It all started in childhood—as things do. I learned not to speak my truth. I learned that speaking my truth meant hurting other people—even if I was reporting the facts, even if was just saying how I felt. I also learned that speaking my truth meant that I would be hurt—rejected, criticized, and misunderstood.
As a result, I have been hyper-vigilant about sharing the “right information.” Trying not to say too much. Not calling a spade a spade when someone wants to believe otherwise. Anything and everything that I can think of to stop the hurt.
All this time, I believed what I had been told: that the hurt was my fault. Because I spoke the truth. So, I tried to hold it in, hold it down, explain a million times what I really meant—hoping to reclaim the truth of myself with someone else’s permission. I also noticed that I was not “allowed” to lie. Not telling the truth was like walking into an electric fence, the outcome of which I would be feeling for a long time afterward. Even the little stuff, the fibs and small concessions.
It’s easy to see how these experiences create stress. If I tell the truth, I hurt others; if I don’t tell the truth, I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. Throughout my life, I have come up with many creative solutions to this challenge, because I believed that I was the problem. I have never been like other people. This is not a claim to uniqueness born of an arrested adolescent belief that I am unlike others so that I can claim my individuated expression. This is a life lesson, hard-won after a lot of observation. I am simply not the average. I have spent my whole life teaching people to understand me. I paint the path. I show the steps. I warn them about the things that they are likely not taking into consideration. My hope has been that if I can create a clear enough path, I will be understood AND I will be loved. When people realize that I am good and loving, then it will finally be safe to speak my truth.
These deep wounds have not totally held me back, but they have dimmed my light. I have lived in their fearful shadow. I have lost my way because of them and not fully stepped in to my truest service: my mission to embody love and to speak truth. This kind of mission is not completed by just stepping in at the end, victorious. This mission is realized through the
deepest possible level of devotion—walking the path of life. The path where I learn step by step what truth is and how to speak it. Along the way, I have been gifted with more and more people who hear my truth even when I keep it inside. Because of them, I have become stronger.
I have also been gifted along the way by people who have taught me through their inability to hear me. While these are painful lessons, I recognize them as just as important. Because of them, I have also become stronger. So, I walk the path of this life to see myself and others as divine and perfect creations, and to offer us all the love we deserve. I walk this path to learn how to hold the truth in everything I do. I live in service to all the hearts that have not been seen and the voices that have not been heard.
It’s tough when you are being pulled in a million different directions and what seems like little time to get everything done. When one is working against the clock, this can only exacerbate the stress levels, which is why routine is such an important part of my life. Unfortunately, decisions have to be made and they don’t always align with my schedule, but I have come up with some tips to keep me on board until I weather the storm.
1. Ask for help
You do not have to go through life alone. It’s OK to ask family and friends to help you out. You do not score any brownie points by trying to do it all. In fact you may find yourself so overwhelmed that staying committed to your healthy lifestyle is much harder than when you have others to help you along the way.
2. Keep exercising
This can be tough when you feel as though you are being pulled in a thousand different directions, but I remember my former running coach telling me years ago, “no run, no matter how short is ever wasted.” As many of us are well aware, exercise is a big stress reliever. Even if you can’t keep up with your normal exercise routine, going for a quick walk or even doing some stair climbing can do wonders to clear your mind and more importantly reduce the stress.
3. Rest is important, too
If you have children you know that when they get overly tired they are much more difficult to manage. Sleep and rest help us recharge our batteries. Even if you find yourself sneaking in rest when your loved one is resting, it may be just what your body needs.
Deep breathing seems like such a simple act, but it can do wonders in helping relieve stress and tension we hold in our bodies. Just three short minutes of concentrated breathing can help lower stress levels and release tension and anxiety.
5. Be sure to eat
Remember food is fuel for your body. It is what gives us energy especially when our meal time schedule is off. Sugary foods and junk food from the vending machine can actually leave you drained, therefore bringing healthy snacks is a great option. I keep nuts, raisins and a granola bar with me in my purse so that I never am without a little something.
6. Talk with others
While what ever you are going through may seem overwhelming, sharing your concerns with others who are or have experienced similar problems can actually validate your feelings. As my therapist Ann told me months ago, validations of emotions can make us feel normal– that it’s OK to feel the way we do. And you may be surprised that sometimes others who have walked the journey can offer you help and insight to your own situation.
7. Accept that you cannot do it all
This is by far one of the most difficult areas for me to accept. As a type A perfectionist, I do not like when I am forced to shorten my workout sessions, maybe not eat as well as I should, get upset with the way things are done or not done, etc, but this is life. A few weeks of not so healthy choices will not knock me down UNLESS I allow the guilt to consume me. I can only do the best I can do knowing that it will only be a matter of time before I am back to my normal, or maybe even my new normal, routine.
8. Seek guidance from others
When I was dealing with my father’s illness, a social worker at my father-in-law’s rehab facility was instrumental in helping us locate an assisted living facility in a very short time. While my husband and I did have to visit the places she recommended, we did not have to waste time wading through the lists of facilities. It is amazing how many people are willing to help, you just need to step out of your comfort zone.
9. It’s OK to let things slide
I love an immaculate home, but life gets crazy, accepting that there is only so much time in a day to get everything done has become my new way of living. It’s OK that I do not get EVERYTHING done. It will still be here when things settle down, but giving myself permission to let the household duties slide is a huge stress reliever, too.
