Changes or Simply Put – Do Better

Change – Do Better

Sometimes we’re not aware of the changes happening in our lives. You wake up one morning and something is missing or something new has arrived. The days blend from one to the next and you don’t necessarily remember when it happened, but it’s different now. Those are the changes we’re used to.

Other changes you have to make. You can’t wait for experience or a slap in the face from reality – you just have to decide and make it happen. It’s not an evolution or growth; it’s a decision. You understand that you’re not backed into a corner, but unless you do better you’re not going to move forward OR you’re going to lose something very important.

It’s been said that talking about our struggles is our biggest [unhealthy] addiction. As an only child with a limited social circle, this has always been true for me. True, unfortunately, to a very undesirable and unhealthy degree. I over think things and create problems that don’t exist. Instead of just acting in a way that will benefit me, I stew. I worry, I think, I anticipate, I discuss, and I circle the problem until it’s a million times worse than it was and I’ve isolated several friends who just can’t hear it anymore.

Writing was always my go to relief when friends weren’t an option. I’ve gotten lazy about it lately with new friends and a whole new variety of social interactions opening up. I started talking again. Recognizing this as a problem, I’m taking the initiative to start working my problems out through words instead – at least until I get to the point where I’m confident enough to just react. Okay, maybe the initiative had some prodding, but no one can force me into that.

Greek Mythology is filled with stories about self-fulfilling prophecies. It’s something we’ve long been amused by and have carried throughout time as cautionary tales against not being self-aware. The only problem is you can be too self-aware. So wrapped up in the things you know about yourself – the patterns you recognize, the behaviors and mistakes you repeat, your habits, etc. – that you forget to actually act differently. This is where I’m at.

I want to understand and I want to explain. I want to show people and have them love me regardless. Most times, they do! It’s surprising how loving people really are. What they aren’t is supportive of your own self-destruction. They want to be nice to you. They want to have fun with you. They want to love you. What they don’t want is to have to convince you of that on a regular basis.

Be in the moment –  all the moments. Invest in the people around you. If you’re lonely, sad, insecure, and want to stop feeling alone, then look up from your own worries at the people who are right in front of you. You’re not alone. You’re just feeding the fear. It’s not a battle they can fight for you. Chances are they’ve already tried.

They have told you they care. They have shown you that you’re safe. They have encouraged you in every way they know how. It’s your turn to show them that you noticed – that their effort was worth the investment because you are changing. You are growing up and you’re ready for the next phase of life. It’s going to be awesome.

So often, we run from the very thing we’re afraid of. What if it’s exactly what we need. Everything we have EVER needed. Does that make the struggle a lie? Our identity a lie? I think we have to acknowledge that we are a fluid being, something that changes. We are mayhem: instable-chaotic-imperfect-perfection. Embracing our own brand of crazy is not only what makes life colorful; it’s what gives us the flexibility, perseverance, and spunk to survive.

I write to process, but even though I feel like words are my heart, they’re not my life. My life is in those moments where I forget about thinking and just experience those around me. We connect because we need it to survive. By staying trapped in our own thoughts, we’re literally starving ourselves of affection, acceptance, and love. 

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Move On Part II

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes we stumble. It is in those moments we realize how imperfect we are. We realize that, like everyone else, we don’t actually have any idea what we’re doing. In many cases, this is the moment where you realize that your fears and habits have been leading the way and causing a wake of destruction.

Stop focussing on that. Right now. Seriously. You’re better than your mistakes and you’re better than the path you’ve been walking on. It got you here and now that you’re aware of it, you and ONLY you have the power to change it. Maybe you’ve made mistakes that seem like nothing but a bruise or maybe you’ve been such a selfish asshole that you’re doing more than just frustrating people – you’re literally shoving them out of your life with the choices you’ve made.

Either way, you can’t change that. Don’t apologize for the nine-hundredth time. Don’t dwell on what you could/should/might have done differently. Take a breath, wipe your eyes, and take the next step forward. Become comfortable in your own discomfort. Remember this feeling because you never ever want to come back here.

I’ve had a fixation with the illusion of stars for some time now. There’s at least half a dozen quotes and songs about the stars and darkness and what magical and wonderful clusters of energy they are. Just like us. It’s this moment when you decide to stop hiding, stop apologizing, stop needing.

