SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

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Lettin’ er Go

Let me put this bluntly; Not everyone who hurts you cares…
Ouch, that stings. I know.
And nothing is more painful or frustrating than spending our time ruminating on our hurt when we know the person who has caused it is not one bit concerned…Why don’t they care? What did I do to deserve this? I did not see this coming. Why haven’t they said sorry, or reached out? Why can’t I just let this go? Why did they hurt me?

We taint incredible life moments when we spend all our time thinking about someone irresponsibly hurting us. Thinking about why they did it, why they don’t seem to care or acknowledge…We lose sight of special moments when we focus on being befuddled by their actions, often missing out on being in the moment because we are stuck desperately trying to piece everything together to make sense of it. So why can’t we let it go, and how do we?

Here are my thoughts:

  • It’s hard work, and it takes a lot of discipline and patience to get yourself there. One helpful statement I came across is, “when someone has a ‘problem’ with you and they don’t come to you with it, that is not your problem”. If they do not come to you to fix that issue, that is their problem. There is nothing for you to do. If you think they are having a problem or they are acting differently, it is their responsibility to come to you. It is their issue therefore if they’re not coming to you, let it go. You are not the one with the ‘problem’ which means no sweat off your back. We often ask ourselves what we have done wrong or hypothesize how can we fix it, when it is not our issue. Can you check in with them and ask? Sure, have at it. However, try to remind yourself that the issue lies within the other involved party as this takes some weight and frustration away. It is not solely your responsibility.
  • Secondly, forgiveness does not have to mean you let someone off the hook for hurting you. It can simply mean you are moving forward, forgiving and releasing the pain so you do not sit in this icky space any longer. You can forgive the things that caused you pain, but you do not need to forget. You can remember how that person treated you so your future approach with them is different. For example, maybe I lend someone money who does not pay me back. I can forgive them so I do not hold onto the negative energy that does not serve a purpose to me, but you better believe I will not forget that and never loan them money again. Or perhaps you know a good friend of yours has lied to you and they are not coming clean. You may just choose not to trust them in the same way anymore and are more cautious about what you share…
    We do not forget what happened, but we forgive in order to relieve ourselves of the anger. We give the other person power if we bathe in our feelings of resentment or anger. Release the energy from this and put it towards something more positive and worthy, perhaps.
  • Sometimes, the people in our life are just selfish. You get to decide if you want to engage with that person or not. If you understand the person well, you may know that they only want to win, and that regardless of your feelings or responses to the pain they caused you, they will still end with the upper-hand and the last word. Selfish people just want what they want, and it’s important that we identify them so we can more easily move on without letting their hurt cause us to waste our time.
    I can assume you are a caring, thoughtful, and nice person, and for those of us who are, we try SO hard to make things right and struggle to cut ties. It’s a blessing and a curse to be so incredibly kind, isn’t it?
    It’s hard to spot these self-centered people sometimes until we get blindsided by their actions, and it stings. Start asking yourself questions to help cut those toxic ties:

    • Why would they say/do that to me?
    • What is their goal?
    • What do I mean to them if they are treating me this way?
    • What are they getting out of this?
  • Sometimes people’s actions trigger us. Our past experiences and traumas, fears, wants and wishes, etc. can cause us to react more intensely to certain people or situations than what is typical for us. It’s important to recognize if this person’s actions are triggering something deeper within us so we can examine and understand that part of who we are and what we expect from those in our lives.  If you find yourself really struggling to move forward from the human who mindlessly hurt you, ask yourself these questions:
    • Why is this particular situation or person so difficult for me?
    • What past experiences or circumstances, fears, or wants may be affecting my reaction?
    • What were my expectations of this person who hurt me?
    • Does this remind me of something I have been through?
  • Do not assume. This one, my friends, is a difficult task. How many times do we think we know that someone is upset, or their tone was off, or “gee, I clearly rubbed them the wrong way”…All to find out that nothing was wrong at all? Or what if *GASPS* their demeanor had nothing to do with you but instead a completely separate situation? Shocking! Sometimes we get so caught up in making assumptions that we forget that those assumptions are not real. Who hasn’t gone into a total tailspin of fear or anger over something they later realized they were completely wrong about? *Raises hand* Guilty.
    Maybe that is the whole reason you even decided to read today’s blog; you think someone is upset with you and you are unsure what to do about it. Ask yourself these questions:

