Let Fear Move Through You, So You Can Move Forward

Let Fear Move Through You, So You Can Move Forward

A little while ago I wrote about staying open and practicing mantras. I’ve been reading the book The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to “stay open.” I feel like that’s such an easy thing to say you should do, but how do you actually practice it? How do you stay open, and what exactly are you staying open for? This book does an incredible job of breaking down such a vague, easily misinterpreted idea into actionable steps you can implement at any time. The lesson that has stayed most with me since beginning this book (if you couldn’t already tell), and that I work to practice daily now, is staying open. Not just for the good stuff, but to things like fear as well. It all has to flow for us to be in flow. You must let fear move through you, so you can move forward. 

This kind of staying open requires us to let go. When unwanted thoughts/feelings, such as judgment, jealousy or fear come up, we don’t have to follow them and mindlessly go along for the ride. The second we give attention to these thoughts/feelings, we’re sucked into their grasp and all of our focus goes there. Instead, what if we saw these emotions arise, sat back and let them come and go? Acknowledge them for what they are and let them pass through, without giving them any more energy than that? 

Usually we choose to close when these feelings come up. We separate ourselves and spend all this time in our minds trying to solve all the issues we think we, or others, have. Our intent is to think our way through to the solution, when all we’re actually doing is trapping ourselves with all these negative feelings with nowhere else to go. This is what it means to close, in this context. But what if you didn’t attach to it? Or go inward with it? Just relaxed into it, and kept yourself open for the next feeling to arise? 

When we relax and observe in the face of tension, we’re creating space between us and it, which is one of our greatest superpowers. To recognize that we are not the negative thoughts/feelings, and neither is reality. The moment I realized that my thoughts did not actually reflect an accurate reality, nor did they need to determine what reality was, I was able to begin managing my anxiety. But what really did it for me was when I realized that I could accept and heal from these feelings instead of fighting them, and that the more I did that, the more at peace I’d become. 

For example, I used to get so anxious on Sunday’s because I knew a new week was about to begin and I didn’t know if I was ready for it. I didn’t trust that more good times would come, all I could see was the dread I felt for a Monday morning. I would ruminate on it all day, and on the Sunday’s I didn’t feel that way, I would make sure I did everything I could to keep it that way. My reality focused around my feelings of unease, instead of just moving through the day and taking in each moment for what it was; trusting the ebb and flow. 

We don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Our minds can be a very busy place, but we can learn to quiet them. When fearful or negative feelings come up, relax and observe. Let them pass through. Try not to attach or identify with them; they are not you. They are created out of the very limited construct of reality you’ve used to protect yourself with. But all it’s doing is closing you off and trapping you in the negative. Stay open, and, if you start to find yourself closing with unwanted thoughts/feelings, relax and observe. No need for judgement or analysis, just watch it pass by. Practice this regularly, make it a habit, and watch your inner and outer worlds transform. 

Is this something you practice? What else do you do to stay open?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like: Let The Bad Days Be Bad Days.

Living With And Healing From Health Anxiety

Living With And Healing From Health Anxiety

I remember the first time I realized that something could be really wrong with me and I’d possibly have no idea until it was too late. I was probably about 18 years old and, ironically enough, my Dad was the one to comfort me as this reality set in. We had been discussing something else and all of a sudden the unpredictability and unfairness of life hit me HARD. My Dad understood where I was coming from, but he simply said “You just can’t think like that.” He was right. We’ll drive ourselves mad if that’s all we ever think about, so I barely revisited the idea until about 6 years later; when living with and healing from health anxiety became my everyday experience and endeavor.

If you’ve been following along for a bit now, you’ve heard that my Dad’s cancer felt like it came out of nowhere. I had just moved to San Diego in March, and by May the cancer had been detected. He went through surgery to remove a kidney and we thought that was that. Then in November the cancer came back, and that’s when he was given a year to live. I, not for a single second, saw it coming. I thought he’d just have surgery again (if his not feeling well even had anything to do with cancer) and we’d all be back on our way to normal. 

Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, we watched him go through all the trials of someone with a serious cancer diagnosis. Never did I think that this would be our life, but it was. Here we were and nothing could change it. 

During this year, I travelled between San Diego and Portland fairly often. I felt grateful to have a life elsewhere; one where my Dad was not dying and life was just going on as normal. And as guilty as I felt for those feelings, I think it was all in God’s timing for it to happen that way because it allowed me to be so fully present while I was there, and it made those moments so much more special and meaningful. 

One day, while I was in Portland, I went to a bookstore and picked up When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. If you haven’t heard of or read this book, I would HIGHLY recommend. It’s written by a man who, at 36 years old, and while training to become a neurosurgeon, is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. When he finds out his time is limited, he begins to write this book. 