After years of being trapped in my own thoughts I’ve started to feel human again. I’ve started to look at things from a completely different perspective. One in which I am NOT the center of every action, thought process, or event. Don’t get me wrong, I never thought the world revolved around me – it was more like every bad thing that happened, negative thought, or accident revolved around things I did wrong.

If someone was quiet for a little while I assumed I did something wrong. If someone was angry or upset I assumed I was either a. making it worse or b. not good enough to make it better. If I wasn’t secure in my own value as a person I would do everything I could to be pleasing, accommodating, and helpful. These are all horrible, horrible mistakes.

If you’re still reading my crazy rant, then I’m going to assume that you’ve connected with some part of it. Here’s the thing, stop overthinking it. Get out of your own mind and assume that all those worries and fears you have don’t matter, because they don’t. What matters is how you respond and even more how you accept other people’s responses.

People want to be nice to you. They want to be your friend. They want to care about you. Let them! Don’t make it difficult and don’t make them feel like they have to carry you. Recognize that you probably help them in ways you haven’t even realized. Because let’s face it, as people we use each other. Not in a selfish or hurtful way, but we’re drawn to people who either present an opportunity for us, make us feel something, teach us, etc. There’s a million things you get from the people you care about.

They’re getting something from you too or they wouldn’t be around. You matter. You have value. Deal with it and move the fuck on already. Just stop needing that validated and be calm. Love of all kinds is slow to build, but that is what makes it real and the growth is what makes it last. Give it the time it needs, you’ll only benefit in the long run.

Other Side of Fear

Okay, so you know that moment when someone does something for themselves, but it also happens to be EXACTLY what you need. So much so that even though normally it would leave you broken and crying in the fetal position (because you’re over emotional and dramatic), but because it happens to be just what you need – you’re totally fine. Yeah, that’s happening. Except instead of totally fine, I’m totally spazzing out over it because I’m PERFECTLY FINE and for once NOT over-thinking a damn thing. I realize that makes no sense.

I’m at a point in life where I’m very aware of the changes taking place and my own personal growth. Instead of feeling upset or rejected I’m just like, oh right, it’s time. Then I’m frustrated that I’m so okay with it… I don’t even fully know why. I realize that part of it is just that change is new and always a little bit uncomfortable, but also there’s part of me that feels like if I’m totally fine then WOW have I been lying to myself for longer than I can remember.

I started out totally overthinking it and it wasn’t even ten minutes and I was just, like, oh wait, that’s not what happened. Then I was fine, annoyed, but fine. I’m not even really annoyed about it happening just that it’s so freaking simple. I have every confidence that I will be fine and at one point can manage to just be myself without being awkward. For now, back to the plan where I just learn some independence and evolve a bit more. So yeah, I’m here just kind of reeling through the frustration and annoyance. I need to get busy on something… Growing up is not cool, dammit!

Overthinking to Just Be

Once you realize that you’re stuck in your own mind its easy to see that you need to stop. If you’ve ever tried to not think about something you know this merely adds pressure with no actual solution. So, naturally, you start thinking about what will get you distracted.If you’re like me, you’re going to fall back on some distracting hobby you enjoy. Reading, writing, music, walking, and bubble baths are my big go to distractions. Sometimes they work and sometimes it takes several of them all at once or one after another.

In one of my classes this semester we’ve been studying how to change your own behavior. A big focus of this is how stuck in patterns we get, to the point where you’re not even aware of said behavior. For example, biting your nails is a very automatic habit that many people have experienced. One of the tips in stopping this is to recondition yourself to understanding what this behavior feels like. They suggest actually participating in the activity with COMPLETE focus. Make your mind aware of what is going on so that it doesn’t switch straight over to auto-pilot.

Using that theory, I have started to push myself into activities that will make me feel better (or at least should in theory). Instead of allowing the frustration to take over and giving up, I’ve started to really pay close attention to what I’m doing. Paying attention to how it feels and imagining how I want it to feel. I find my mind wandering back to my troubles, but just like with meditation I keep redirecting the thoughts back to what is going on in that moment.

Stop overthinking. Just be. Eventually the gap will close and you’ll realize how much energy you’ve been wasting on needless worry and bad habits.

