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.
cards

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.
screen-shot-2017-08-20-at-8-50-17-am.png

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

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

Why We Needed 13 Reasons Why

Why

Finishing a TV series always leaves you feeling a sort of void, but 13 Reasons Why took that feeling to a whole new level—and rightfully so—Even though we can eventually shake the fact that Hannah Baker is not a real person, we can’t shake the fact that there are still so many people out there feeling the exact same way she did—and that is very real.

Throughout the show, Hannah (who you immediately find out has killed herself) undergoes public humiliation, verbal and sexual harassment, plenty of miscommunication, and other much more painful interactions. The variety of situations with different people that she labels as reasons for her suicide really opens viewers’ eyes to how easily we impact the people around us. Every interaction can make a difference.

The thing is, we don’t talk about these things enough. We know people are suffering, and we know our words and actions affect people, but we tend to forget that that person could be right next to us. 13 Reasons Why took it beyond simply knowing and showed us how normal that misery can appear. It showed us that depression and suicidal symptoms don’t necessarily come in obvious packaging the way a person choking or having a heart attack does. We are trained to call 911 if someone is potentially dying, but are we trained enough in how to identify and react to a person who is emotionally dying?

We needed 13 Reasons Why as a raw reminder that no matter how insignificant we feel in the lives of others, and no matter how little we know about a person’s life, we do have the potential to make a difference—if only we act on it.

It’s not that we’re awful people, just like not all of the people who were Hannah’s reasons were completely awful (I’m looking at you, Bryce). But we really need to take a moment to consider our emotional availability. We tend to want to avoid awkward situations, so we hesitate before we speak. Clay’s character is the perfect example of this. He could have saved Hannah if he had been bold enough to tell her how he felt or at least just been more open with her—but he was so scared of the conversation going badly that he didn’t have it at all. We have all been Clay at some point. We’ve built these walls around us to the point where others may think it’s impossible to open up to or even approach us.

Let’s start tearing those walls down.

Let’s start by making eye contact with people now and then—even throw in a smile here and there. Let’s start by letting that girl know that she did an awesome job on her hair or telling that guy his Facebook post meant a lot to you.  Let’s ask our coworker if they’re doing okay if they seem a little down. Let’s start putting ourselves out there to people so that it won’t be so scary for them to put themselves out there to us.

Let’s be the reason the real Hannahs of this world don’t feel like death is their only option.

Letting Go of The Person Who Didn’t Last

goodtimes

Let’s get one thing out of the way: You are the only person guaranteed to be in your life forever. It’s one of those unsettling thoughts that we all know but just shove to the side, because who really wants to think about that? But it’s true. People will move, grow apart, and inevitably pass away.  It’s not fun, but it’s a fact of life.  Thus, it only makes sense that throughout our lifetimes there will be many people who only last a chapter or two in the novels of our lives.

I want to focus on the ones who left your novel willingly—that best friend who randomly stopped talking to you or the lover who decided they weren’t in love with you anymore—the type of separation that leaves you feeling like you lost a limb in the most insulting way. You may be left questioning what went wrong, what you could have done differently, all the while holding on to this bitter resentment that they decided you were no longer worth their time.

Most of the time, we deal with this loss the best way we know how to: “It’s their loss anyway.  If they wouldn’t stick around, they’re obviously not a good friend.  I’m better off without them.”  The list of toss-to-the-side statements goes on.  But we obviously don’t feel this way!  We cherished the presence of this person so much, and now there’s a gaping void in our lives where they used to be.

I’m writing this to remind you that there is a better way to deal with this loss: Decide on why this person was in your life. Their exit, no matter how painful, does not take away whatever it was they brought to your life. Even if they were a horrible person, what did their horribleness teach you? Or maybe they were spectacular! How did that add to your life? Did it inspire you to live similarly? Did they introduce you to a new passion or connect you to a new person? Think about it for a while.

The reasons go on and on. The point is—this is your story, and it is continuing with or without them. Where do you want it to go? I’m truly sorry this character didn’t play as lasting of a role as you would have liked, but now that they’re gone—what next? How did they add to your overall theme; what lessons did they teach you?

Even if you’ve wracked your brain and cannot find a single positive thing that came from them, accept it. Move on. We are all on our own journeys and can’t possibly stay in everyone’s lives. As sad as it may be, it is the way it is. You only have so much energy in life: Spend it on the people and things that matter—and most importantly, spend it on yourself.

You’re all you’ve got—and you’ve got more chapters to write.

Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind

As a perfectionist, I have always worked my hardest at everything I do–school, college, work, relationships, etc.  So when it came to losing weight, I was sure I could do it easily.  I just needed to put my mind to it…and I did. I did in 2013, and 2014, and 2015…and I have for almost all of 2016. But instead of losing weight, I gained weight—30 pounds of it. And the more I gained, the more I wanted to lose…

Until I realized all I was truly losing was my sanity.

For me, “putting my mind to it” with losing weight was trying to have as many “perfect” days in a row as possible.  It meant absolutely avoiding any alcohol, fast food, sweets, chips, etc. If I did indulge in any of these items, no matter how small, I felt that I had failed.   I was sure if I could just train myself to avoid these things for as long as possible, eventually I’d be okay with it and lose the weight.

