anxiety

A New Year, A New Hope (lol)

Happy 2019 everyone!!! Hope you all made wonderful New Years’ Resolutions that you actually plan on keeping.

I wanted to share with you my New Years’ Resolution for 2019. This resolution is a special one because it’s actually my second year working on it.

Just so you know, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never decided to have the same resolution two years in a row before. However, this one is so important, and while I have made significant progress in it, I am still not where I want/need to be with it, so I am continuing it again.

Last year, I wrote the following:

“This year on my birthday, I decided to have a chill night in and watch Legally Blonde, a movie that I have not watched for a good 10-15 years. I watched it, stunned, as I saw a woman struggle with moving across the country and then not belonging there, and then being eschewed from society with a firm hand.

She’s just like me! I thought. But, Elle Woods handled her situation far differently (and more successfully) than I did; she never lost sight of who she was and she learned to be successful by being herself.

On the other hand, I seem to always lose who I am. I am a very open-minded person, and I am very committed to my own personal growth journey, which is an extremely good/bad thing. Throughout my life, I have been in many different places and met many different people, all with seemingly their own conflicting opinions about who I should be, what I should do with my life, what I should believe, what I should value, and how I should act. I always felt like I needed to adapt and change myself in order to fit in with my surroundings and make friends; plus, the perfectionist in me always strove to improve myself to be a better person so as not to disappoint anybody or put anybody off. You would think that those would be great qualities to have, but I’m really seeing now that they are not good qualities at all. There is nothing worse than having every single group of people or association that you join tell you that you have to change your entire being in order to please them and to fit in.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that with everybody always correcting me, and telling me that I’m doing everything wrong, and that everything about me is wrong, it gets really confusing and disheartening. After awhile, I lost sight of myself because I received such conflicting information from all sorts of different people, and I changed myself to please all of them, and then I didn’t even know who I was anymore. But seeing this movie again made me realize that this year, for my New Year’s Resolution, I resolve to just be myself in all situations, regardless of who I meet or where I end up. The first step is to filter through all this bullsh*t and remember who I actually am and who I want to be (“You used to come here and eat toast…” -Sophie Kinsella).

Let me tell you right now the things I am definitely NOT:
-I am NOT a morning person. Every morning, I hit the snooze button for approximately 1 hour and I am the crankiest person in the world before I have had my first cup of coffee.
-I am NOT a structured time-blocking person. Take your restrictive, boring nature somewhere else.
-I am NOT a Christian. Sorry.
-I am NOT a conservative, discriminatory, judgmental person.
-I am NOT a logic person. I enjoy watching romantic comedies and reading trashy romance novels and crying because they’re so good.
-I am NOT someone who wants to punt everything important to me, compromise my values, and be 100% serious to be successful.
-I am NOT an introvert. I enjoy talking to other people, getting to know other people, and hanging out with other people. THIS IS NOT WRONG, PEOPLE.
-I am NOT someone who likes boundaries. People set boundaries with other people in order to control them, and they have no intention whatsoever of following the other person’s boundaries in return. It’s their way or the highway (I find this to be extremely disgusting and disrespectful).

This is what I AM:
-I am ENFJ personality (I decided. My journey has been ESFP to ENFP to ENFJ to INFJ to INTJ back to ENFJ).
-I am smart and creative, but I care more about being creative than I care about being smart.
-I tend to share entirely too much personal info with other people, and that’s ok. That’s how you build meaningful relationships.
-I give people too many chances because I always want to believe the best in them.
-I believe in Hinduism (dualism) and transcendentalism.
-I am loud and obnoxious and enjoy singing and dancing whenever possible.
-I have a really dry, twisted sense of humor.
-I have a work hard / play hard philosophy.
-I will tell you the truth if you need to hear it, and that is NOT RUDE.
-I love all people, regardless of their race, gender, age, and sexual orientation.
-I believe that it’s possible to change yourself if you change your mind. I am literally walking proof of this, so if anybody else wants to quote Einstein at me and say that it’s impossible to change yourself without outside help, you can go f*ck yourself.
-My purpose in life is to be a musician and writer, and to help other people through sharing my experiences and teaching them to love art.

So anyway, that’s it. I am a flawed, imperfect person and that’s ok. 2018 is the year I fully embrace myself for being myself, and I will no longer change myself or adapt to try to fit in with people who just don’t value me. If Elle Woods can do it, so can I. Happy New Year!”

That being said, I did learn, over the past year, that:

  1. It is not healthy to snooze for 1 hour every morning and I am currently working on breaking this bad habit.
  2. While I am neither conservative nor discriminatory, I can at times be highly judgmental of others.
  3. I do lead with my emotions but I can also back them up with logic. I am actually quite practical! Who would have thought.
  4. Good people who have a giving heart will do boundaries correctly. I had to see it to believe it, but there are actually people out there who will both set boundaries correctly and then also respect the boundaries of others in return.
  5. Most people, unfortunately, are unreceptive to blunt and direct feedback. For it to be effective, you have to add some flowers.

