Do you agree about how hard it is for teenagers to share their issues with adults? What do you think would need to change in order for it to be easier?
It’s the day after Christmas, and although many of you may not celebrate this holiday, I’m aware that there are other family celebrations happening around this time; and I know what that means. It means many of you are nursing some deep wounds today, afflicted by members of your family. Members you thought would give you love, but gave hate instead.
Perhaps it was an aunt who brought up the mistakes of your past, mistakes she can never forgive you for committing. Or maybe it was a grandparent who greeted other members of the family warmly and then barely acknowledged you. It might have been a group of cousins who chose to ignore and ostracize you from the family, letting you know they find you unworthy of their time or conversation.
Whatever the grievance, you are hurting and wondering why you are receiving such nasty treatment from people who are supposed to accept and encourage you. I want you to know that I’m thinking of you today, and I don’t have easy answers. Quite frankly, it makes me sick to see people act this way. You may wonder if it will ever get better. I can’t say. However, I do have a little piece of truth for you to hang onto in this moment, one you can repeat when the pangs of hurt come crashing over you:
“It reflects badly on them.”
Regardless of their reasons for being upset, their choosing to treat you badly instead of trying to solve their issue and repair a family connection reflects badly on their character - not yours. Remind yourself of this fact every time those nasty scenes replay in your mind. Then set some boundaries for yourself.
You do not have to allow people to bully you, even if they are family. Respect them? Yes. Retaliate? No. Give yourself space from them? By all means, yes! And if they decide to repair the relationship? Should we forgive them, even after the years of hurt they’ve caused? Yes. Let’s offer them the grace they should have been showing us. They are family, after all. Until then, friends, keep being yourselves. You are worthy of love just as you are, even when you’re different from your family.
I have a confession to make. In five months I’ll be thirty and my life is nowhere near what I had imagined it to be. Of course I imagined something like the all-American Dream: being successful, getting married, and owning a house. But here I am - not married and sadly living in a wallet-draining apartment. I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just stating facts.
In the last year of my twenties, I’ve wasted countless days listening to the harassment of negative thoughts and allowing them to continue to haunt me and ruin my every day.
"He won't marry me."
"I am not worthy."
"I am not successful."
"I will never graduate from college."
" I am not smart enough."
" I will never make enough money to own my own home."
" I AM JUST NOT good enough to successfully complete such dreams."
Yes, I have spent the last year of my twenties battling these thoughts EVERY SINGLE DAY. These thoughts have done nothing for me besides keep me from successfully fulfilling my dreams, so much so, that I haven’t been to school in the last 6 months and I’ve reconsidered why I am even going to school. I've lost touch with the hope of getting married and owning a home. I've settled for just the idea of living in an apartment for the rest of my life.
Worst of all, I've stopped seeing the beauty in life and enjoying how little things such as sunshine, rainbows, and flowers can be so big and exciting to someone like my daughter. Why am I not optimistic like my 9 year old child? When this little sweetie had a really bad cold and couldn’t smell or taste anything, she said to me with eyes full of tears, “Mom, I can’t even smell the flowers!”
Why can’t I be like that? It's not like my daughter doesn't have difficulties in her life. She has some real challenges to overcome. But she doesn't focus on those things. She focuses on the good in her life. Imagine, what it would be like if we lived our lives like she does, and our worst worry was not being able to smell the flowers or enjoy sunshine and rainbows?
Soon enough I’ll be turning 30, and today I am saying NO and refusing to waste another day listening to my negative thoughts. My life story may be written a little differently than others, but I won't let it stop me from continuing to pursue my dreams. It may take a little longer, I may not be where I dreamed I'd be by now, but I am still continuing its course. I won't give up. I'm choosing to focus on the good.
What about you? I know you don't want to waste another day spinning in negativity. You, too, can change your thinking. I dare you to make a change. Say NO to those negative thoughts. Say YES to being optimistic. And tomorrow... how about we both wake up and smell some flowers.?
