you back here. To now. The present. And if you’re only thinking about those five minutes, you’ll stay focused instead of spiraling.

It doesn’t take much to keep yourself going when you’re feeling like everything around you is falling apart. The hardest part is just committing to the ideas. Instead of letting yourself lose control, bring yourself back to these three thoughts and keep doing that. Over and over again. Until you’re through it. Then, you’ll look back and think “wow, I really can do anything.”

You are powerful.

How to Create New Emotional Habits

Every day, we create habits. Sometimes we know we’re doing it and sometimes we just do it naturally as we shift and evolve as a human interacting with the world around us. We create habits that make us feel good and occasionally we create habits that are detrimental to our well-being – physically, mentally or emotionally.

The new year is upon us. And with that comes new challenges, opportunities for growth and finding strength in ourselves when our hamster wheel brains tell us we’re just not good enough.

January can be a great time to set new goals, intentions and start fresh. It’s a time to change old habits and create new ones. With purpose. This year, however, I offer you the opportunity to take a look at some of the habits you might not be paying attention to – your emotional habits.

Google defines a “habit” as: a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

I think we often think of these habits as physical. We want to change what we eat or how often we work out or what our morning routine consists of, but I believe that if we can use the power of creating positive habits and apply it to the way we react to ourselves our outside situations emotionally, we can begin to think differently.

Creating emotional habits takes patience, consistency and compassion.

1Identification

The first step toward changing your emotional habits is to identifying the habit you’d like to change. Seems simple enough, right? For example, I have an emotional habit of worrying about what others think about me. I have already identified this as something I would like to change – to become more confident in myself, provide myself with my own value and put less pressure on myself to receive approval from those around me.

Once you’ve recognized the emotional habit, write it down.

2. Intention Setting

The second thing you want to go ahead and do is write down how you’d like to replace this emotional habit with intention setting. Take a moment and think about how you’d like to handle these situations moving forward. For me, it means being confident in what I say, how I act and what I believe in. If I am behaving in a way that is true to myself and honors my values, I will not question whether or not others approve of me.

What emotional habit would you like to take up?

3Recognition

The third step in these habitual changes is recognize when you’re doing it. The key to this step is to NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP. Did I make that clear? Recognizing when you’re feeding an emotional habit you don’t like and beating yourself up for feeding an emotional habit you don’t like are two very different things. And it’s important for the health of these changes to make sure you know that.

Recognizing your emotional habits is to simply acknowledge when you have reacted to a certain situation with the previously identified emotion.

4. Reminders

Now that you’ve started to recognize each time said emotional habit comes up, it’s time to revisit your intention and instead of focusing on the way you reacted to a certain situation, focus on how you’d like to react in the future. And write about it. Or paint about it. Or sing about it. Whatever it looks like to you. Just repeat it to yourself.

For me, it means telling myself: “I define my value.” Even if you don’t believe it right then when you’re saying it, over time you will begin to ingrain this new way of emotionally responding and train yourself to acknowledge the positive instead of the negative. Which brings us to…

5. Patience and Compassion

Creating new emotional habits requires patience and compassion. Love yourself through the change. Love yourself for recognizing patterns you wish to change. And love yourself for being strong enough to stick with it. Don’t get wrapped up in the self-doubt. And if you have a moment where you do, just redirect that focus.

Don’t beat yourself up for it. Never beat yourself up for your challenges.

Sometimes It’s Hard to Remember Why You’re Special – This is for those moments

Sometimes it’s hard to remember. Sometimes we forget why we’re here and why we matter – to ourselves, to those around us. Sometimes that doubt can get really scary and dark and lonely. I know because I’ve been there. I recognize when these feelings come on, but now I have ways to combat them. Because I am complex, because I have many emotions, things will always get a little challenging sometimes. Emotions are real, and they have very real things to tell us. So, what I like to do when I’m having trouble remembering why I’m special is to start writing. If you’re not a writer, but maybe a musician or artist, or maybe you just like to think things through, you can use the simple two tips below in unique ways to check back in and remind yourself exactly why you’re special and why you matter.

1. Write down all the reasons you’re doubting myself 

This may seem like we’re going backwards, but it’s a really great place to start. Why? Because you can get all the junk floating around in your head out onto paper. Think of it as a way of ridding yourself of the negative thoughts. By getting them all out there, with intention, it’s like removing them from your head so you don’t have to burden yourself with them anymore. Especially if you think of it that way.