Everything else still applies and I stand by it.

Over the past year, I have become much stronger in myself, who I am, what I believe, what I value, and what is right/moral/ethical. However, I still often feel like I have to compromise those things in order to gain other people’s approval. Thoughts I continually think to myself:

  1. Even though I hate the rigidity of structure, I haven’t been able to find the same efficiency as a spontaneous person. Hmm, what to do…
  2. I still need to take some time and occasionally watch romantic comedies and read trashy romance novels and cry. Not to mention, sing and dance and harmonize and do arts and crafts and take long walks in nature.
  3. It’s really, really hard to become an extrovert again after you have been acting like an introvert. Sorry. Working on it.
  4. Still learning how to be vulnerable and share stuff and have it all turn out ok in the end. Hopefully this post goes over well.

Generally speaking, 2019 will be the year that I finally become comfortable in my own skin. I will truly embrace myself for being myself, flaws and imperfections and all. I will learn how to be myself despite pressure from others who want me to change. I will be able to retrain my thinking of personal growth from perfectionism to mastery and be able to distinguish a good change from a bad change. This will be the year that I will shine bright like a diamond.

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The Rumination Antidote

Do you find yourself continually lost in thought? Do you find that as you go about your daily business at work, at home, or out with friends, negative thoughts seem to intrude into your consciousness and distract you from being present in the moment? Do you find that your mind swirls uncontrollably as you recount past negative experiences, one after the other? Once you start, do you find it impossible to stop and feel as though your mind has completely taken over?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could suffer from rumination. Side effects of rumination include anxiety, depression, stress, fatigue, health problems, selfishness, and sour relationships. If you are prone to ruminating, don’t worry. The good news is that you’re not alone — and I know the secret antidote!

For many years, I myself suffered from rumination. When something bad happened in my life, I found it nearly impossible to move on from it because I felt like my mind kept mulling it over and over and over and over. Even if something bad happened three years previously, my mind would ruminate about it like the bad event had happened yesterday. There was no escape! I felt like my mind was continually holding me as a prisoner. For many years, I felt helplessly enslaved to my own mind.

It took me a long time, but eventually I realized that the situations that happened in my life were not the problem. The problem, I discovered, was that I kept ruminating about the negative situations in my life. It was the ruminating that paralyzed me from moving forward, not the events themselves.

Once I understood this, it took me awhile before I discovered the secret antidote. Eventually, I discovered the antidote in a book called How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie. In this book, Carnegie describes the critical thinking method, which is by far the most invaluable piece of advice that I have ever received in my life. By practicing critical thinking every day, I was soon able to gain control of the thoughts that continually swirled around in my mind and I was able to think of solutions to move forward. Not only that, but I could actually take action; as a result, I could cease thinking about the same problems over and over again.

So how does it work?

Good critical thinking skills employ the following steps:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. What is the cause of the problem?
  3. What are my goals?
  4. What are all solutions to the problem?
  5. What is the best solution to the problem?

All you have to do to unpack a problem– ie) controlling the swirling thoughts that ruminate around in your mind– is to sit down and write out the answers to these questions on a piece of paper.

Absolutely revolutionary. What. A. Genius!

Not only does the critical thinking method allow you to remove the thoughts from your mind, but it also allows you to unpack the problem and actually think about solutions to the problem. In addition, it helps you to reframe your mind from one of negativity (thinking about a problem) to one of positivity (thinking about your goals and solutions). Huzzah!

Once you practice critical thinking, then you will start to really think through the decisions you make. Eventually you will become so good at this that you will start to make really good decisions on your own. Consequently, you will rely less on other people’s advice and perspective and rely more on your own. As a result of this, you will build a self worth and a trust in yourself simply because you have the knowledge that you can make great decisions all by yourself.

When you think about it, rumination is actually a combination of 1) anxiety, 2) unforgiveness, and 3) victim mentality. People who ruminate frequently are paralyzed with fear of taking action because they do not know how to avoid repeating the same negative event or circumstance again in the future. People who ruminate frequently are simply blaming other people or circumstances for their own misfortune in life. They do not know how to move forward because they are stuck in the same bad circumstances from the past, as bitter victims.

As I learned, the best way to un-stick yourself from the past is to learn how to forgive the people who hurt you and to cultivate an accountability mindset. Learn how to examine the situation from both sides to determine what role you played in causing your own current situation of misfortune and then learn how to grow from it. Improve yourself to be better or to act differently so that you can avoid similar misfortune in the future. Lastly, cultivate a mindset of accountability and responsibility.

Remember: You, and you alone, are responsible for your current circumstances and your life. If you do not like something, then think critically about it and then take action to change it. This is the secret antidote.