Although this was a noble goal, it wasn’t realistic for who I am, and it sure as hell wasn’t a way to live a happy life. It only resulted in me being in a constant state of war with myself between wanting to be slimmer but also really wanting to zone out on the couch with a bag of chips and a bottle of wine—meaning no matter how many “perfect” days I squeezed in, I would easily ruin any progress I’d made with a day or two of binging on the foods and alcohol I missed.

Finally I realized I had to learn how to let go of this need to be perfect and begin setting realistic goals while still loving myself unconditionally. Instead of trying to be the ideal image of health, I needed to learn how to be healthy in my own way by practicing moderation instead of deprivation. If you struggle with a similar battle, consider trying a few of these mindset shifts that have helped me in the journey to letting go of my perfectionism.

single

Step 1: Make Peace with Yourself

It’s impossible to live a happy life with someone who constantly puts you down. The #1 step to letting go of obsessive perfectionism is to become your own best friend. Be kind to yourself. Accept yourself as you are currently. This isn’t as easy as flipping a light switch; it will take time, just like any relationship does. Make it a daily practice to say nice things to yourself, no matter how false those nice things may sound at first. You are the only person guaranteed to be in your life forever—you may as well love yourself!

Step 2: Get Back to Basics

Stop getting distracted by the millions of ways you can lose weight and focus on the main thing that is needed: a caloric deficit. If you find yourself feeling obsessive about every macronutrient or minute of exercise, take a deep breath and remember you’re doing the best you can. Stay within your recommended calorie limit (insert link here), and be happy with that. You’re doing the best you can.

Step 3: Be Yourself, Not What You “Should” Be

If even the thought of eating kale salads and squash soup makes you feel queasy, don’t sabotage yourself by making yourself eat them. Weight loss is about creating healthy habits that work for YOU—not whatever works for everyone else. This is the fun part of weight loss! Do you love cheeseburgers and pizza? Research ways to make healthier versions of your favorite kinds! Start where YOU are, not where the millions of health articles say you’re supposed to be.

Step 4: Be Your Own Best Friend—Not Your Own Worst Enemy

Old habits die hard. You’re going to feel like you’ve screwed up every now and then. You’re still going to occasionally feel the sting of regret after overeating. But if it was your best friend or your child upset about those things, how would you speak to them? More than likely you would comfort and reassure them. Be that person for yourself. Self-talk is one of the most powerful tools you can implement in your life.

Step 5: Focus on Enjoying Life

Your body is composed of the perfect combination of elements to be alive, and your home is a planet hurtling around a humongous ball of fire and gases in a vastly magnificent universe. Life is pretty damn amazing and should never be taken for granted. Although your health and weight are important to you, never let it take away from the miracle your existence is. Whenever you find yourself feeling down about how imperfect you feel, look at the bigger picture. I guarantee it will put your worries in perspective.

Now go out there, be your own best self, and appreciate every moment of your journey in life.

My First Blog Post!

Starting something from scratch and literally filling it with the contents of your mind can be intimidating.  It’s frustrating wanting to express something and it not come out in the same form that’s in your mind.  Some people take that as a challenge, but most take it as an excuse to not try at all.

I’m Jade, and I’ve decided to stop using that excuse.

Before I tell you about myself, I’d like to tell you exactly why I feel so compelled to start a blog.  After many years of struggling with depression and anxiety while also supporting family and friends with a variety of issues, I am extremely passionate about making sure no one ever feels alone or without hope.  At so many different points in life we find ourselves needing one or all of the following things:

  • to be reminded it’s all going to be okay (“this too shall pass!”)
  • to realize our own personal power in changing a situation
  • to see another perspective to understand more about our own
  • someone to help us not feel so alone

It’s a breath of fresh air to have these moments of blissful relief. Whatever it is you personally are needing, I want my posts to stimulate that kind of mental freedom.

Anyway–like I said, my name is Jade. I grew up amidst the cornfields in central Illinois for the first 22 years of my life.  I spent much of my formative years with my nose in a good book, studying for all of my classes, and watching movies with family and friends. After graduating with my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services & Sociology in May of 2013, I decided to go on a cross-country road trip by myself.  I had never been west of central Iowa, and after a few very stressful years, I was in need of a break from life.

Little did I know at the time, I would never drive home.

971830_10201646988915354_522652301_n

Me while rock climbing near Klamath Falls, Oregon in 2013.

I now live in a small house on a river in Oregon, surrounded by trees taller than I’d ever seen my entire life, and I’ve never been happier.  Some of my favorite things are: reading, watching documentaries and movies, making art out of my favorite quotes, trying new plant-based recipes, hiking, traveling, spending time with my fiance, playing cards and board games, snuggling with my fur-babies and any other animal that will pay attention to me, connecting with family & friends & new people, and so much more that life has to offer.

My happiness is due to much more than the huge geographical leap I took–although that had a significant amount to do with it.  All of the peace that is now in my heart is thanks to the many lessons I’ve learned along the way from so many people and experiences.

My goal with this blog is to bring you weekly reminders and tips about mindfulness, self-love, and other perspectives that can create a more personally fulfilling life.  Some more specific topics I’d like to discuss eventually are: coping with mental health issues, dealing with loss, the Law of Attraction, body image, communication in relationships, and embracing change.  I’m very scatter-brained and new to blogging, so bear with me as I get comfortable and figure out how I will narrow my focus. 🙂

What areas of life would you like for me to focus on?  Let me know in the comments or by contacting me!  My contact information can be found on the Contact page.

I am truly looking forward to growing with this blog in the coming months.  Until next time!

-jade

Follow my blog with Bloglovin