SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: let go

Finding Peace Through Pain

The entire concept and culture around emotional pain completely fascinates me. We hurt a lot as humans; it’s a part of our growth and resiliency while we venture through life. And most of the pain we deal with day to day is our thoughts. What is fascinating to me is that we choose to let pain burden us, and because of that we experience things like confusion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fear, anxiety, anger, rejection, humiliation, perceived failure, mood swings, guilt, shame, and self-blame (to name a few)…And to add to this long list, pain causes us to mentally rewind time, replay situations, ruminate,  and wish for different outcomes. AKA-we are constantly and subjectively experiencing mental suffering. And do you know the worst part is? It’s addicting…

It’s easy for our minds to focus on and discuss the negative; what isn’t going well, what hurts, what upsets us, what we don’t like. Our minds are hardwired to have a stronger focus on and easier pull towards pain rather than happiness and optimism. It’s engrained into our cultures and entangled  in our every day life to focus on negativity…It’s contagious to experience pain because it helps us relate to others and gives us something to talk about.  We are motivated by pain and negativity, and we gravitate towards focusing on others’ pain and negativity more so than what is going well in their lives.

I am constantly being asked how I manage pain from my personal life experiences as well as the secondary trauma I acquire from helping those that have endured horrific pain. I did not realize how much pain could gradually seep into my life until working in a career filled with it. That being said, I have come to live by a few very important rules regarding pain and how I ensure it doesn’t control me…

  • First and foremost – every painful, broken piece of us doesn’t need to be analyzed, collected, or remembered… Some pieces need to stay lost because they don’t belong to us, they happened to us. Let the pieces go. Move forward, and do not hold onto these things. Do not claim the pain, just understand that it was an experience. And as hard as it is, do not tie emotion to it. It just is, and let it be just that.
  • Change your beliefs about the pain. We cannot experience love, humility, positivity without an understanding of gratitude. And without any pain, we would fail to see how great life can truly be. How can you look at the painful experience as a learning curve, or a helpful step in the right direction? What positives can come out of this pain? How can you change the belief about the purpose of the pain to help it motivate you?
  • Do not run away from pain, allow yourself to feel everything. Be present with your feelings, allow whatever it is that wants to come up to do so. Do not be embarrassed; purge the emotion. This is how we move forward, otherwise we stuff things deep inside to be dealt with later, on top of all the other pain we try to avoid. Embrace what you need to feel; it helps to understand and accept the pain… A very good tool for this is meditation.
  • Slow down. We cannot allow ourselves to feel if we are constantly going at a pace of 100 miles an hour. Give yourself time to breathe, and figure out how to move forward with these painful experiences. I am guilty of purposefully going 100 miles an hour so I do not have time to ruminate on pain… It’s how I distract myself, and it is not healthy. Take time to be with yourself, and work through the pain before it gets stuffed deep down to come up later. And trust me, it will come up later.
  • When you are right in the muck of your pain, ask yourself if there’s any piece of this that you can control. If the answer is no, you cannot control or change anything about this, then learn to let it go after you process through it. *Meditation is super helpful here also*. We cannot hold onto pain that serves us no purpose. If we can’t make any positive changes, and if the situation is not in our control, we must move on and move forward.  What other option do we really have?
  • And lastly – how can you make your pain a part of you? Always remind yourself to use pain to your advantage. Remind yourself that pain makes you who you are, and it has helped to develop you into your current self…Your soulful, resilient self. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?


You are never more than one thought away from peace~

-keep shining

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

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Food for thought:
Maybe when you no longer need anything, you can have everything. And when you stop trying to make things happen, anything can.
Take a second to reread this quote a few times and think about what it means to you. Does it resonate with you as much as it does with me?

We spend so much of our time focusing on what we want and deserve, how to reach that goal, how to ensure the outcome is exactly as we need it to be. We want every situation in our life to play out the way we imagined. But let me ask you this, how is that working out for ya?
How many times have your plans worked out the way you’ve tried to twist and turn them?

