- 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
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. ~
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.
Click on link below for the part one conversation about sex culture, sexual exploitation, and pornography
(There is a minor tech issue with just one presenter’s face being shown the first several minutes, but it will revert back to the full group.)
Have you ever been afraid of stopping because you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to get back up?
Yeah, me too. It’s called distraction, anxiety, fear, avoidance, whatever it is that you are scared to face if you just stop…To stop means to rest, and when we rest we are flooded with the thoughts and responsibilities that we put on the back burner. And once we recognize the thoughts and responsibilities we avoid, we then know we have to either do something about them or let it eat up space in our brains. The busyness allows us to excuse the need to make changes. And conversely, because we are constantly on the go, there is a fear that we may enjoy the stopping and are unsure how to pick back up again once we allow ourselves to come down from all the chaos. We fear enjoying the breather, because what happens when we have to pick back up again and be who everyone expects us to? It can feel terrifying to allow ourselves to be relaxed and happy when we think it is temporary.
COVID has exacerbated this process as it has forced us to stop, which I think is part of the reason we are seeing an increase in people’s deterioration of mental health, and/or breakthroughs and realizations. COVID has forced us to pause parts of our lives and face the reality of why we kept running on empty for so long…
We have to start seeing our reality for what it is. There is no magic wand that will make what is not working start miraculously working. When we constantly run, we think we are outrunning our reality when we are really just avoiding and prolonging the inevitable. The inevitable may be coming to terms with fears of being alone, or starting over, not yet finding our purpose, knowing we need to stand up for ourselves, or not being happy with our current situation. The inevitable may also be needing to leave a job or a relationship, telling someone no, hurting someone’s feelings, making a decision that impacts others…The list goes on and on.
Recognize and appreciate hopelessness. I know this sounds silly, but once we are honest with ourselves and realize something is hopeless, we start to make changes because we know we have to. We can start becoming the person we know we are and strive to be…Once we release what is hopeless, we can put our focus on what is important now. Do not miss out on current potential because you’re avoiding change and holding onto what is hopeless.
Find balance. This is hard to do. People like to talk about self care as some fluffy term for drinking wine and taking baths. In reality, self care is discipline and coming to terms with your own sh*t. It is creating a work/life balance, and putting your needs first sometimes. It is having honest conversations with yourself, spending time alone with your thoughts, and then dealing with whatever it is you find.
You have to enjoy your life and the fluffy things, but you also need to hold yourself accountable, set boundaries, and take care of your body. Do not underestimate the power of proper exercise, diet, water intake, and sleep.
One exercise I recommend is “what is on your plate”. Draw a big circle and inside of it write down everything that is currently on your plate. On the outside of the plate, write down all of the things you want on your plate that you do not make time for. Then try to figure out how to rearrange it all…What are things you can take off your plate whether letting them go or delegating to someone else? What can you replace those things with that you want on your plate, such as more alone time, going to the gym, picking up a hobby, or focusing on an important relationship you’ve neglected? Just see what little things you can start to incorporate while simultaneously removing some of those hopeless responsibilities or random tasks that someone else can take on.
There are a lot of answers held within our bodies. Aches and pains and constant problem areas are usually telling us to pay attention to our somatic symptoms, as our emotional state directly correlates with our bodies. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, and body aches/pains and sensations are all connected; they all have influence over each other. The self care piece of this is to take time to do a body scan, discover and pay attention to problem areas, and then work through them. For example, lately I have had several headaches and stomach cramps. I know this is directly related to feeling frustrated and stressed, as I have come to realize that I clench my jaw when I am overwhelmed with things that frustrate me and cause me to feel stuck. Clenching my jaw gives me a headache which is my indicator that I am overwhelmed and distracted with intrusive thoughts. These thoughts give me stomach cramps because they make me anxious.
Moral of the story; do not ignore your body and simply accept the aches/pains, because it is truly trying to tell you something. Also, pay attention to when your body feels relieved and relaxed, and incorporate more of what causes those positive sensations into your life.
Communication with someone you trust is key. There is nothing more revitalizing than staying connected to others. Tell people how you feel, and use your support system when you need it. When we run on empty, typically the relationships we want the most suffer because we prioritize work and life stressors over them, thus becoming additionally stressed because we know we are neglecting those people. Do not let yourself lose those that mean the most to you because you prioritize the things that overwhelm you. Even if all you have time for that day is a phone call while driving to/from the gym or for five minutes before bed, find time for the people who make you feel good.
Also be sure you are choosing positive connections for communication. If we reach out to someone who is typically negative or toxic, this will not help uplift us when we are overwhelmed. Find people who are a positive impact on you, hold you accountable, are trustworthy, and support your life.
Silence is eye opening. I have said it before and I will say it again, add more silence to your life! We use noise as a filler to further distract ourselves when running on empty. Drive to/from work in silence, turn off the tv when you aren’t watching it, don’t listen to music when you shower…add in small bits of silence every day. This is when we can start to come to terms with what is draining us, what we are avoiding, what we are missing out on, and what it is we want for our lives. This is also where we get to know ourselves, and ensure we are checking in to put our happiness and goals at the forefront of our decisions. And doesn’t that sound nice?
“Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will, and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom…The power to chose, to respond, to change.”