    • What led me to believe they would be angry at me, or would treat me this way?
    • What facts do I have; how do I know this?
  • Know that you deserve better. Remind yourself of all of your strengths, because they are endless. I know, this feels cringe-worthy…My gosh, how could we possibly think so kindly of ourselves?! But if we want to move past how someone treated us, we have to remind ourselves that we deserve better, and why. If that feels like a tough task to accomplish, lean on friends and family to help remind you.
    Celebrating all the incredible things you bring to the table helps to empower you to move forward and be happy. Happiness is the greatest gift of this lifetime, after all, and we do not allow ourselves enough of it. We need to care more about ourselves than the people who mindlessly hurt us.
  • And lastly…Bye FELICIA! Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Let it hurt
Let it bleed 
Let it heal
And let it go

 

-keep shining

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Rude Awakenings

I was paging through one of my journals the other day, and in this particular journal I write quotes, words, and random thoughts that come into my head. As I paged through a lot of my twirly-whirly drawings and colorful words, I stopped on something that resonated with me that day…The page read, “Rude Awakening: Rude is temporary, Awakening is permanent.” 
For some reason on this particular day, the quote really stuck out to me. I do not recall even scribbling it down in the first place, but I pondered the importance of it…
Rude awakenings do not have to be scary, bad, traumatizing, or negative. They probably feel that way in the moment, but it’s all about perspective; how we take that moment and apply it to our lives. Rude is where we learn, it’s where we get stunned, blindsided, or maybe some old karma surfacing. It’s what happens to us or catches up to us that may not feel so great in the moment, but ultimately leads to the awakening portion of the journey. It’s a quick and painful (or shocking) realization that leads us into the next phase of awakening, which can also feel scary or traumatizing, bad or negative. But the ultimate power in awakening is that it can be the beginning to a lifelong journey of discovery. It’s about temporary suffering, which can provide us with some understanding and realization if we allow it to.
Rude awakenings guide us towards a more mindful and purposeful way of living, and we can use our awakening period to recreate and redefine parts of ourselves. We become more aware…We move through the rude, which is the part that no longer serves us once we experience it, and we awaken into some hard and honest self-reflection and change. It is finally realizing something that may have been in front of us all along, but now we are being slapped in the face with it because we can no longer avoid or ignore it…We finally have an epiphany that this short-term (rude) piece helped us to arrive at.

The definition of Rude Awakening: The sudden and unexpected discovery of an unpleasant fact or truth. 
It is to discover that maybe, we haven’t really grown or changed much at all in all our years on earth. Or we actually didn’t know it all, or we can’t continue to avoid looking ourselves in the mirror and dealing with our stuff. We can no longer avoid self-awareness and change because of the unpleasantry we discovered in ourselves that has overstayed its welcome. All of this is a positive thing because it’s where we turn our lives around and find motivation. It’s where we realize we do not want to do, be, act certain ways and finally buck up, put our egos aside and deal with it. It’s like hitting rock bottom, but adding one step further, because not only do we realize we are at the end of our rope (rock bottom), but we actually admit it and mindfully do something about it. We make amends with ourselves and others. We awaken and take on the challenges of change, growth, awareness, and self-discovery, because it’s worth it. You are worth it.

People get so caught up in avoiding these parts of themselves instead of allowing our vulnerabilities to be owned and accepted, because vulnerability can feel scary, overwhelming and intimidating. It sucks to come to terms with the ugly parts of us and where it comes from. We mask and avoid with addiction, pride and ego, distractions and excuses, staying busy, and frankly just being stubborn.

And sometimes, the rude awakening may be discovering something about someone else that practically gave you whiplash…It could be specific to a job, relationship, business deal, etc. and discovering someone else dropped the ball. The whiplash may be that we were awakened to the realness and unfortunate truth of that relationship and someone else’s true colors. And frankly, it sucks when that happens because we have no control over it. No one likes to be disappointed by someone they trusted or liked. But, remembering that the rude is temporary and the awakening is permanent, how can we own that situation and move forward? How can we come to realize, even when by surprise, what the relationship really was and how to use it to our advantage instead of wallowing in our disappointment? We have to open our eyes to the whole picture, grieve, be upset, and move forward. The awakening part provides more insight, awareness, and vigilance to use throughout our lives when interacting with others.
There have been a few very impactful rude awakenings with jobs and friendships in my life, as I am sure it has for many of you as well. I can recall being so stunned by how I was bullied in one particular instance in high school. I personalized this instance for a long time and was very confused at my young age, but the rude awakening was so impactful. The rude was how badly I was treated on this particular day, and the awakening how much I value relationships because of it…It was because of that instance that I told myself that I would always try my best to be a good friend to people. I would never purposefully hurt anyone or make anyone feel how I felt that day, and that I would always be there for others. That awakening has had impact throughout my life since then, as I still hold true to that. I still remember the awful and shocking feelings I had that day, and I recall very specifically telling myself that I would always be a warm and positive person for my friends, and I reflected on times when I was not so kind. The rude was realizing those people were not my friends at all, and it was okay to let go of those “friendships”. The awakening was moving past the fear of pushing back. It was owning times where I could have been a better friend. And it was letting go and promising myself I would never allow anyone to feel how I did that day if I could help it.