Feeling particularly close to this part of the life experience at this point, I was fascinated in other’s experiences with it too. Many of us have never helped walk someone to the end of their life, let alone experienced it ourselves. To read the words of someone who knew they were dying; what an eye-opening experience. And what a gift for him to leave us with, a raw look into what makes life meaningful. 

But, as fascinated as I was, reading this book made me EXTREMELY anxious. It was another reminder of how unpredictable and unfair life can be. I had already been struggling with my health anxiety coming back, but this definitely didn’t help. A few months earlier, I’d experienced my first (and only, so far) panic attack. About a month after that, my doctor had me go in for an ultrasound to examine a lump in my breast. I was convinced I had breast cancer and that I’d die soon. Or that I’d have a blood clot and I’d die in my sleep. Even as I type these things I’m somewhat embarrassed and I do understand how ridiculous they might sound to some, but this was my reality. My Dad had been given a year to live, and as far as I was concerned this was just how the world worked now. I needed to be aware of every single little thing happening in my body because my awareness and obsession over it would save me from dying too soon. 

Of course, this drove me mad. I was in ultimate fight or flight mode constantly. Any little pain I felt in my body meant something terrible would happen. I was afraid to be home alone because I was worried I’d die and no one would be there to help me. It was terrifying… but eventually, with intentional healing, I was able to crawl my way out, for the most part. Here’s what helped me live with and heal from health anxiety:

  1. Remember that your thoughts are not your reality. The second I truly recognized that I didn’t have to give attention and power to every single thought I had, my whole world changed. I could disassociate from a panicked spiral and talk/breathe myself through to the other side. 
  2. Ground yourself. When you do start to feel those thoughts speeding up and becoming darker and darker, you’ll start to feel disassociated from reality. You’re so in your head that you’ve lost touch with what’s real and what’s not. All that matters is what’s happening inside, and that’s a quick way to a panic attack. To combat this, think about your 5 senses and name something you are currently experiencing with each one. Right now, I feel my fingers tapping on my keyboard, I can see my screen and the letters appear as I press each key, I can hear cars driving down the road I live on, I can taste the sip of water I just drank, and I can smell the lotion I put on earlier. Focusing your attention on these things helps to redirect and bring you back to the present moment. 
  3. Develop a relationship with your body to build trust. When my health anxiety came on full force, I became inspired to take better care of my body. Here I had felt so disconnected from it that I had no trust for it at all. I felt it would betray me, which accomplished absolutely nothing other than just making the situation worse. So I began being even more intentional about the kinds of foods I put in my body. I began reading ingredients lists and taking supplements. I also started working out more regularly which made me feel more in tune with my body and more connected to it. 
  4. Become your own advocate and be proactive about your health. Go in for your annual check-up’s, and if you do feel that something’s off, get it checked out. Staying on top of these things won’t make it so scary when you do have to go to the doctor or when you do feel something’s off, because you’ll be more in tune with what’s already happening.
  5. Identify what is truly driving your fear. Is it a fear of lack of control? Of being sick? Of disappointing your loved ones, or not seeing them grow? Of not living out your purpose or using your time how you’d always wanted to? Putting your finger on exactly what it is that’s causing the anxiety will help you get to the root of it. Instead of wasting time trying to not feel your feelings, see what’s driving them and counteract it. If you fear a lack of control, do what you can do make peace with that and be intentional about letting things flow more in your life. If it’s of being sick, start treating your body better. If it’s disappointing your loved ones or not seeing them grow, have an open and honest conversation about this with them so that you both can make sure you do special things together while you’re all alive and healthy, and so that you can hopefully understand that in no way are you a cause for disappointment if anything were to happen. Keep that open dialogue going so you never leave what’s in your heart left unsaid.
  6. For me, I was afraid to get sick and die before I’d done something with my life that felt purposeful to me. So I’d say, if you’re in the same boat, try to make peace with the idea that you don’t have control and that someday yes, your life will end. Let this fuel you to use your time wisely and do what gives you purpose. Once I began using my time for things I was passionate about I started to feel like I was fulfilling my purpose and that even if I died tomorrow, at least I would have left my mark in the way I was meant to and that could potentially help someone, even when I’m gone. 
  7. Give yourself time. I know it’s so damn scary, especially in the beginning, to experience severe anxiety in any form. There’s no amount of reason or logic that can pull you out of it. I know it feels like it will never go away, but I promise you, if you are intentional in working through it, it will. And in my experience, the longer you deal with it, the more power it loses. Once you see your worst fears never manifest as you thought they would, you can apply that same information the next time those fears arise. 