 

Discovering Rock Bottom

“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”― J.K. Rowling

Rock bottom was never a place I even realized I had reached. When we think rock bottom, we tend to think of that point between survival and existence. Truth be told, our lives are not always that dramatic. Not everyone has a plot twist that equates to a bestselling novel or blockbuster hit. For many of us, it is something more subtle, yet still terribly difficult.

As much of a trial as we understand rock bottom to be – the phrase itself is problematic. It has a certain amount of inherent discord. What was rock bottom for me, might pale in comparison to someone else’s experience. On the other hand, I might not have the skills or knowledge to triumph over a different version of rock bottom.

Life prepares each of us for what we are going up against. Your experiences prepare you for the trials to come. If you aren’t feeling that, then chances are you’re not open to the lessons those moments are providing you with. If that’s the case, it’s time to wake up and pay attention. Get out of your own head for a bit and you will be surprised what’s waiting at your feet.

I was in a pretty normal place for me when I realized that the healing had begun. I wasn’t in terrible shape, but I wasn’t aware of making much progress either. I had been in counseling just shy of a year and I was facing some tough defeating behaviors and negative thinking. Progress was slow and I wasn’t happy that life didn’t seem to be cutting me any breaks.

In a complete rant about how defeated I felt, I started to get pretty pissed that things weren’t going my way. I remember saying how badly I just wanted to quit working towards something better. The next words slipped from my lips on their own. “I’ve overcome so much already that I know I can handle whatever comes next, even if I don’t like it.” In that moment, I knew I was over the proverbial hill. I had already overcome so much and even if I didn’t know what was coming next I knew, KNEW, that I could overcome that as well.

We all have survival skills. The problem is that for many of us that is all they are. We survive, but we do not grow or evolve. I had become complacent in my misery and was happy to continue upon that path, as long as things didn’t get worse. Obviously I knew something wasn’t right because I was there trying to work through it, but I can’t say I was completely invested in becoming a new me either.

Even in that small moment of awareness, I had no concept of the hole I was crawling out of. All I knew was that I was ready for tomorrow, the next step, a challenge. I had learned to be flexible in what life threw at me. I had become more adept at not losing my head (or emotions in most cases) when things didn’t go the way I planned. I had even found things to be joyful over once again. I found myself craving change and progress in an almost addictive kind of way. Though I still wasn’t ready to seek it out on my own.

Fast forward to a few months later and some radical life changing events were going on. I had completely reshaped a semi-destructive relationship I didn’t think I could ever live without, I had friends for the first time, I was jogging regularly, I was more productive, I was sleeping better, I was writing again, and most importantly I was taking time to truly figure out who I was on my own.

The first part of all these changes was rather scary. I wasn’t acting like myself at all, but at the same time I was finding myself all over again. Concerned people in my life were offering all sorts of feedback, advice, and opinions. For the most part, I managed to quiet the outside voices and listen to my own desires. It wasn’t easy and I made some mistakes, but they were mine and I was taking ownership of them.

More importantly, I was taking ownership of the good too. That was the biggest confidence builder for me. Despite the warnings or maybe as a former rebellious child maybe BECAUSE of the warnings I was starting to remember what courage felt like.

It took two sessions to convince my therapist that I wasn’t going off on some sort of manic or just stress induced spree of destructive behaviors masked as change. When she did come around to the solidity of it, she voiced the very thing I had been feeling for days. “It seems like everything in your life is starting to fall exactly into place.” I had felt confident before, but the validation of one of my biggest critics was again a huge push forward. It didn’t validate me, but it made me realize that I was right to trust myself and right to keep pushing.

Each choice and action were building me up out of that hole I had lived in for so long. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt the changes and knew it was only a matter of time before I stopped worrying about perfection. I was having fun and I was happy. I don’t quite know how far out of this hole I am or if I’m out of it altogether, but I feel like as long as I can hold on to this new sense of self, I’ll be just fine.

More Than….

I have to believe that I am more than memories and broken dreams. I was here before they and am still here now – even if I’m fumbling.

I always believed the myths – we were two parts of a larger whole. I don’t know how to enmesh that into my reality. Into me….

If we were whole, than what am I by myself? More than alone – incomplete and definitely incompatible with the world around me. A world I was just beginning to understand.

There is no choice at this point, but I have to believe there will be a solution.