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Day 21 – Using our gifts

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We all have gifts and talents, things that just flow for us. We all have a tendency towards some of these things more than others. We have strengths that we can use to further where we are to go in life. When we use the gifts that we have, it creates a relief and a reinforcement of positive worth within us. In most cases we like the gifts that we have, whether they are playing sports or instruments, organizing, writing, painting, managing, planning, or interacting with others. We tend to have a number of these different talents, and when we figure out ways to utilize them both in our work and in our free time, we have a tendency to enjoy our time much more.

It is commonly reported that people who report the lowest amount of stress and highest amount of enjoyment out of their jobs are people who work in helping professions. When we use our gifts to help others, we feel good about ourselves and about what we do. When we use our talents to inspire others, we make a difference in their lives. Many times we overlook the power that we have simply by being here and doing our best. When we see each other trying, working hard, going out on a limb following our dreams and using our talents, then we are able to find hope that the same possibility lies within us.

It doesn’t necessarily feel like we are doing something worthwhile just by doing the things we love to do, but when we work on our talents and grow them people take note. We look at the people we admire and wish we had the courage to do what they do. We want to believe that we are worthy of the opportunity and that we are worthy and capable of taking it. It’s so easy to gloss over using what we love in our lives. By teaching a child to play basketball, by making up creative stories with him, by sharing artwork we’ve created with others, by sewing an outfit for a child or a friend, by teaching someone how to cook, by teaching organizational skills and patience, we are contributing to the well-being of others. We are helping in a meaningful, one of the most meaningful ways that we can.

It doesn’t always feel like it, especially if we are just going through the motions, but when we work through those issues we find that we really are spending our time doing something worthwhile. We are using our gifts to help others. We are using our talents to inspire. We are engaging in what we were put here to do. We spread creativity and love by helping others using the gifts we’ve been given. We aren’t being someone else. We are being who we are at our core.

When we realize the impact we have on an everyday basis, we can put ourselves in a position to use what we have within us to enhance the lives of those around us. When we see that something we did makes even the smallest impact, our self-worth starts to grow. We feel good about ourselves, even though sometimes we turn right around and write it all off. But no matter how much we try, we cannot take away the fact that we did the right thing. We did something good. And we were worthy of doing it. And if we are willing to let it, that impact that we have both on ourselves and others can help initiate change towards the positive side of self-worth. We can choose love again, and let it grow. Once we do we begin to expand ourselves and walk a little bit closer to the person we want to be.

Day 16 – Self-worth (it is the answer)

I know I’ve probably said it before, but since this is mental health month, I’m going to say it again, self-worth is quite possibly the key to understanding who we are and getting us to where we want to go. (otherwise I wouldn’t have written a book about it!) Over the course of my life I struggled with fear and doubt, and all of those things that are normal for us to struggle with. I was always scared, and I never tried to do anything I didn’t think I could be at least good at, if not great. I played the sports that I knew I could be one of the best at. I took the classes I knew I would do well in. Part of this may have been my competitive nature, but in the end the major force behind my decision making was my self-worth.

I never realized when I was younger that my self-worth was an issue. In fact, I didn’t really think it was a problem at all, if I even knew it existed. People have a tendency to group self-worth and self-esteem together, and that’s simply not the case I have come to find out. Even though I used to say that I was never happy, which was true, and I used to say that I didn’t think I’d really get anywhere in life, which was also true, I didn’t truly dislike me. In fact, I liked myself a lot. The thing that I hated was that no one else seemed to. Or maybe it appeared that no one else truly cared about me.

People asked me for help. They readily asked me to do things for them. And it was clear that I was dependable. But it seemed like I was left out of all of the important things. No one asked me out. No one seemed to believe in me. It seemed like people felt as though it was terrible if I didn’t do as they asked, but if I asked for a favor I seemed to be an inconvenience. I had some really great friends, don’t get me wrong. But in my head, I just never felt good enough. But it wasn’t in my eyes that I wasn’t good enough, it was the way I believed everyone else thought about me.

My issue was not that I didn’t like myself. It was not that I didn’t hold myself in high esteem. I knew I could do things well. I knew I could probably be anything I wanted to be when I went to college. But I felt like it would never happen. And when it got down to it, it turned out that I felt like it wouldn’t happen because I wasn’t worthy of it happening. I didn’t go through extraordinary circumstances. My childhood was fairly normal, in my mind. Most people weren’t mean to me, though some were. Instead, most people never knew I existed. At my high school reunion, yes I’m that old, I had more people say, I don’t remember you than anyone else probably. And that’s okay, because I spent a whole lot of time not really wanting to be noticed. And the reason was because I had felt so often that when I did try to make friends or get people to like me, they might for a while, but then they’d move on. I wasn’t really worthy of being a part of a real friendship in my head. And considering how often people were happy to exclude me in middle school, I do understand where this idea came from.

