Day 2: (Day 1 is here if you missed it) Now that we have had the chance to look at ourselves in an honest and open format, it’s important to understand also, why we are where we are. In reality, we are usually where we are because we choose to be there. We made the choices on our path, and this is what they equaled out to. There are certain issues that cause us to move in certain directions, and there are things in life that are not within our control, but for the most part we are the guiding force in where we go and what we do each day.
We now have to begin to understand why we make the choices we make that lead us to where we are. We all have inherent predispositions that we are born with. Some of us are more likely to be shy and some more likely to be outgoing. Some of us are more likely to be tall, some short. Some of us are going to be more likely to be athletic. Some writers, some business-oriented, some introspective, some narcissistic (if you’re reading this, you’re probably not really.). Some of us have the capacity to be born understanding that we are worthy. We know that we are with a life that is going to be worth living. We have something to contribute. We can share that which we have, and we can make things better for those around us. We are worthy of the good things life has to offer inherently.
That last sentence is true for all of us. We are worthy. But for a good many of us (myself certainly included) this concept is not something we carry with us throughout our lifetime. We instead struggle with worth. And this may be things that appear small in nature. We have a bit of a tendency to be negative; when we are trying to make small talk our jokes tend be more like a slight (not necessarily intentional) than a joke, and we look for reasons things probably won’t work out. We have a tendency to be scared of change. To be scared or unwilling to go after our dreams, the things we really want. We might not even know what those things are because we are so certain they won’t happen, what’s the point in letting them in. We thought about them years ago, but life has happened since then. We know exactly why no one understands us. We aren’t sure anyone ever will. We settle. We let go. We give in. We can see those who clearly should be succeeding and pretend we certainly can’t ever be them, because we don’t have whatever manufactured attributes they do. We feel like we might deserve good things, but can think of 100 things we could have done differently that would probably make us much more deserving, so it’s probably right that we don’t have the things we want. Or that life isn’t the way we really wish it would be. We self-sabotage. We keep ourselves down.
All of these things are born out of fear. Fear tells us we aren’t worthy. And it happily lists all the reasons why. And when a person is inclined towards fear, it becomes really difficult to outmaneuver it. It guides our steps, gives us stress, and throws in some confusion just to make it that much harder to even think that things can stop. We don’t know how to think that life can be different, because fear tells us it can’t. And the only way to move out of fear is to realize that we are worthy. That I, the person sitting here staring at this screen, am someone who has worth. Not just a little bit. Not fleeting worth. But permanent lasting worth that does not go away, and it is up to me to recognize it and utilize it. No one can do it for me. Even if I don’t see it, it is there.
As we look at ourselves today our exercise is this: As we talk again to our friend, the goal to write out where we are and why we are here. We want to uncover what drives our decision making. Are we making our choices out of fear or out of hope and love. So we again make our lists:
Things I want to keep about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans for the future…etc. Again anything at all you want to keep about where you are in your life.
Things I want to change about where I am: the place I live, my family, my relationship status, my career, my plans…etc. Anything you want to change, and prioritize them.
Then we go through any specifics we have about the changes we want to make:
I want to move from a to b. I want to change my career from employee to assistant manager, or from business to dance. I want to go from this terrible relationship to being single and being okay being alone.
And then as we did yesterday, we have a positive foundation for where we are at this moment, we have things we want to change and what we want to change them into, and we have the understanding that we are capable and worthy of making these changes.
(For a more in depth look at the way self-worth, impacts our every day lives, it’s covered in my book )
I’ve had a lot of questions lately about getting started. People who are interested in understanding how to change their current circumstance in some way or another, or in most ways altogether. So I decided it might be a good idea to try to help by plotting out some initial groundwork, and well, since I have a blog, I decided to share it here. But since it will be long, I decided to break it up (It’s probably still long – apologies – it should be helpful though.)
Day 1: To begin I always feel like it’s basically impossible to change anything we want if we haven’t had the chance to really evaluate some important things. The first two are: who we are and where we are – right here, right now. And these two can give us a foundation to work towards who we want to be and where we want to be. And one of the most important keys that influences all of these factors is self-worth. Obviously, I believe in understanding self-worth – I studied it while I was in graduate school (and beyond) and I wrote a book about it. And as we travel through these evaluations, it’s important to remember just how much of a navigational pull self-worth really has, so we will naturally begin uncovering our own individual feelings of self-worth and learning how to use our worth as a tool for success in our journey.