Rude awakenings are not easy by any means, but they are purposeful, and they make us human. They are unavoidable. They are necessary. Life has more impact and meaning when we are open to these moments…When we transition into the next step of who we are and allow ourselves to shed old relationships that are no longer meaningful.

True self-discovery begins where your comfort zone ends.

-keep shining

Sh*t You Can Stop Apologizing For

  • Standing up for yourself
  • The things you believe in
  • Changing your mind
  • How you feel
  • Not meeting someone’s expectations of you
  • Saying no
  • Eating or drinking how you want to
  • Disagreeing with someone’s opinion
  • Not having the answer
  • Needing help
  • Going with your gut
  • Boasting about yourself
  • Being assertive
  • Taking selfies
  • Sharing your ideas and your opinions
  • For your past
  • What you’re wearing
  • Things out of your control
  • Not immediately responding to a text or returning a call
  • Sending a straightforward email
  • Having doubts
  • Speaking honestly
  • Thinking outside of the norm
  • Setting boundaries
  • Not smiling all the time
  • Prioritizing yourself

-keep shining
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Life=Math, Math=Life

Math = EEEEEW. I hate math, in fact, all social workers hate math. And often times social workers say they just, flat-out, refuse to do math. But, a few months ago, I had a fulfilling conversation with a friend and family member that has stuck with me. We discussed a concept of life being like math, as you add, subtract, multiply, and divide. We can either add to the world, subtract from the world, multiply the world, or divide it.
And we cannot move ahead in life without solving the problem in front of us…A solution exists somewhere and it is up to us to appreciate patience, learn the skill, and solve the problem before we can move forward.
It is a simple and obvious concept, but I find that sometimes the most obvious motivators and solutions need to be said out loud…Who do you want to be? Do you want to add positivity to the world, do you want to take away from it, do you want to multiply the impact you have on the world, or do you want to divide the world? Do you want to find solutions, or cheat your way through? Who are you now, and who do you want to be?

During the conversation I was having with these two insightful individuals, we discussed the connection between the math concept and being present in life and opportunity. When we open our eyes to our surroundings, we constantly have opportunity knocking at our doors. It is up to us to recognize it and decide if we take a leap of faith, or if we live in our every day normal.

Although these two concepts seem very different, they are related. Our ability to multiply and add to the world enhances our ability to understand and see faith in taking leaps and recognizing opportunity. What is life if we do not try new things, if we do not step out of our comfort zone, and what impact could we have if we change our attitudes and behaviors? In order to live life fully and be open to opportunity, we have to understand our impact on the world; what we add to it, or what we wish to add.

When I am fearful and hesitant to take a leap of faith or step out of my comfort zone, the first thing I ask myself is, what is the worst thing that could happen? I allow myself to go there; to the most fearful and risky part of the situation. I play that out, and then I find the solution to that problem, should it happen. Because even in the worst of times, we have proven to ourselves that we can get through it, as we are all still here, right? In the worst of times, we have pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and gotten through it.

I promised myself I would always explore the opportunity in front of me, go to the worst-case scenario, find the solution to that and ask myself if it is worth the risk. I evaluate my options and ask myself how I want to feel at the end of this rainbow…Would I rather have tried and maybe failed, to at least know the outcome? Would I rather take the chance of exploring the opportunity knowing it is where my heart truly is, and if I fail I have a higher faith in knowing it was all meant to be? Or do I live in my current situation, not ever and potentially always wondering what could have been?
The choice is up to you and what is most comfortable, which is the beauty of choice.

Life is about opportunity, exploration, and happiness. We are not meant to stay within a box of ‘societal norms’ and expectations we put on ourselves. Life is about learning, enjoying, and exploring. It is about taking risks and learning lessons, or taking risks and multiplying our impact when we find that the risk was worth it.

