SECRETS OF A SOCIAL WORKER

Find peace.Find happiness.Find yourself

Tag: self worth (page 1 of 2)

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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Shame.

One of the worst moments of my life was winning the grand and oh-so-important title of Homecoming Queen. I know this sounds ridiculous, however there are two main reasons why this day sucked so royally…For starters, I had no idea until that moment how truly mean people could be. Even friends that I was used to having in my corner were not, and I was blindsided by this. It was a time in my life of being very hurt, confused, and emotionally drained. I knew back then that homecoming was not something people remembered or that even mattered after high school. And frankly, I did not care whether or not I ‘won’ anything like that. But winning was the best thing that could have happened to me, because experiencing this kind of hate made me realize how important friendship is. I recall telling myself that I would never make anyone feel the way I felt. I decided in that moment if I am anything in this life, it’s that I will be remembered as a damn good friend.
The second reason this day sucked was because people I was not close with at all or spoke to much were the ones that were there for me. I was so grateful for them, but immediately felt an intense amount of guilt for not noticing or spending more time with these people throughout high school. That guilt has carried into adulthood, and I sometimes find that the guilt starts trickling into the most damaging feeling of all; Shame.

One thing we know about guilt is that it co-exists with shame. I still have small, random moments of feeling shame over that experience in my life. My thoughts go something like this, “what kind of person was I that I did not thank them more for being so nice, or that I didn’t spend time with them? I wonder what type of person they think I am. Did I hurt their feelings? Did they regret being so nice to me?” …Isn’t this absolutely ridiculous? The shame I still hold onto for something so small and irrelevant upsets me.

We all do this. We feel badly for so many things we did or did not do, or messed up, or regret (guilt), and then start to allow that guilt to define the type of person that we are (shame). Guilt is the feelings associated with I did something bad (the behavior), whereas shame is the thought that I am bad (self worth). Often times our guilt turns into shame…But it is so important to separate our behavior from who we are as a person.

It’s also important to understand that guilt is how we feel we have affected others, whereas shame relates directly with our feelings/beliefs about ourselves. Guilt is where we feel responsible for something we did, and shame is the painful awareness we are flooded with when we feel we are ‘improper’ or are now damaged in some way. The feelings we get from chalking ourselves up to being ‘damaged’ can be so overpowering and painful that it fogs our ability to further develop our sense of purpose, confidence, and worthiness. Once we move past the healthy feelings of guilt (empathy and recognizing that we feel badly for hurting someone) and into this feeling of being less-than (shame) is when we stunt our ability to grow. It’s when we listen to the internal beliefs we have about ourselves…The little voice that says, “I knew you couldn’t do it”, “I knew you’d fail”, or, “no one will ever love you”.

I am surrounded by shame, not only because as a female it’s unfortunately such a societal norm to feel shame, but also working with victims who are often blamed for the abuse they have experienced…Being told countless times by society that they had a choice or ‘asked’ for it, or are questioned for their decisions. Through these victims, I continually see how much shame interferes with personal growth. It is devastating to watch shame take over someone’s whole being and sense of self, and cause them to continually face the downward spiral of self hate. This is where people feel unworthy, self-loathing, and a sense of not belonging. There is nothing productive about shame because it’s where we become self destructive, careless, and defeated.

Take-Aways:

  • It is so important to separate person from behavior. Labels lead to developing a sense of shame.
  • Surround yourself with people who do not judge, blame, or label.
  • Tell yourself you love yourself, daily, and why. If this is hard or awkward for you, I would challenge you to have an honest conversation with yourself and unpack that. Find where the why is and start to explore reasons to love who you are and what you bring to the table.
  • Be more aware of positive/negative self talk. When you mess up, do you say, “I should not have done that”(guilt), or, “I am not a good person” (shame)? Focus on your behavior and how to change/learn from that, but you do not need to correlate that with the kind of person you are.
  • Think about all of your positive qualities, and then think of your flaws. If it’s uncomfortable or difficult to think of your positive traits, and/or your flaws list is larger and easier to talk about, work on changing that. Life is too short not to love who you are and celebrate that each and every day.
  • Talk about it. We cheer on people around us when they are vulnerable, yet we don’t want to do it ourselves. It feels scary, foreign, or like people will judge us. But talking about it helps us recognize and work through it, gives the shame less power in our brains, and provides some relief. We continue to go down the rabbit hole in our heads when we stay silent.
  • Accept that you are going to mess up, hurt people, embarrass yourself…These are normal experiences and we will never outrun them.
  • Learn what your triggers are…What are some environments where that little voice likes to chime in? Prepare yourself for this and be vigilant about identifying the feeling before it expands.
  • Quit apologizing for everything. We say sorry for being who we are, or for things we have no control over. Focus on and work towards letting go of this habit.
  • Do not give shame space in your head. You are lovely, just the way you are, but the key is that you believe it too.

Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change~

-keep shining

Blogs about guilt:
Guilty Conscious
Free Yourself From Guilt
Color Outside The Lines

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But you gain yourself.