Recently, I was sitting in a meeting, listening to someone share their story and—WHAM! I was triggered. My breathing slowed, my hands got sweaty, and I began to panic.
Suddenly, memories (and the intense feelings that went with them) came flooding back. It happened in a matter of seconds, and I found myself wanting to flee those old traumatic experiences once more.
When triggers hit, it's hard because they make us feel out of control. They remind us of hurtful things— things we don't want to relive. We can find ourselves reacting in ways we don't want to react, such as lashing out at our friends or pulling away from loved ones. Reacting to triggers in this way doesn't mean we're crazy or that something is wrong with us. It means we're human, and it's a normal response to trauma.
Fortunately, if we're aware of our triggers, we can learn how to respond appropriately. I know when I go to my meeting tomorrow, I am going to face a situation that will trigger those memories again. This time, however, I'm going in prepared. I'm going to take a short walk ahead of time, so I can burn off some of my anxiety. I'm going to take a warm, comforting drink with me and have something in my hand I can fiddle with. These are some of the things that help me stay calm.
Knowing which things help soothe our nerves is helpful in situations such as these. It's also helpful to know our triggers and how they make us respond. Self-regulating can help us avoid the intense feelings and behaviors, and help us choose healthier and more constructive responses.
Some days will be hard. You'll be angry, scared, anxious and lonely. You'll wonder if you'll ever be happy. If you'll ever be loved. If you'll ever be worthy.
Then good days will come, and you'll forget about those worries. Life will feel good. You'll have small successes, and you'll feel happy.
And you know what? That's okay. It's how life rolls with it's mixture of pain and pleasure. We are all a work in progress, trying our best to navigate the waves life sends us...trying our best to figure out who we are.
Your roller coaster of emotions doesn't make you different or alone—they make you human. They make you just like the rest of us.
Keep being strong. Keep being brave. Keep pushing forward. But most of all, keep believing.
Every morning you wake up in a fog. Exhaustion overwhelms your body, even though sleep is supposed to relieve it; but that’s not the case for you.
You force yourself to get out of bed in the morning, hoping that stretching your limbs as long and high as you can and expelling your breath from the pits of your lungs will snap you out of it.
Your body moves like a sloth. You lack motivation, confidence, and energy. Daily, you
feel sad, asking yourself, “WHY? Why can’t I just be normal like everyone else?"
You get yourself to your destination for the day, whether it is work or school, and you
are consumed in a fog of exhaustion. You can't focus. People try to communicate
with you, but you can’t seem to gather yourself into a balanced individual.
Because you lack motivation, confidence, and energy, the people around you feel it too. You distance yourself from everyone to try and protect your image, which only makes it a lonely day.
Many of us know this struggle. I know this struggle. This struggle is depression, and it’s
exhausting. I have dealt with depression my entire life. For many years, I've struggled and
struggled with knowing how to cope with this illness.
One strategy I've found that helps me cope is to count my blessings...literally. I write down every single joy in my life and what I am thankful for.
Then I write out a list of everything I love and live for... the things that make me the happiest. This tends to be the most motivating thing for me to remember — why I am living.
I also make sure I take time out of each day to spend by myself in spiritual pursuits and self care. Whether that means taking a bubble bath, praying, walking or meditating—I do whatever positive activity I can do in order to get through it.
And guess what? I do get through it, and you can, too, my friend. You can, too.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re half way there.” Never let the stigma and exhaustion keep you from believing you can.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Thinking our way to health? Yet, that's just what recent studies show. Our thoughts are so powerful they can effect our minds, our biology, and even our environments.
New research shows our thoughts have a direct affect on our biology. According to a leading cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton, "Our minds will adjust our body's biology and behavior to fit with our beliefs." In other words, the more self-critical we are, the more our subconscious minds will work to convince us of our limitations and unworthiness.
On the flip side, the more we think positively about ourselves, the more our subconscious will work to bring about a positive change to our biology and behavior.