Every time something cruddy or unforeseen happens to me I get stressed and upset, just like anyone else.  But  life has been a lot easier to navigate when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I can completely understand why that road block, unpredictable adventure, plot twist, happened. Every time I take this step back, I learn something about myself and I am grateful for the experience. It doesn’t take away from the pain or confusion or stress that it had on me as I still have disappointments. Every time I take a step back I trip and fall over an imaginary line, and fall flat on my face (both literally and figuratively because I am the most accident prone human I know).
Taking a step back and reflecting does flood us with emotions, some of which we want to avoid. It’s difficult because we are faced with the realization of ourselves and that change is hard. It’s important to remember that it is normal to feel these emotions; anger or disappointment typically, when things do not work out in the boring, predictable way we hoped.
We need to allow ourselves to trust the process more often, to challenge ourselves to let go. I talk about this a lot in my blogs because I see everyone in my life struggle with this, time and time again. When life happens, we vent and focus solely on the negativity of the event and we ignore all that we’ve gained. It’s easier to complain than to challenge ourselves. But each and every one of you is resilient, and I promise you will get through it. I can promise you this because you’re still standing, aren’t you? Think about how much you’ve been through in your life. The wonderful thing is you’re still here, despite it all. And it’s the difficult times in life that truly define us. Don’t miss the opportunity to be proud of who you are and what you’re capable of.
Click here to read my blog on letting go of control

Most of the time we refuse to look at how that negative experience could also benefit our lives. We really can have everything when we expect nothing, when we let it flow and bring on life’s adventure. Anything is possible when we let go of expectations or plans for the future. Doesn’t that just make you smile and exhale a little bit? I know I relax a little more each time I remind myself of this. I feel more motivation to accept and appreciate the unknown.
Not only do we try to manipulate life’s tests to make them fit our impossible mold, we focus on what others have. If there’s anything I have learned through my career in social work, it is that we have no idea what anyone is going through, regardless of what we see on the outside. We constantly focus on the next shiny object; the they-have-what-I-want mentality. We focus on who we strive to be like and base happiness on materialistic things that others possess. Just try to focus on yourself, comparing to others is a huge waste of energy. Trust me when I say, there’s enough to go around. Life is so much sweeter when we can just be happy for others and move on. But know that you too will find what it is that you need, always. And don’t forget that regardless of how great someone’s life seems, it’s not your life. You don’t have that life because it was not meant for you. Embrace your own path.
Speaking of focusing too much on others, I have also learned to be picky with friends. People can be toxic and add to the stress of your world. I often hear people say that as you get older, you start to notice those diamond friends that are always there; good, bad, or ugly. Some ‘friends’ are just around for all the good times, or others only show up when you’re life is full of obstacles. We let these people influence us too much. Don’t drink other people’s poison, even when it’s offered with love….
We all have that one friend who never fails to be right at our side when it involves some juicy drama or tragic event, however aside from that they mysteriously disappear. Your struggles make them feel better about their own lives. Or the ‘friends’ you only hear from during times of fun and adventure and social outings. I have one word of advice for you; drop ’em like they’re hot….Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Click here to read my blog about self-focus; letting go of the world’s expectations
Click here to read my blog about connection vs attachment, and when to let go of some relationships

Okay, sorry for that ‘squirrel!’ moment on lame friends; back to letting go…
I also want to point out that we never know what blessings an obstacle is creating behind the scenes. I would argue that you could totally be avoiding larger nightmares and mishaps because this obstacle arose in your life, thankfully
For example, I was previously employed at a job I loved. It always felt smooth-sailin’ and doable, even on the long and emotional days. However, my biggest blessing and curse as a human is that I get bored easily. I constantly need to be learning and feel like I am being challenged in my work. God forbid I just pick a job with no stress, chaos, or overtime, but I can hardly imagine that!
I was starting to get a little stir crazy at this job due to the desire to always be challenged. But because I enjoyed my clients and could not fathom moving on, I could not get myself to leave the organization. Out of the blue, there was a huge misunderstanding that has caused a lot of self reflection in my life. I ended up leaving that job in a really confused and upsetting place, however because of that I found a better path for myself. I am now in a position that was meant for me, and that I am beyond passionate about. Had some random, unpredictable experience not occur at that previous job, I would not be here today. I would not have had the drive to leave and allow this new job to practically fall into my lap. As far as misunderstandings go, talk about good timing. Not to mention that since I left that job, a lot more has changed which has placed much more stress and workload onto the wonderful staff there. AKA, I dodged a bullet and avoided those bigger nightmares that I mentioned earlier.
During that time in my life, I was not myself. I took on someone else’s problems and internalized them making it my own fault. I wasted many days wondering why. But once I took the time to step back and focus big picture, I learned so much about myself. I learned to be more assertive and stand up for myself, I learned that it is okay to not take the fall for someone else, and I feel more confident in knowing I did not do anything wrong. I am always trying my best, and at the end of the day that is what matters. And ultimately, it was those feelings that motivated me to leave, to move on, and to know that the position was no longer serving me. That chapter was closing, and opened me up to a path full of new possibilities.