Speak your truth, and do not apologize for being exactly who you are. Change brings opportunity. Success comes from taking opportunities and taking that chance. We can create the right opportunity to add to our lives.

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes, then learn how to do it later. ~

-Keep shining

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Happiness is Religion

Life is too short.
We say this often in various situations, but how many times do we actually apply it to our lives? How often do we think about what this really means, and if we truly live by these words when we say them?

My mom and I were having a discussion about this recently, and she said something that had a great impact on me. In talking about the life-is-too-short mentality, we focused in on the concept of happiness. Within this conversation, she said, “You should always strive for happiness. What gives you peace, what fills your bucket and brings you joy? Everything flows with that. We get distracted with so much of our life. Happiness should be our top priority, it’s why we are here. This is our biggest calling and it’s how we become our best selves; by putting ourselves first… Live in your happiness, and be happiness. Happiness is my religion.”

First of all, now you see why I tell everyone my mother is my free therapist. I wrote down her words of wisdom that day and have reflected back on them ever since. I reread them, smile (because of how uplifting and true this is), apply this mindset to my day, and focus on happiness being the upmost purpose of my world.

Within this uplifting conversation, my mom and I both expressed our frustration when people, including ourselves, settle in life… We settle in jobs, relationships, situations, lifestyles or locations. We sacrifice our happiness a lot, and after looking back on this conversation, I believe there are two reasons why: fear and pain.

We sit in unhappiness. We wait for it to change, and we avoid what needs to happen to transition into a space that we know and feel will make us happier. We wait for the feelings to dissipate and convince ourselves it isn’t that bad, because being unhappy in our everyday ‘normal’ feels safer than stepping into the unknown. Putting ourselves first and advocating for our own happiness can sometimes come with change. We fear change, we run from it because it feels unsafe and risky. We focus more on the process rather than the end goal of where it leads. We fear the period of growth and prefer sitting in what we know doesn’t bring us the joy we deserve.
We also do not want pain for others. Putting ourselves first sometimes comes at a price of ‘causing’ pain for someone. I have learned a lot recently about not taking on other people’s pain as my own; that my decisions may affect people, but their reaction is not my responsibility.
It is okay to put yourself first, speak your truth, and not take on the pain of someone else who does not approve of your decision to find your happy-place. Your attitude and effort is all you can control, and wrong does not exist here. Unhappiness cannot exist in the space of a great attitude and the effort you put into finding yourself, because you decided to choose happiness. You decided that your joy takes precedent over feeling badly for someone’s reaction to it.

Listen to that little voice that wants more, feels more, and knows that there are things you could change to be happier. And again, isn’t that our ultimate goal? What is really stopping you? Why wouldn’t you want what you can have, if it will bring you the joy you deserve?

There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy…And it’s about being able to let go of what makes you sad. This comes from our own actions and self-accountability. I find that when I strive for happiness, I allow myself to feel the fear and accept that it may be there. I accept the fear, grief, and impact it may have on others. But I also have confidence in that allowing myself to take it on head first has opened up so many more doors of opportunity for me. When I follow my heart, I am never mislead. It can feel scary, and some people have experienced pain from my decisions. But I learned not to let it stop me. I cannot live for other people’s comfort over my own. I cannot control their emotions and reaction to my own personal decisions, and neither can you… You cannot live your entire life for other people.
And you know what else I have learned? It always ends up making sense, and I believe that. We are the best versions of ourselves when we are happy. I view happiness as a spiritual experience that comes with appreciation, love, grace, and patience. Happiness does not mean perfection, it’s a state of mind you choose. And why not choose it? There is no end game, it’s an ongoing journey.
It’s your ongoing journey.

Choosing happiness alters your state of mind. When you view things from the lens of I-am-going-to-be-happy-today, you see things as such. Even on a rough day, you see the beauty and purpose in that knowing happiness is on the other side. Everything we experience has purpose if we let it. If we go through life dreading and complaining, we miss opportunities to see why those tough days exist. Without tough days, we would not experience the highs of happiness. We can still see through the current moment and have faith that our joy is right around the corner, because it is.

You should always strive for happiness. What gives you peace, what fills your bucket and brings you joy? Everything flows with that. We get distracted with so much of our life. Happiness should be our top priority, it’s why we are here. This is our biggest calling and it’s how we become our best selves; by putting ourselves first… Live in your happiness, and be happiness. Happiness is my religion.

-keep shining

(If you want more happy things in your world, check out the Happy Things Thursday section of my blog.)

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