SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace. Find happiness. Find yourself.

Tag: self care (page 1 of 2)

Failing Forward

What is the opposite of success?
(*Hint*   The answer is not failure)

The opposite of success is quitting. 

When we quit, that is when we give up any opportunity we have to succeed. We miss out on the opportunity to see what it is we’re really made of. And how can we succeed if we don’t try? We have to put ourselves out there and learn to be vulnerable to failure…To fail means that we tried, which is different than quitting. Failing helps to push us forward.

You have to be willing to fail in order to obtain success, it’s the price we pay for success. Life’s greatest teacher is failure. Who would you be today if you never failed, if no mistakes were ever made? Failure is how we learn what it is that we want, and it’s how we make changes to ensure more success the next time we try. It’s when we learn to be vulnerable that we can truly succeed…

Make Mistakes
Mistakes gain us experience. And mistakes will always help us learn resiliency. Trial and error is our best friend when it comes to failure because we will forever be making mistakes. It’s a continual process. We’ve all heard the saying, “nothing worth achieving comes easily.”

Roll The Dice, Shake Things Up
It is true that when we try something new there is risk of failing, but isn’t that when we also succeed?  Risk comes with reward. To risk means to be bold and find what it is you really want in your life. Embrace risk, embrace failure and make it a part of your routine.  Success will not always come naturally. To have success in every aspect of our lives would be boring. I do not view complete success as a good thing…It means that we are not pushing ourselves enough, we are not risking enough, and we are not leaving the comfort zone we’ve created. Risk keeps life interesting.

Focus On You
Most people experiencing numerous successes have more than likely encountered negativity and setbacks. Remind yourself that you cannot always see this on the outside. We all have a story, focus on yours. Reflect on your own setbacks and mistakes. Focus on moving forward, always. If something is not moving forward, if something is done and over with, leave…Move on. You cannot continue to water a dead flower.
And as a small tip-if you continue to experience the same setbacks and make the same mistakes, you may have to take a look at yourself to see if you’re the problem. We cannot take shortcuts–in order to succeed we have to be patient, focused, and disciplined. It’s all about baby steps here.

Feel The Fear
We can’t live with regret, and so often we fear it… We live in a lot of fear. But we cannot let our fears hold us back. We need to feel into our fears. We can still move forward even when we are fearful.
Ask yourself, what is it that you want when you eliminate your fears? If there was no such thing as failure or regret (AKA fear) what would you try to achieve? When you’re honest with yourself about your fears, life starts making more sense.

It’s Temporary
Both success and failure are temporary. The beautiful mistakes you make and the various achievements you experience will not last forever. So count your blessings, and also take a deep breath because it can only go up from here.

Be Humble
Our failures have kept us humble. As humans, we can better relate to one another when we can be honest and accepting of failures. We need these reminders of what it is to be humble. If it wasn’t for failing,  we wouldn’t know what it is that we are capable of. Success is so much sweeter when it is earned! We have to accept and admit to our failures.

The best mistakes of our lives are made when we fail. Get out there and make those mistakes, roll the dice, focus on yourself, face your fears, know that all things are temporary, and choose to be humble.
Be easy on yourself. Be flexible with yourself. Think outside of the box. Oh, and most importantly, put yourself first (it’s okay to do that sometimes).

Failure is success in progress ~

-keep shining

Secrets of a Social Worker
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To Feel It All Is To Be Alive

We are supposed to feel…
Emotions are meant to awaken us.

We are supposed to
love
and hate
and cry
and laugh.

That’s the point.
To feel it all is to be human.

We are supposed to be destroyed.
Pick up the pieces over and over again.

Don’t avoid it,
don’t remove it.

Accept the pain when you’re broken.
Know that you’re going to make mistakes.

We grieve,
we get angry.

But it’s only then that we recognize how good life can be when it’s really good.

To feel it all is be to alive. 

 

-keep shining

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The Gift Of Giving…To Yourself.