After 50 years on this planet, I am learning to accept that there are many things out of my control. I can either wallow in my sorrow or I can take on the challenges. Smiling can do wonders to lift our moods along with the release of the mood calming endorphins. It can make us more positive when things in life appear to be so challenging.
While there are many things in life we can’t control, there are many things we can. Life is not meant to be experienced without sorrow and stress. It is how we manage the curve balls or the obstacles in our life that allow us to grow, change and transform into the people we are meant to be. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, but having a few tips to help you through can do wonders in making a not-so-great situation in to the best situation we are to deal with.
Reblogged from www.sparkpeople.com
Self-confidence seems to be such a slippery thing to hold on to, as it can be heavily impacted by our environment, our experiences, and the feedback we receive from others. If only there was a self-confidence vitamin we could take every morning…
Fortunately, there is a simple system to gaining and maintaining your self-confidence, and you can add it into your daily self-care routine, right along with those other vitamins! Are you ready for the secret to self-confidence? It is having greater self-awareness – being aware of how you think, feel and act – and it has four important components:
The first step in creating greater self-awareness is to know yourself. Do you pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions? This is absolutely essential, because you can’t change what you don’t notice.
As you move through your day, listen to your thoughts. Are they mostly positive and productive, or do you have a lot of self-criticism or other mental chatter running through your head? You may even want to carry a small notebook around with you to record your most commonly recurring thoughts.
Our feelings are highly accurate barometers of how well we are taking care of ourselves. Feelings can be triggered by our thoughts, our experiences, and our interactions with others. Notice your moods throughout the day (again, you may want to record this in your notebook), so you can get a clear picture of your emotional ups and downs – and, most importantly, what caused them.
Finally, take a good look at your actions. Do your actions support your goals, or do you find yourself distracted with trivial activities or procrastinating getting the important things done? Consider using your handy notebook to make a list of absolutely everything you do during one 24-hour period (and how much time you spend doing it). You may be amazed at how much time and energy is lost in optional or non-essential activities.
The second step in creating greater self-awareness is to understand yourself. When you take the time to notice and know your thoughts, feelings and actions, you will begin to see patterns of beliefs and behaviors. Once you recognize these patterns, it is important to explore how they were created and how they may be limiting and restricting you, rather than supporting you.
Review your list of your most common negative thoughts, and see if you can remember when they first began to appear. Perhaps you can remember a specific event in your childhood that created this thought pattern, or perhaps a particular set of thoughts sound just like your mother or father… Understanding the origin of your thought patterns and beliefs can be a powerful first step to realizing that they are not serving you and figuring out what you need to do to break free from their spell.
The only way to understand your feelings is to allow yourself to feel them – without judging, stuffing or denying them. When you feel a strong emotion, remind yourself that it is okay to feel this way. Then ask yourself what is underneath the emotion. Perhaps your feelings are trying to draw your attention to an unmet need or some unresolved pain from the past. Discovering why you feel a particular emotion helps you to understand yourself and ultimately take better care of yourself.
You may want to review your 24-hour activity list, paying extra attention to those activities that could be considered an unproductive use of your time, energy and focus. What excuses, explanations or justifications did you tell yourself to make it “okay” to choose these activities over something else? What kind of motivation, support or resources would have made a difference in helping you make healthier or more productive choices? Understanding how and why you select which actions you take throughout your day will help you to remain more conscious (and conscientious) about your activities.
The third step in creating greater self-awareness is to accept yourself. As you gain a greater understanding of your thoughts, feelings and actions, it becomes easier to lessen your self-judgments and become more self-compassionate. Accept yourself for who and how you are in the moment, know that you don’t have to be perfect, and maintain a steady momentum of personal development to bring you even closer to your ideal you.
It can be challenging to quiet negative mental chatter and focus your thoughts in more healthy directions. Don’t beat yourself up when you get into a mental funk – that’s just creating more criticism and judgment! Instead, take a deep breath and redirect your attention to more constructive thoughts. Since your brain can only hold one thought at a time, you may want to create a list of affirmations or positive statements to say out loud or silently to yourself to replace any negativity.
Give yourself permission to notice and feel your feelings, and be gentle with yourself when you feel vulnerable. Notice if you need support in expressing and releasing your emotions and find a healthy way to get that support, whether it is with friends and family, your spiritual community, counseling, or another resource.
Choose your actions wisely. Seek a balance between productive activities that will bring you closer to your goals, and recreational activities that will nurture and energize you. Reward yourself when you do something spectacular or achieve a big goal, and forgive yourself if you have a frustrating or unproductive day.
The fourth step in creating greater self-awareness is to love yourself. When you choose to accept yourself, rather than judge yourself, it’s easier to notice your good qualities and celebrate your successes. You’ll grow to like the person you are, and then one day you’ll wake up and realize that you’re in love with your life and yourself!
Your thoughts will be loving and supportive, and you will have a much more positive outlook. Your emotions will flow freely, and you will feel comfortable expressing your wants and needs. Your actions will be in alignment with your goals and dreams, and you will feel empowered to live your life to the fullest.
When you know yourself, understand yourself, accept yourself, and love yourself, you will naturally be more self-confident. Incorporate these four steps into your daily routine, and you will be amazed at how much better you feel about yourself and the world around you!
Shannon Lee, The Stuck Spot Remover, is the Director of the Self-Awareness Institute and the founder of Inner Harmonies. Shannon is a personal growth expert with over 20 years of experience in helping people to identify and overcome their obstacles to happiness, success and well-being. Visit her website at www.SelfAwarenessInstitute.com