It’s really hard to convince a teenager that these times will pass. That the reason people are mean to  you has very little to do with you. In reality it’s all about themselves. So instead, I decided it was absolutely about me, and since it seemed to be the new general consensus, it was probably right.My issue was not self-esteem. I liked me. I didn’t understand why no one else did. I thought I could do things. I didn’t know why people wouldn’t let me try. So when the times started to change, and they did some in high school and especially college, it was really hard for me to let go and be open to people wanting to be my friends, and believing that anyone really cared. My self-worth had dropped drastically. I didn’t think I was worth it, so I spent my time in high school mostly trying not to be noticed by the people I didn’t already trust.

I liked myself. I believed I was capable. I held myself in high esteem. I thought I could change the world given the chance. But what I found when I finally started my journey into happiness, was that I didn’t really feel worthy. I didn’t feel worthy of my dreams coming true. I didn’t feel worthy of good things happening. So I had decided they wouldn’t, and I put measure into place to make sure I was right. Because that’s what we do in life. We work really hard to prove ourselves right about whatever we decide.

But what I have learned is that I, like everyone else, am worthy. My negative self-worth dictated everything. I knew I was capable, but I acted incapable. I knew I could and should be doing things. I acted as though I couldn’t. And it worked. I wasted a lot of time not getting to where I wanted to go. Self-worth dictates our journey. It leads us on our way. Because the way we feel about our worth is what dictates the way we do things and it affects all other aspects of our being. So my question to you is, do you feel worthy?

Day 15 – How to live the dream

I normally don’t watch Glee, but I watched part of it tonight. I used to be in choir so I’m a fan of chorale singing, but on the show tonight they went to Nationals. The thing that I like most about these moments in shows… the end of the singing shows, and this one as well, is that someone’s dreams are literally coming true at that moment. There is still tons of work ahead. It may not pan out the way they had hoped, but at that moment in time they have achieved something they’ve only dreamed of achieving. The closest I’ve ever come to this is when I was 14 or 15 and playing softball, and the team I was on won the state games (it used to be known as the junior olympics here). I remember singing along to “We Are the Champions.” I remember that overall feeling of how fantastic it was to finally be at the top, to be the winner, for things to have finally gone right.

Those moments don’t last, but they can certainly be moments to strive for. I was a state champion. That can’t be undone. It’s good to achieve things in our lives. It’s good to dream. Speaking in mental health terms, a mind that has hope and is capable of readily dreaming is more open to opportunities and more likely to actually achieve their dreams. They are more likely to report being happy in their lives, and they believe that life has something to offer. Dreams matter. It’s hard to feel fulfilled if we aren’t trying to do any of the things we really want to do. It doesn’t matter how big or small. If we don’t give ourselves a chance then the battle is already lost. And it affects every area of our lives.

It’s hard not to give up. It’s hard not to give in. It’s hard to figure out what’s really worth fighting for. It’s hard not to believe what other people say. But it’s hard living with yourself when you give up. It’s harder than overcoming. We have to make ends meet. We have to survive. But we have to find ways to do more as well. Time is scarce, and is completely irreversible. We are truly on a one-way track. It’s never too late to try. We have to find ways to make our contribution feel worthwhile to ourselves. We get a new chance with each new day. And every day we have something worthwhile to offer. What dreams do you have?

Day 14 – Catharsis

Today I’m just sharing about what it has been like so far writing again. I started out writing this blog this month because it had been so long since I had written. I wanted to see if I could still write, and I wanted to see how it could help shape my mental health practices to start back up. It really has been a nice stress reliever, considering how stressful life has been lately.

Writing for me has always just flowed. There is something in the connection of my pen to paper (my preferred method) or even now typing on a keyboard that just works. By that I mean the things that swirl around in my head at a rapid pace throughout the day have the capacity to be released in a somewhat meaningful manner. There is something unique that happens for me whenever I start to try to unfold all of the things I didn’t know that I was thinking. And sometimes upon review I even surprise myself with what was going on in my head.

I don’t speak well. Words never form properly when I try to get my point across using words. If I even start to speak too loudly, something in my wants to cry, which makes no sense. So I’ve never been good at yelling in arguments, which is fine for me as it’s not my preferred method of communication anyway. There is a disconnect that happens when I try to say the things I want to say. While there is a complete connection that seems to extend beyond me when I try to write the things I want to write. Even the things I don’t want to write just flow out of me when I’m writing. In a sense I feel more brave when I am writing. In another I feel relieved. It’s as though I am able to voice my concerns to the universe and have them displayed in a manner that makes sense, instead of a manner that fails to be comprehensible.

I’m quite glad at the moment that I did start writing. Even though I’m a little concerned that I have no clue what I will write about from here on out. It’s hard to be too deep constantly. And it’s difficult to find the lines between what I feel is worth sharing and what isn’t. We all have things that flow for us in our lives. What are some of yours??

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