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I’ll be honest, the this time of year is really difficult for me. Along with all the parts I look forward to around the holidays such as gift-giving, parties, paid time off, traditions with family, and Christmas treats also comes a caseload of clients that doubles in size overnight. Every year I tell myself I will be stronger, I tell myself that it will get better, and remind myself that I can’t save the world; I can’t bring the world home with me for Christmas. But, every year I still break down and cry…A lot.
The holidays are usually a time that I reflect on the clients I have had the privilege to work with over the years. I recall their stories, and I remember that many of them do not have the opportunity to receive or give gifts, to go to parties, to take off work, to spend time with family, or to have a warm meal to eat….
I have mourned with kids in psychiatric facilities whose family did not visit them over Christmas. I have been a shoulder to cry on for a man who had no one to spend the holidays with, and was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it. I have tried to find the silver lining for the girl who told me that she has never opened a Christmas gift in her life. And I continuously work with individuals whose behaviors escalate around the holidays due to the trauma they’ve endured, and then watching as those around them lose empathy because they do not understand it.
I can’t keep up with the demands of the job because I cannot make people’s pain disappear, and the holidays alway remind me of that. It’s hard for me to look forward to time with my own family when I spend the days leading up to the holidays in constant crisis mode with my clients who have been sexually assaulted, physically and emotionally abused, and have nowhere to go. I struggle to leave work at work and take a break because I know someone might need me, and I can’t be there for them…This is called secondary trauma, or compassion fatigue, if you will, and it can affect any one of us at any given time. We take on our clients’ problems and stress, we let their stories affect our personal lives,  we develop our own triggers, we become hyper-vigilant, and ultimately we burn out. That’s why people who work in the helping profession often have a high turnover rate…we give too much of ourselves.
I always ask myself whyWhy do I get to look forward to the holidays when it brings so much pain to some people? I get mad that the world isn’t fair and get discouraged because there is nothing I can do to change that. At the end of the day,  I always remind myself that I have done my best, but sometimes telling myself that isn’t enough to make the pain and frustrations dissipate. It isn’t enough to ‘leave it at the door’ when I get home because I am still empathizing with those less fortunate than myself. If I only had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I take care of myself with such an intense job, I think I’d have enough money to buy every client plenty of gifts to go around! That being said, the way I get by each holiday and stay sane is to take care of myself and keep my compassion fatigue in check. Regardless of your field of world and how stressful or enjoyable your job may be, we all need to take care of ourselves and be sure we put ourselves first sometimes.
Here are some quick and easy ways I do that:

1. Check In…. I check in with myself every day; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I tune into how tense I am, what is causing me stress and/or joy, how tired I am, what I am thinking about, etc… Just check in and take a pause. Know where you are at and be mindful of yourself, first and foremost. This can take no more than 5 minutes, but it ensures that each day you don’t forget about yourself and become mindful of how you feel. This helps me approach each day more thoughtfully and think about myself throughout the day, which is easy for me to forget to do.
Click here for another perspective on checking in.

2. Be Kind… Not only to others, but to yourself. Be easy on yourself. Know that you are working hard. We get ridiculed enough in this society as it is, the least you can do is be nice to yourself and give yourself a compliment now and again. You  can always find something positive to say about yourself, and make it a daily habit. It’s easier to be kind on the outside when we are first kind on the inside. And I find myself more kind to others when I am first kind to myself. By being more kind to myself, I have actually found that mean/rude people don’t bother me as much; I am nice to people even when they aren’t nice to me. And sometimes that is just what they need because clearly they’re having a worse day than I am.

3. Focus on what is in your control… As you could have guessed, I can’t bring all of my past and current clients home with me for the holidays. Clearly, that is out of my control. I need to remind myself of the actions I have taken to try and produce the best outcome, but the outcome itself isn’t something I can predict. The holidays may bring extra frustrations or unpredictability, but it does no good to be upset over something I cannot do anything about.
When things arise that cause anxiety and frustration, just check in and ask yourself what about that situation you’re able to change, do it, and leave the rest behind.

4. Take Breaks… Let me spell it out for you, PTO…P-A-I-D   T-I-M-E   O-F-F. I know it’s hard to imagine, but the world will still revolve in your absence. People will get by if you’re not there. You earned time off, take it. We all need breaks. If we don’t take breaks we are burning ourselves out and that only affects the people around us, and the clients we are trying to serve. We cannot be our best selves in the work place if we are not taking breaks. Life is more than just working all the time. Try to rid yourself of the guilt because if you aren’t your best self for you, you sure as heck can’t be for anyone else. Breaks help give us some clarity and relief. Enjoy that vacation in Hawaii!