While I was in this place in my life, all I wanted was to feel normal again. I couldn’t stand that all I saw was the worst, most negative outcomes in every scenario. I missed believing and trusting in my journey and feeling like I had support through it. Not necessarily support from friends and family, I had lots of that, but more so support from the universe and whatever greater things were at play. I think if we can see the bigger picture: that we are here for a reason and we won’t leave before that’s complete, we can begin to make more peace with the unpredictability of life and that eventually, it will come to an end. We can’t control that part. What we can control is how we use the time we have. Use it to do what you love with who you love; it’s a small but powerful start in the right direction of healing from health anxiety. It’s not about living forever, it’s about feeling good, both mentally and physically, while we’re here. And I think, with that in mind, my Dad’s advice is pretty spot on: at the end of the day, we really just can’t think like that. As often as we possibly can, we must choose to see and trust the good in all things.

I would also highly recommend seeing a therapist if you have the resources to do so. If not, find a trusted confidant you can confide in. I know being able to talk my feelings out has helped (and still helps) get them into the light, so I can truly deal with them. This is an ongoing process and having that support can make such a positive difference. Please keep in mind that I am not a professional and the above suggestions are merely what has helped me in my experience. 

Have you dealt with health anxiety? What did you find helped you most in those times? 

If you enjoyed this post and are looking for more ways to heal from health anxiety, you may also enjoy Meditation, Simplified.

Practicing Affirmations And Staying Open

Practicing Affirmations And Staying Open

When my anxiety came on full force a little over 4 years ago (wild to think I’ve been working through it for this long already) I had zero idea how to deal. After all, I’d never really had to before. I’ll admit, I always had anxious tendencies, but I wouldn’t spend much time thinking about them. My thoughts didn’t rule me- anxious or not. And I’ve come to learn that that’s the main difference. Here I was thinking that I just wasn’t an anxious person prior to my first panic attack, but that’s not true. I was. I just hadn’t experienced real trauma yet, and that’s what sent me off the edge. Since then, a couple things that have helped me tremendously have been practicing affirmations and staying open to welcome the good in my life. 

I remember long before I ever thought of myself as an anxious person, I’d get nervous before a car trip or a plane ride, but as soon as I’d think about it I’d be off thinking about something else. I wasn’t attached to my anxiety and I didn’t pay it much attention. It was not my reality. But when my Dad got his diagnosis of one year to live, my panic attack and loads of generalized anxiety rose to the surface. And all of a sudden, my world was completely flipped.

Instead of a hopeful, abundant world full of love and possibilities, I suddenly lived in a world where I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Someone might try to hurt me, someone might try to hurt someone I love, someone might die. Everything I did revolved around keeping myself and my loved ones as safe as possible. I’d try to challenge myself to get out of this space by traveling or keeping my mind busy with school and work, but nothing really seemed to help; at least not for very long. 

And I’m just now realizing that it’s because I was running from it; running from myself. Those negative thoughts and feelings were such a constant in my mind because it’s all I paid attention to. And because it’s all I paid attention to, it was difficult to truly understand that I could change it without having to fight or try to run from it. The more time I spent trying not to feel anxious, the more and more anxious I became. The more time you spend on the negative stuff, the less time you have to attract more good stuff.

Recently I listened to Oprah’s podcast, an episode where she interviewed Jennifer Lopez (I mean… who doesn’t want all the life advice from JLO, right?). In it, they spoke of affirmations and ones they practice daily. Jennifer listed off her favorites, and the one that really stuck with me was “I am open to all the goodness and abundance the universe has to offer.” Such a simple string of words changed my whole perspective. See, what we give our attention to is where our consciousness goes. If all we see are negatives and all the terrible ways things could go wrong, then that’s what our reality will become. But, if we practice what the affirmation mentioned above says, our world becomes so much more inviting and safe. 

And when we see the world as loving and safe, we allow ourselves to stay open for more good stuff to come in too. Maybe a good job, a good relationship (with ourselves and/or others- I think about this with my meeting Dan all the time), good eating habits, a good book at just the right time. Whatever it is, the more we choose to stay open, even in the face of anxiety, the more we’ll attract the good. All you have to do is stop trying to control it. Flow with it and follow your gut; it’ll point you in the right direction. 

Yes, bad things do happen, but so do good things. It is up to us where we choose to focus our attention and hope toward. We can either calculate every little move around making sure these bad things stay far away (which never works), or we can trust that we are loved and safe and that good things are coming our way. Even if we don’t understand and it seems the complete opposite right now, the world is good and we are loved. Unconditionally and constantly. 

