Perhaps the Problem is You: A Post on Perspective

My old roommate/dear friend once told me that the title of my book should be, “The Problem is You: A Book on Perspective.” And really, I like the sound of that sometimes! We all can think of a person or two who make their own lives miserable, whether it’s as simple as complaining all the time, or as horrible as making the same destructive mistakes over and over. Most of the time, unfortunately, these people are so busy blaming everyone and everything else for their misfortunes that they don’t realize it’s really themselves who are to blame.

And honestly, sometimes that person we know is actually us.

The thing is, the way we choose to think about things has much more of an impact on our happiness than anything that happens to us does. It’s easy to let life happen and simply react to it.  Learning how to check yourself and readjust your thinking or actions can be one of the most rewarding lessons. It’s okay to realize you’re being the problem in your own life—we are human, and making mistakes is kind of our forte. But mistakes don’t have to be a bad thing if you simply choose to learn from them and better yourself.

As I have caught myself being my own self-saboteur a time or two, here are my tips for learning how to stop being your own worst enemy:

Recognize YOUR role in your happiness or lack thereof.
If you’re consistently unhappy, everyone is annoying to you, and nothing ever goes your way, there’s a really good chance it’s your perspective that’s the problem more than anything else.  Or maybe you had a rough childhood or are going through a series of tribulations that seem like they’ll never end; it can be easy to seek solace from those pains in self-destructive behaviors.  However, I know so many people with the worst of circumstances and the best of attitudes—it truly is all about how you choose to deal with it.  I think the quote below by Cheryl Strayed says it all.
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Practice changing your thoughts.
Just like you have to keep exercising a muscle to keep it strong, you have to keep practicing positive thoughts for them to come naturally to you. Important note: Thinking positively does not mean ignoring an unpleasant reality; it simply means you accept it for what it is and make the best of it. If you’re so busy focusing on how much a situation sucks, all you can see is how much it sucks. If you instead focus on how to move forward or learn from it, you’ll see more positive aspects and opportunities to improve the situation.

Practice changing your habits.
It’s hard to call something a mistake when you keep doing it over and over, but it also isn’t easy to change something you’re so used to doing. Remind yourself daily that every little step towards the change you’re wanting is a success! If you can drop your bad habits overnight, great—but if you’re anything like me, that’s a bit harder than it sounds.  Be patient and trust yourself that someday this will just be another obstacle you overcame.

Most importantly, love yourself through it all.
Being upset with yourself can be constructive because it motivates you to do better, but beating yourself up is counterproductive. Love yourself enough to change. Love yourself enough to realize you deserve better than what you’re giving yourself. Having this self-love as the foundation of your thoughts and actions is much more motivating than criticizing yourself every step of the way.  There’s no need to hate yourself for who you’ve been; life is made of phases, and each of them hold a purpose.
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Whatever it is you’re struggling with, remember that you hold all the power to make it better and get through this.  Life is meant for learning and growing, and every phase we go through teaches us a little bit more about ourselves.  There will always be times where we catch ourselves being our own worst enemy, but what matters is that we always return to being our own best friend.

As always, please never hesitate to contact me for any reason at all.  Life is easier when we lean on each other 🙂

xoxo jade

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Cheats to Beating Anxiety

This post is for those of you who know firsthand what it’s like to feel like you’re drowning in your own mental chaos–Anxiety can be suffocating.  I’ve been learning about and coping with my own over the last twelve years, and although I’ve grown a lot through it and do pretty well most of the time, I still have days that feel like I’ve gotten nowhere with it. Some mornings I wake up petrified for no apparent reason at all, the thought of getting out of bed seeming like the worst possible thing I could do. It’s not that I’m just feeling lazy and don’t want to work, it’s that being around people and forcing smiles and small talk sounds absolutely terrifying–even though usually I love talking and listening to all these same people.

Anxiety issues are much more common than we tend to think or talk about, and having them is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. All you have to do is learn how to recognize it and how to help yourself during those tough times. My hope is that I can give you some ideas for how to cope with your own anxiety by sharing some of what helps me.

Cheats to Beating Anxiety

I made this little graphic/title because my dad always taught me to view the tougher parts of life as a game, merely obstacles to get stronger & overcome. 🙂  When I reach these anxious times in my life, I just try to pull these tips or “cheats” out of my mental toolbox.

ACKNOWLEDGE AND ACCEPT YOUR ANXIETY.
Once you’ve experienced major anxiety a few times, you get better at identifying it. Once you can realize, “Okay, this is my anxiety talking,” you remove its power over you. No, the anxious feeling doesn’t magically disappear, but if you know it’s just this chemical reaction going on in your brain, there’s something empowering about that. You can remind yourself this won’t last forever. You don’t have to fix anything at this moment. This too shall pass, just like it always does.

BREATHE.
I know that can be the most annoying bit of advice because, duh, we all need to breathe. But there have been so many times I’ve stopped and tried to take even just two or three deep breaths—and it always amazes me how incredibly hard that can be. The more I force myself to breathe, the slower my thoughts become.

BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
It tends to make you feel a whole lot worse if you’re thinking about how you should be happier, should be calmer, and/or any other “should”
thoughts. Be honest with yourself—if you’re feeling sad, let yourself feel sad. Stop fighting it.  You’ll be able to pick yourself back up later once the anxiety has calmed down; until then, stop beating yourself up for how you feel and making it worse.

ONCE YOU’RE HONEST WITH YOURSELF, BE HONEST WITH THOSE AROUND YOU.
You’d be amazed at how much stress is removed from your interactions once you’ve explained where you’re coming from. Sometimes people won’t understand, but I’ve found that if I warn my husband or boss about how I’m feeling, it helps me avoid any miscommunication due to me seeming different or difficult. I usually say something like, “Hey, if I seem off the next day or two, it’s because my anxiety is messing with me. Nothing to worry about, and it has nothing to do with you.” They usually thank me for giving them the heads up and let me know to tell them if they can do anything. Easy peasy!

GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD.
Let’s face it—we can really make our anxiety worse just by thinking too much about it. Sometimes the best prescription for an anxious mind is to get out of that mind and see a new perspective. Everyone will have their own go-to distractions, but I’ve found that the two activities to really pull me out of any negative mindset are either “Make something” or “Go somewhere.” It doesn’t matter what or where; it just matters that I’m escaping my chaotic thoughts. Find whatever it is that even mildly distracts you, and do it!

And the last, most important coping mechanism of all when it comes to anxiety:

BE KIND TO YOURSELF.
I cannot recommend anything more highly than that simple statement. Be kind to yourself. In the same way you would console a friend who was struggling, comfort yourself. Remind yourself that this too shall pass, and that it’s okay to not be okay for a little while. All you have to do is survive it like you have every other tough time. Stop beating yourself up—no matter how much your repetitive thoughts are trying to—and be kind to yourself.

Anxiety can ruin days, but you don’t have to let it ruin your life. You don’t even have to let it ruin your day if you just choose to look at it from a different perspective. No matter how impossible it may seem to be, the more you practice pulling yourself out of anxiety attacks and anxious days, you will get better at it.

On a final note, please know that even if we have never talked, you can contact me any time to talk, cry, vent, ask for advice/second opinion, anything! You are not alone.

xoxo jade