5. Cry… I hate crying. I hate it. And I do not do if often, so when I do I know that it’s needed. And every time I break down I feel better. We have emotions, people! We always get mad and embarrassed with ourselves for feeling the way we feel rather than just accepting it and letting it flow. You can’t control your emotions, but you can control how you react to them.
We have to get our feelings out and be honest with ourselves. Not only does it feel better and help us come to terms with things, but it brings a sense of relief. And it ensures you that you won’t go and unexpectedly word vomit your emotions onto someone else.
Click here to read another one of my blogs on this topic.

6. Decide what self care means to you…. In my trainings, when I ask people what self care means to them, often they say things like taking a bath, going on vacation, getting their nails done, going hunting, etc.. But self care is SO much more than that. Really ask yourself what self care means to you, it’s more than just this surface-level stuff. Dig deeper, there’s always more we can be doing for ourselves to ensure our happiness and health is where it needs to be. My self care absolutely includes vacations, getting my nails done, playing basketball, etc.. But it also includes all of the helpful tips above plus many more.
One of my favorite self care exercises is what I simply refer to as happy thoughts. Sometimes it is easy to let negativity sink in without even recognizing it. It’s these times when we don’t give ourselves enough credit and say something hurtful about our character or our physical appearance. So, when that happens I practice what it referred to as ‘thought stopping’ in the social work world, and replace those icky thoughts with one of my handy dandy happy thoughts I keep stored away.

We all have tough days, and we need to be easier on ourselves in order to get through them. A little gratitude, kindness, and self love can go a long way.

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete ~

-keep shining

For additional holiday blog posts, click here and keep scrolling.

Spring Cleaning For Your Brain

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Spring cleaning season has come and gone quickly this year, hasn’t it?  And decluttering our homes each spring feels good. But along with throwing away old clothes and cleaning out our kitchen cupboards, there are other ways in which we can declutter each spring, starting with your brain….

  • Stop thinking too much…  We let our minds get the best of us sometimes. If we want to declutter our brains and simplify our lives, we have to work on living in the now and what feels right. Quit hesitating, quit overanalyzing. We always want to predict the outcome and think through various scenarios, and we need to stop. ..Think less do more. A little impulsivity and spontaneity is what life is all about. Try to start leaving your comfort zone this summer! 
  • Surround yourself with people or that special someone who makes you a better person… Now that you’re done spring cleaning your home, clean out your friend circle this summer, and assess your current relationships. Do the people in your world bring out the best in you? Do they help you see a new perspective? Do they challenge you in positive ways? Whether friends or a significant other, ask yourself these questions. Some relationships are not meant to last forever, and that is okay. Focus on those who focus on you.
  • Quit feeling the need to defend or explain yourself to people… Life will continue to be exhausting if we live for others. Life will not feel worthwhile if we do not focus on our own wants and needs. How often are we scared of our choices or outcomes based on the concern of how we are going to look to others? How often do we stress over how we are going to defend our actions to others? But WHY do we torture ourselves this way? We do not owe anyone an explanation for our lives or our choices.
  • Forgive yourself for yesterday’s mistakes. We are a different person today than we were yesterday; we change a little bit each and every day. We have grown and learned since yesterday and are in a different mindset today. We cannot go through life focusing on what we could have done differently or beating ourselves up about things in the past. We cannot change yesterday’s mistakes or decisions. Today is a fresh start and a new perspective. Each mistake is a lesson learned, and some mistakes bring us down an even better path than we could have predicted for ourselves. 
  • Don’t ever forget that the best things in life are free. Memories, hugs, kisses, love, family, friends, smile, laughter, sleep…All FREE! Do not forget about all the non-materialistic things in life that make life worth living. Declutter your world and focus on the things that don’t take up any extra space. 

Embrace the glorious mess that you are ~
-keep shining

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Happy Holidays To Me

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When I began to write my holiday blog this year, I was really struggling. I was struggling because I didn’t want to write the same old stuff we always read; be thankful, be grateful, get in the holiday spirit, do for others, etc… I agree that all of this is great and wonderful, as I wrote about it last year (www.swsecrets.net/?p=3), but what else can we focus on this time of year that is equally as important but less talked about? I had to sit with this thought for a few days until I really started to notice one key part of this time of year we are missing the boat on….