People may leave when you… 

Set boundaries 

Stop saving them 

Know your own worth

Quit doing their emotional work 

Ask them to leave their comfort zone 

Stand up for yourself 

Stop searching for their validation

Put your happiness before theirs 

Find your power 

Tell them how you feel 

Challenge them 



-keep shining

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Podcast-Finding Your Worth

https://www.kellysisson.com/podcast/melissa-williams

Color Outside The Lines

A common theme I have noticed lately is the amount of guilt we suffer with as humans. Many friends and clients I interact with have shared stories with me about their guilt and how they’ve allowed it to control decisions they make or skew their perspective. These conversations have lead me to realize how much we allow guilt to paralyze us. We constantly suffer from guilt, let it eat us alive, and alter our decision-making. We feel guilty for things we don’t do, things we do, things we do or don’t say, not doing enough or doing too much. And if we let it, guilt is a never ending cycle of torture. And it causes us to fear life rather than enjoy every twist and turn it has to offer.

The way out of guilt is to look inward. We cannot allow guilt to run our lives. When we do, we are not living our own truths, and we are veering off path from the things we want to experience. Life isn’t about fearing and second-guessing every decision we make. Life is about navigating fear, not letting it win us over. Life would be so much easier if we feared less, and only you can remove the fear.

Unfortunately, it is so normal for us to abide by the rules set by other people and institutions. We try to avoid feeling guilty or avoid being out of compliance with what ‘rules’ have been set for us. But we have to push aside what people and institutions have said to us; all the rules, the do’s and don’ts. I am not saying having morals and values are not important, but we do not need to feel guilt for making mistakes or just doing something different. Morals and values can change with our growth as an individual, but we fear going against the norm. There is so much fear instilled in us through people and institutions that we forget to ask ourselves the most important questions; What do we want for ourselves? What is it that we want to experience?
We live in such fear of doing ‘wrong’…We forget that we are in the driver’s seat. Ask yourself who ultimately gets to decide what is ‘wrong’ for your life…Why aren’t we deciding for ourselves what is right or wrong?

We put way too much emphasis on other people’s and institution’s feelings and expectations of us. But the contradicting part is that it is our life to live. You are a good person, you are loved, and you are human. People put so much emphasis on guilt or fear around a ‘judging God’ (and by God I mean any higher power, institution, spirit, etc. you believe in). God LOVES you, period. You will not be judged for going this way or that way in your life. There is no judgement from God…just love. This is the hang up many people have; displeasing a ‘judging God’.

We cannot allow fate to happen when we live in fear, yet we try to allow fate and fear both to be the most impactful and dominate factors in our lives….This idea is impossible. Fate cannot express itself if the motivating or controlling force behind our actions/decisions is fear. We are distracted from experiencing our fate because of the guilt we hoard. We need to be easy on ourselves and let go a little bit. There is nothing to fear.

When we remove the guilt and focus more on our wants and our own decisions or rights/wrongs, we feel better. We become more certain about what we want. If we can remove the guilt, our minds and bodies will tell us over time what direction is right. Of course it’s human of us to want to consider how our decisions affect others, but don’t forget to keep yourself in that equation as well. The love for yourself should be of the upmost importance to you.

There are many situations in my life where one would assume I’d need to feel guilt, but I don’t let that consume me. I am my own person who is making my own decisions based on what I want at that time. No one can tell me what is right or wrong for me, only I know what feels right and what needs to happen for me to move forward. I don’t owe anyone an explanation.

It’s okay to color outside the lines now and then. Your feelings, opinions, and actions are legitimate because you say they are. You meander through life as your own unique self. You are not purposefully trying to harm institutions you believe in or hurt other people you love. And the God you believe in knows that. You’re just doing your best and living life on your terms. We are all just trying to figure it out. And how beautiful is that?…Isn’t that what life is about?

Once you decide to live on your own terms, notice who rises to the surface to be beside you. Who accepts you for who you are, and who knows your value and your heart. Those are the people who truly understand you. Quit apologizing for actions you take or saying sorry for being who you are, just be aware of it as this helps you understand what you want in your life.

We are always changing, learning, growing. We do not need to tell people every single time we change or justify our behavior, because we are just changing continuously. We do not need to straighten it out, fix things, apologize…It is okay to just be changing, as we all do. Change helps us grow, and growth brings us happiness.

Guilt is a sure way to unhappiness and stress, and guilt is a constant state of paranoia around ‘doing what you’re supposed to’ (whatever that means). The rest of your life is a really long time to not be sure if you’re happy. It is important to ask yourself if suffering with guilt and living in fear is worth compromising your own truth, well-being, and experiences that you’d want for yourself. It’s important to know that whatever choices you make, they are a part of you. They are teaching you, and that does not make you a bad person. Don’t forget that YOU get to decide. You are a good person, and there is only LOVE.

No amount of guilt can change the past. No amount of anxiety can shape the future. 

-keep shining

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