A while back there were some studies done that showed that there was a difference in levels of honesty between subjects who were sitting in a room writing about themselves where one room had a mirror sitting beside the table and the other simply a blank wall. When we are actually forced to stop and look and face ourselves, it’s different than the rest of the time when we can coast through largely ignoring things and knowing that we are planning on fixing whatever may need to be fixed “soon.” Part of this is helpful, we can’t function in panic-mode all the time, it’s not efficient. We have to compromise at certain points in time, it’s simply the way of life. But when we get lost and going along down the same road is no longer a viable option, we have to take the time to find out what is.
We start by looking at who we are. What we know to be true about ourselves where we are right now, in the moment. I was doing this exercise (that I will share next) a short while back sort of explaining it to someone, and I began talking about myself and I described a part of my past as “pathetic,” but I gave it a present-tense verb. I said, “I know, I’m pathetic.” And suddenly I realized that a part of me actually currently felt that way. It wasn’t a mistake. Maybe a Freudian slip, I suppose. And it was an issue I honestly had believe I had worked through all the way. And I started to panic a little, almost on the verge of tears, because I didn’t know what this meant. It had been a while since I had really sat down to look at where I was at and how I was coming along on my goals. I had started simply coasting, because I knew things were mostly going how I wanted them to go. The parts that weren’t technically had an easy fix, that I would “soon” engage in, but I thought I was good. Better than ever. So when I had this moment, I didn’t know how to handle it, and I had to take the time and look back into myself and see who I was, right there, right then to me.
The exercise is this: Describe who you are in writing as if in a conversation with someone who could be (or is) your best friend. This is someone you could tell all of your truths to, no judgment, only understanding.
The goal in this exercise is to uncover in a conversational manner how we feel about who we are right here, right now. So we write it out on paper, (or simply have the conversation in our minds if we don’t want to write it out right now, for whatever reason) and we have a starting point to gather who we are.
From this conversation we write down things we want to keep and (Separately) the things we want to change in order of priority. We want to begin to see who we are right now with a positive starting point and try to understand where we need to go to be closer to who we want to be. And we want to write down what we want to change those things we are displeased with into – what do we want the things we don’t like to become. And with this we have a positive foundation, a gauge of what we need to change and a sight for what we want to change into.
Examples would be:
1. Things I want to keep: Empathy, desire/motivation to change, organizational habits, messiness, ability to love, workout habits, relationship skills, faith, competitive, happiness, etc…. the list can truly be anything you want to keep about you.
2. Things I want to change: Negativity, judgment, lack of motivation, messiness, workout habits, faith, won’t let anyone in, (un)competitive, unhappiness, etc….again, the any of the things you want to change.
3. What I want these things to change into: Negativity to positive attitude, build others up instead of discouraging them and/or judging them, from boredom to looking for ways to help out, from messy to organized, etc.
We are looking at helping ourselves to transform from who we are into who we truly want to be. It’s important to be honest, to be in depth, and to be willing to be open to the journey. All journeys take time, but to go on one we must be willing to step on board. Keep what you write or work really hard to remember what you created in your head. We’ll use them again, as this is our starting point.
I have nominated you for the Versatile Blog Award. Your blog has inspired me. If you choose to accept the award, here are the guidelines:
Last week I was nominated for a few awards, and I wanted to be sure that I said thank you to those of you who nominated me. I’m glad that you enjoy reading my blog. I very much enjoy reading yours as well. Patti Clark and Timzauto both nominated me for the Versatile Blog Award, and Diane nominated me for the Readers Appreciation Award. Thank you all! It’s very kind of you. I’m kind of surprised anyone likes my blog. But I’m glad you do.
Here are their websites, you should check them out:
These are the 7 things (I’m supposed to share 7 things I want you to know)
1) I learned how to insert pictures on blogs, but not on the sides yet… progress.. one step at a time
2) I’m a terrible conversationalist in person. I’m only wordy when I write
3) I’m much better with things like this if I had questions to answer, not coming up with them on my own
4) I like proper grammar. Even if I don’t use it all the time.
5) I never, ever use what I refer to as text speak. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the only way I can pretend to be elitist. But I type out words. Maybe I just like typing.
6) My hands turn orange when I eat a lot of vegetables. I got quite concerned the first time it happened.