OURSELVES! Yes, you! This time of year is typically focused on doing good for others, fundraising, donating our time and money, buying Christmas gifts, getting good discounts, feeling the holiday cheer, and being grateful for all we have in this life….But what about YOU? None of these things can happen without you.

This time of year is hectic, and by the time Thanksgiving gets here I can already tell I need a break, and I bet you all do too. And once Thanksgiving is over, you realize that life is not slowing down anytime soon. Now it becomes the time to give back, put up the holiday lights, make Christmas plans, start planning and prepping our meals and houses for  guests, and start putting holiday work parties on the calendar. Can a get a ‘yikes’ one time?! Let’s all pump the breaks, people! Take time to and focus on you, your needs, and what you want to do during this hectic time of year. Pull back on your crazy schedule and the need to focus on others, because if we aren’t mentally healthy and personally ‘up to par’ then everything else in our lives will suffer a little bit. Everything else in our lives will feel a little more exhausting, stressful, and frustrating because we are forgetting to put ourselves first.

Be selfish. Be about  you. This society focuses so much on doing good for others in order to live a fulfilling life. That is so true, but don’t we need to do good for ourselves and treat ourselves well before we can focus on those around us and their needs? I will give you a hint…..The answer to this question is YES.

I know you all can agree with me on this, but the bigger question is the how? How do we take time for ourselves without feeling guilty, without feeling like other things are not going to get done, and without creating that little anxiety in our bodies if we do not get every ‘t’ crossed and every ‘i’ dotted? Let me give you a few tips and tricks to get you started on your more beautifully selfish life.

  • First and foremost…. It is okay to say no. We do not constantly owe our time and energy to others, and we struggle to say no without coming up with a lie or excuse. But the unfortunate alternative is we say yes, roll our eyes, and start stressing about the things that will be put on hold because we said yes to someone else other than ourselves. Practice saying no. Challenge yourself. You can even practice now. Say it with me… NO NO NO.
    Didn’t that feel good?
  • Plan activities to do alone, and put them in your calendar. Yes, do it….Let me challenge you with this question: Realistically, if you could do anything by yourself right now or this week what would it be? What is the first thing that comes to mind for you? Okay, great. Now write that down, plan it, and put it in your schedule. I can already hear the excuses because I make them all the time (I don’t have time, I have to clean my house, I already have a full week…The list goes on and on). But, I will politely remind you to put that ‘thing’ you thought of in your schedule…..
    Didn’t that feel good? And doesn’t it make you smile?
  • It’s not always better to give than receive. We give so much of ourselves around the holidays, but at what point do we give to ourselves? At what point do we treat ourselves? At what point to we throw our hands in the air and surrender to everything that adds up on the never-ending-to-do list? Yes, it feels good to give to others whether through volunteering, our cooking/baking, or our gift giving. But the most important relationship you will have throughout life is with yourself, and you need to nurture it. Do not always feel that in order to be a good member of society means we have to take time to give back, spend all our hard earned money on food and gifts, and not take a minute of time to ourselves between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This holiday can be about you too, if you let it.
  • If you want to get take-out instead, then do it. If you don’t want to put lights up on your house or decorate head to toe, then don’t. If you don’t want to go caroling with your church group, then don’t. If you don’t want to participate in your work party’s Secret Santa exchange, that is okay….Whether or not you believe me, you have a choice, and you don’t have to do all of these things. And if you’re catching my drift, then you’ll realize that it goes back to saying no. There is too much to do this time of year, and it is up to you to recognize that and then prioritize. For example, this year I was to make the pie for Thanksgiving but I bought one instead. This year my husband and I decided not to buy Christmas lights for the house or buy each other gifts. And you know what? It felt good! Don’t be a superhero this holiday season, just do what it is that you want. After all, this is your holiday season too, not just everyone else’s. Take a breath and prioritize. Your holiday will be much more enjoyable if you’re relaxed.

During these special times of year, take advantage of the opportunity you have to spend time with loved ones, have real conversations, and enjoy authentic moments. 

-Happy Holidays and keep shining

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