Tell yourself, “I’ll take as much time as necessary to write down every doubt I’m feeling right now and when I’m done, I’m done thinking about them.” You can remind yourself that if you need to readdress them later, you can, because they’ll be written down. So you won’t need to go over them again and again in your head. You’ve saved all your precious doubts in one place.

2. Write down all the reasons you love yourself

Even if this list seems to be shorter than the first, it will be more impactful in the long run. However, because our doubts can seem to flow from us like a river, we can struggle with thinking of the positive. Force yourself to go through the things you really do appreciate about your personality. Are you kind? Giving? Thoughtful? Artistic? Musical? What have you done recently that you’ve been proud of? And when those seeds of doubt start to replant themselves, write something else that shuts it down.

For you, depending on the headspace you’re in at the time, this might mean trying really hard to think of those things that make you the beautiful person you are. So just do your best. And most importantly, don’t doubt yourself because you can’t think of more than three things in this moment. Those three things are the most important, and as time goes on the list will grow.

3. Choose your takeaway

After you’ve completed your writing exercises, choose the one positive thing that you’ll take with you through your week. Use that positive thought as your mantra to push through each doubt that comes to your mind. Write it down and put it in the book you’re reading, writing on your mirror, add it as a daily reminder on your phone (or better yet, take a photo and make it your background for a week). See how you feel after taking the time to pour these positive thoughts over yourself.

Then, when the following week comes, try doing it all again.

 

3 Reasons to Keep Believing in Yourself

Over the last few weeks, my belief in myself has become both more challenging and more beautiful in a variety of ways. Because of the experiences I have been facing, it has required a conscious recognition of who I am and why I love that person.

Throughout this, there are a few reminders I tell myself on a daily basis to accept myself, the place that I’m in and where I am going in my life. I thought it would be helpful to share some of those reminders here so you have something to turn to when self-doubt creeps in.

1. The challenges are all a part of the process.

Sometimes it can seem like the whole world is falling apart right in front of your eyes. But the beauty you have to look for is that with every challenge you face, there is a lesson to be learned. If you pay close attention, you can start to see that each challenge happens for a reason, to get you to a better place in your life or give you a reason to try something new or different. Emotions can be challenging, the way they creep in and out and feel uncontrollable. But if you can trust that the challenge at hand will eventually pass, you’ll be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel – even if that’s just a light you’ve created for now.

Stepping outside of the challenges and seeing how they might benefit you in the long run can be not only a beneficial technique, but also give you something to do and something to distract yourself with. And if you distract yourself long enough, the circumstances will naturally evolve. 😉

Look back on previous experiences you’ve had. Have you faced challenges before? How is what you’re going through now different than what you’ve experienced before? Did you get through what challenged you in the past? When you can start to take a step back and look at your life in the big picture, instead of what is happening right now, you get a bigger perspective that backs up the belief that you are capable of getting through each and every challenge that rockets your way.

The challenges are what make you who you are.

2. You’ll find growth every time you hit rock bottom. 

This one connects directly to the point above. Because once you determine that the challenges are okay, they’re a part of the process and you’ll learn something from them, you can start to see the growth in yourself every time you conquer a hard time in your life. It will become easier with time – to see what you’re going through and think to yourself “I know I will learn something from this, I will grow from this and be a better person because of it.”

It’s not easy to change your frame of mind. I’m definitely not going to pretend that it is. But it is a good place to start reminding yourself so you can find your way back to believing in who you are. The more you remind yourself, the more natural it will become. It’s all about training your brain to believe a thought or concept that builds you up and encourages you to keep pushing forward.

The challenges are what make you who you are, the growth is the beauty that comes from those.

3. No one determines your worth except for you. 

This one is really important. And likely the hardest one to wrap your brain around. Because we are constantly around others – people we love, people we dislike, people we don’t understand – it’s hard to separate yourself from what they think of you. When someone says something hurtful or does something behind your back, it hurts your belief in yourself and shakes your confidence. But you have to remember, what do you think of you? Do you think you deserved that hurt? Because as soon as you can start to recognize that usually when someone does something hurtful, it actually has nothing to do with you, the better off you’ll be.

Your worth is determined by you and you alone. There is no one who knows you better than you do and the more you believe in the worth you have, the less you will be affected by those who don’t value you. You are beautiful the way you are and your experiences make you that person, and the person you’ll become. Give yourself room to retrain your brain to believe in yourself every time you face a new experience that shakes your confidence.

The challenges are what make you who you are, the growth is the beauty that comes from those, and your worth is determined only by you.

Believe you are worthy.