7) My book is good. You should read it. Amazon won’t let me give it away for free. Otherwise I would. 🙂
Last night I watched “We Bought a Zoo.” And in it he says, “all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage…” And that made me think about all the people I knew who had something to say about the movie. So many people said it was just what they needed. They were thinking about major changes in their lives and they needed something to happen. It’s funny how so many of us feel that way. That we need something to happen. There needs to be a change. We aren’t where we want to be, and we aren’t sure we are getting to where we want to be either. In life it’s quite easy to lose track of where we wanted to go.
Circumstance can be to blame much of the time, but it’s circumstance that we have created for the most part. We want to believe something can still happen. And when we see it happen for other people, we believe it again ourselves. But we need constant reminders. Most of us see something, get inspired, but never take the steps to follow through. We tend to look over just how much it takes to take a chance. To just go for it. To go for all that we wanted. A lot of times we opt not to because we don’t want to fail. Because if we fail at the things we really want, then what does that mean? What’s left from there? And it goes a lot deeper.
Unfortunately for us, taking the easy way has a tendency to become the hard way. Because easy has a tendency to couple itself right up with unfulfilled. And maybe it’s easy at first to live that way, because we still hope and there’s still time. But time moves much more quickly, and what we find when we look back is chances not taken. And the mundane of the everyday and unfulfilled gets wearing. We have reasons we do what we do. We have reasons for the things we don’t do as well. I’ve studied psychology for a long time. I’ve counseled people. I’ve consulted. I’ve spent the better half of my life helping people, even in a non-professional level. People have always come to me for help. I never understood why when I was younger. Even now, I’m not always sure. But it always seems to work out.
In life we have to have an understanding. We have to have a reason to believe in ourselves. We have to have the skills to look inside and understand ourselves. Because society has a tendency to tell us things that are untrue. The people closest to us, even our closest friends and family don’t always have our best interest in mind. That means it’s up to us to care enough about ourselves to learn how to get to where we need to be.
Today my book was “officially” released. In paper back and in e-book format. In certain book stores who were willing to take a chance. And at this point in time when I’m surrounded by chaos, and lots of bad news, I’m not sure what to do with that. I was told I needed to tell people it was out, so I guess I am right now. But I don’t know if this is how I’m supposed to do it. It’s hard, because I knew how important it was that I don’t waste anyone’s time. The reason I wrote the book that I wrote, and not a “quick fix” book as was suggested to me, is because the message that’s in the book is important. Transformation takes time. Changing your life takes time. But it starts with one day. It starts with knowledge. It starts with taking the moment to say, I’m going to try. I’m going to jump in. I’m going to have insane courage. And the book tells you why you should have that courage. It tells you why you are worthy of the things you need. It tells you how to breathe again when it’s dark and frustrating. It tells you why you should make it through. It tells you how to start changing your life, piece by piece. And why your life can and should become the amazing life you wanted, no matter what has happened in the past. It tells you how to forgive, how to let go, how to move forward. All the things that are too long to write in a blog. And it tells it well.
So what I’m saying is I hope everyone has the courage to try. Try to become the person you want to be. If the book can help, take a look. If you know someone who needs a life change or just wants an entertaining read, or needs a graduation gift, tell them to look. It’s worth the time. It’s worth the information. And it’s worth taking the chance to try. The read is easy. The information is good. Nothing I’ve ever done has taken more courage. And it’s terrifying. So even though you don’t have to, if you want to share the message. If someone needs help, lead them to it. We all have somewhere we need to go. We just need a little guidance sometimes in getting there.
And if you bought a zoo already, or have a story to share, let me know 🙂 We all have multiple things to contribute. We all have things to make life worthwhile. So why not share them? Why not have the courage to try!?
Barnes and Nobles:
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?
“They didn’t have you where I come from. Never knew the best was yet to come. Life began when I saw your face. And I hear your laugh like a serenade.