We may not have much control over our subconscious mind, but we do have control over the thoughts we feed it. Unfortunately, positive thinking doesn't just happen. It's something we have to do on purpose. It may feel funny and a little awkward at first talking kindly to ourselves, but it will make a huge difference in our lives. Still Skeptical?
Just look at this research done by Dr. Emoto on the power of words:
We find ourselves together,
Each one bearing the scars from our battles.
—Who refuse to give up.
—Who face our fears bravely and lend our strength when someone needs it.
We turn with open arms to those who are hurting and say,
"You are welcome here."
For we know the beauty in a person is found deep beneath their surface.
We listen when you vent
laugh when you joke
comfort when you cry
and walk a mile in your shoes every day if it means it will help you
We've learned the pain of carrying secrets in our wounds is no match
for the hope we can find in the acceptance from another
So we reach out to one another--
in coffee shops and hallways,
neighborhoods and blog posts,
bravely baring our souls and telling our stories
For we are warriors
Who know the bravest thing we can do
is open our weaknesses to the scrutiny of another so all can find healing.
We come without judgement.
We come with our scars.
We come as we are.
"You are welcome here."
Do you ever feel like pain is your enemy? You wake up in the morning and try your best, but somehow pain always finds a way to slice through your happiness. And you wonder...will you ever be able to escape it?
If you feel this way, I'm sorry for the hurt you are experiencing. I understand where you're coming from; I really do. I've experienced both physical and mental pain that have left me begging for mercy.
I'd love to take all of that pain away from you, but I know, deep down, it would be one of the worst things I could do.
You may be surprised by that statement, but it's true. You see, pain is not our enemy. It is simply a warning to us that something is amiss— something's not right.
Without pain, we wouldn't know anything was wrong; and that, my friend, could be detrimental. After all, some of the most dangerous types of diseases are those where we feel no pain until it's too late for healing.
I'm not saying pain is good, but what I am saying is that pain often triggers us to search for the help we need. It causes us to find new solutions... make supportive connections...repair important relationships. It causes us to fight with the determination of a warrior, knowing healing is right around the corner.
Pain doesn't have to be a stumbling block. It can be a stepping stone—a way out of your faltering strength and into a transformative wholeness. Don't stop fighting. Reach out. Connect. Search for healing. It won't be long until you find it.
There are times when you think you are going to be riding into the sunset and your illness is in your rear view mirror. Then your illness hits you.
There are moments in life I have felt invincible from my illness. These past couple years I have been promoted multiple times, I have moved multiple times. I had my up and downs but not extreme. That is a lot of stress I got through. I was thinking, "I am a rock star. Maybe I have out grown my illness. Maybe my tools I have built are working and I'm over it."
Then when I thought I have found a future stepping stone that would be great for my future I took it. I switched jobs, I moved towards more family, my schedule is great,I have been on vacations, my life style was supposed to sky rocket. I had the worst episode I have had in years. I could not find enjoyment when it was right in front of me. I was thinking what is wrong with me? I can see that I am suppose to be happy. I know this is what I wanted. Why Can't I be??
This episode I was in lasted for months and during it I could not figure out how to get out of it. I felt like all my tools I have built up were useless. All I kept thinking was fight harder, fight harder. Life can be happy and sad on the outside but my illness is on the inside. Even when you think you are invincible then you are reminded even the strongest need help sometimes. It is ok to ask for it. God knows I needed it. I had to redo a lot of my meds, try everything I had to figure out sleep, figure out how to live outside of my battles in my mind. It felt impossible at times and I have been dealing with this for close to 20 years. I cry sometimes knowing I have to deal with this my entire life.
Now I am on the back end of my episode and thank God everyday for that. It is so hard when you are doing great to remind yourself of these times when you just can't. I know I can get better with every episode and try my hardest fighting the good fight because I am strong enough to fight through. Even though I might need help and am reminded of that every time.
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