Long story short, life can be unrealistically unpredictable in the best of ways if we just lessen our expectations and let life be beautiful…The way it was meant to be.

 -Keep shining 

Click here to read more about how to instill more fun in your life
Click here for the top 10 reasons to call in sick
Click here and here for blogs on how to be more assertive

Click here for more tips on letting go

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Quotes and motivation for today’s blog came from the book Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver

Leave The Driver’s Seat

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All of us want some element of control in our lives. We try to plan out that five-year check list. We try to prepare for each day, every interaction, etc. However, all of us could use a lesson in letting go….We need to let go. We need to trust that things will work out the way they’re meant to, and that by letting go life will bring us to where we are needed most. It doesn’t matter how much we try to plan and control, there is always a chance it won’t work out. Life often has different plans for us than we have for ourselves, and that’s just the way it goes!

~Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.

I’ve had a few people in my life tell me that I need to work on letting go of control. I struggled with that for some time, because how do you just let go? How can you just assume things will work out, and not feel the need to have control over the outcome? Then recently I heard the above quote not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control, and it all began to make more sense to me.
Letting go of control means being open to many outcomes. This kind of mindset is healthy and it helps us to stay present; it helps us to worry less because we aren’t so focused on ensuring things work out just the way we planned them to. Being out of control is so much different than that. Being out of control means not having conscious control over our behaviors; to be unruly or wild. These two concepts are polar opposites from one another, yet we combine them to mean the same thing. We combine the concept of letting go of the need to control with the concept of being out of control. We combine a healthy outlook on life to being unruly and ‘out of hand’.
Letting go is to accept the unknown. It means being less stressed and open to new and unexpected possibilities. And how exciting does that sound, if we are open to it?! There is no event or interaction in your life that you can have complete control over. Of course, sometimes this can be stressful and frustrating, but at the end of the day what option do we have? We need to loosen up our expectations as to how we look at the world and our ‘plans’. If we don’t loosen up, we give energy to things that are not in our control, and what a waste of time that is.
Sometimes letting go means that our life feels stagnant, but why do we always need things to be progressing or moving? Progress can be a stand-still. Being stagnant can be growth if we view it through a positive lens, and it can be an important piece of life we don’t want to miss out on. When we are constantly planning out the next thing and ‘controlling’ situations, we miss out on the ease and beauty within those stand-still moments. It’s these times where we have an opportunity to exhale and ‘just be’ for a while. Keep present, as everything happens there; only this moment truly counts. And quit panicking, progress can be stagnant but that doesn’t mean we aren’t moving forward.
There is no magic answer as to how to let go and make this an effortless habit. It is difficult for me every single day. But, remembering these little tidbits of positive reframing around our thoughts regarding control is a great first step. Acceptance is also key here. Accept the uncertainty of each day and the challenges it will bring. The challenges we face each day are what makes us resilient and what makes us better, more patient and appreciative people. Reminding myself of these things has reduced my stress and helped me to be more grateful in each present moment. Taking a step back, breathing,  and enjoying life’s curve balls has made me a better friend, sister, daughter, coworker; the list goes on and on!
And just in case you forgot….Not being in control isn’t the same as being out of control.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
-keep shining