How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Is forever enough? How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough? Cause I’m never never giving you up.” Lullaby, The Dixie Chicks
There are certain songs I can’t listen to, because they make me cry every time. This song happens to be one of them. What I was lucky enough to learn from taking care of my nephews is just how quickly time passes. I remember the days both of my older nephews were born. My mother and I were at the hospital waiting. And from day 1, my heart had a new home. I remember with each passing year when I was in high school and entering into college thinking, “gosh I can’t believe it’s already been a year, two years, etc. “ They will be 13 and 14 this summer. Which is insanity. In just 4 short years I will have a nephew in college and one who is a senior in high school. There is nothing like having a child to teach you just how quickly time flies. And I tell all of my mother-to-be friends that. I feel a little lucky that Jack was born in December, because I get to sneak at least an extra 6 months with him, and I’m smart enough to know that I should take what time I can get.
When the world starts getting to me, including the stress of dealing with a preschooler, I have started to stop and remove myself for however many minutes I can, and I remind myself that all of this is fleeting. All of it is ever-changing. We are constantly moving, and I have to remember what’s important. It’s hard, because being able to pay bills, have food, have a car, childcare for Jack, those are all things that are essential to our survival as well. And sometimes the outlook gets a little bit bleak. It gets difficult to stay strong. It gets difficult not to give up or give in (I’m talking about jobs here, not life). So finding a path for us is extremely important.
But when I get those moments, and I get that chance to just be, and to look at Jack and know how much I love him. How much I care. And how quickly these times are going to pass by, I get a chance to stop and appreciate this time. I don’t appreciate the stress. But I get to stop feeling it for those moments. I’d appreciate the struggle more if I could see the outcome, but one day I will. And I’m okay with that for now. So in this post I’d just like to say, cherish the moments, ever-fleeting as they are that give us the chance to just know love. And I hope that everyone has something or someone that gives them a place of refuge. In the end it comes from within. A place where we know we are in the presence of something good. I know I’m in the presence of something good, because I am in the presence of love, and it is the love that I have to give and share. And I’m so very thankful that it is returned in the way that it is with my son.
There are 31 days this month to celebrate “Mental Health” May. Today is day 2.It’s fascinating how much more difficult it is for me to write when I feel like I have to do it. I have actually written very little in about a year and a half anyway. But, one of the reasons I started doing this was so that I could try to renew my ability to write, and hopefully it would have the cathartic effect it used to. I think part of my problem coming back to writing is that I always used to write in the dark. If we were writing in school, I would get under a table so that I could have my own personal, protected space so I could write. At home I would turn the light to my bedroom off and use a lamp or flashlight so that I could write without being interrupted. I developed a feeling of safety when writing in the dark. It’s as though it’s just me and my paper. Or in this case my computer. But once I turned the lights off tonight, I do feel that protection again, which I hope will allow me to write with more ease and creativity than I’ve felt over the past year or so.
I wanted to make sure with this blog that there was a purpose. I don’t want to be wasting anyone’s time. I was to put forth the effort that it deserves for both myself and anyone who may come across it. Life’s too short. It’s too short to waste on a bad book, on a bad day,on a bad relationship, on a bad job. There’s too much to do. Too many chances. Even though most we must make ourselves. If we have to put in effort and time it needs to be in the things that are worth it. The things we believe in.
So today what I believe in is hope. I know that when faith, hope, and love were left, love was picked as the greatest, but I think it’s hard to find love if you don’t have hope. In fact, it’s hard to do more than merely survive if we don’t have hope. Pandora had a box (or maybe a jar), and all of the riches were pulled from it except one. And what was left in the box was hope. Hope is something completely intangible. It’s something completely non-scientific in nature. It’s hard to measure. It’s hard to assess. Someone in a lab can never truly know whether or not a person had hope or just how much the person being studied really had. We cannot measure it, even in our box, so in the world of science it can quickly be cast aside. But on a daily basis, hope saves lives. Hope inspires one to help another. Hope motivates one to pursue a dream or follow his passion. Hope gives those without a chance a hand to fight with. Homer wrote, “There is a strength in the union even of very sorry men.” He may have been speaking of physical weakness, but we all have our own areas where we falter. When we unite together, we do so in hope. Perhaps it’s out of necessity. Perhaps it out of desire. But no matter what, as we unite in hope a strength appears and it is stronger than it was when we were on our own. Hope has the power to transform the intangible fight into the tangible victory. Hope gives us the courage to believe. And that makes its immeasurable existence invaluable. Today my goal is to find someone who needs hope in one area or another (no matter how big or small) and to hope with them. We all need someone on our side. Do you have anyone who needs hope shared their way? Are there things you didn’t realize you were hoping for? An invisible world come to life? Who knows what you’ll find. 🙂