What affirmations do you practice daily? What else do you do to attract the good in your life?

You can listen to the Oprah & Jennifer Lopez podcast I mentioned above here.

If you liked this blog post, you may also like How To Steer Your Mind In The Right Direction.

How To Build Trust In Yourself

How To Build Trust In Yourself

I by no means am an expert in building trust in myself; it’s a forever journey that takes constant reminders and discipline, but I wanted to write a bit about this topic because I only now am realizing the difference it can make when we do. I’d argue it’s one of our biggest road blocks in life. It’s rarely outside interference keeping us from our dreams and ambitions; usually it’s our own internal insecurities and dialogue around them. We search for all the answers outside our selves, assuming others will have the answers. Who are we to have the answer? Well… when you build trust in yourself, you’re actually the perfect person with the perfect answer.

Some examples I’ve begun to notice of how I breed distrust in myself: I’ll look at my daily to-do’s and become anxious that I won’t get all of them done (or know how to do them at all), and instead do everything BUT the things I’m stressing over, which only makes me more stressed about them. When I eat something I normally wouldn’t because I know it won’t make me feel well, but then do it anyway. When I don’t drink enough water. When I search for an answer to something that deep down I already know, or when I look for concrete instructions from someone else on how to accomplish something, knowing full well I can figure it out. 

The list can go on and on, but I think you get the point. When we plan to do something or make a promise to ourselves, and then break that promise, we are engraining within us the idea that we cannot be trusted. We suddenly think that if we can’t even accomplish our daily tasks that we set for ourselves, then we’re probably not going to be able to reach all the other goals we dream about. We tell ourselves that everyone must know better than us, so what they have to say must be more valuable. But that’s not true! And, the more disappointment we feel towards ourselves over eating a damn breadstick or buying a wayyy too expensive online course that claims it will teach you everything you need to know, we’re only digging the hole of distrust deeper. So, because we are perfectly, imperfect humans, and we’re bound to fall short of the wildly high expectations we set for ourselves at some point, here’s a couple things to do instead, that will help you continue building trust in yourself:

  1. Start small. If your to-do list is causing you anxiety, it’s probably too long or you haven’t broken it down into actionable steps yet. Don’t give yourself 10 things to do in a day that actually are more like 50 when broken into steps. When we focus on actionable items and set a reasonable amount of them for ourselves, we can approach the day with more purpose and confidence which will help us get it all done. 
  2. Take it step-by-step. Try not to obsess over the big picture and how this one little action is going to forever impact it. Newsflash: it won’t. It’s just another step within the many steps that will form the big picture later on; find some perspective and comfort in that. Just focus on the next thing you can do that better aligns with where you want to go, and go do that. Then, do it again. Expect to mess up sometimes- it’d be weird if you didn’t and we ALL do. 
  3. Remember that this is your journey, not anyone else’s. Yes, it’s definitely helpful to learn from others and apply those lessons to our paths, but it becomes the exact opposite when we try to duplicate what someone else has done in hopes of getting the exact same results. It’s impossible to duplicate someone else’s journey, and trying to only takes away from the magic of your own.

For me personally in my daily life, these steps take place in many ways. When I look at my to-do list and break it down into more actionable steps and give myself a timeline, I feel more ready to take it on, which means I actually do. When I do inevitably eat dairy or gluten or copious amounts of sugar from time to time, instead of shaming myself and feeling bad about it, I think about my next meal and how much I’ll enjoy and appreciate something more nutritious. When I realize I’ve gone all day with barely any water, I focus on the next actionable step and drink a glass right then and there. Instead of ruminating on the missed opportunities, I focus on what I can do about it now. 

Same thing when I’m feeling insecure or unsure of my next move/purpose in life; instead of always looking to others for advice, I also take the time to look inward and think about my own journey. I take note of how far I’ve come and all that I’ve been able to accomplish. No, I may not be where I dream of being yet, but I am exactly where the me a few years ago dreamed of. Taking stock of your journey and reminding yourself of all you really are capable of, will help diminish insecurities and build trust in the fact that you are capable of so much more than you think.

Trusting yourself feels good, and the more trust we instill in ourselves, the better we feel and the better we do. But this doesn’t mean that at times we might veer off course, and who’s to say that doing so isn’t part of the course? Without the lows, there’d be no highs. We wouldn’t appreciate what it feels like to really trust ourselves to make the right choices, and what it feels like to actually make those choices, if we never did the opposite. Just break it down, take it one step at a time, trust your journey, and more importantly: trust yourself. You have everything you need to get where you’re going.

What other tips do you have for building trust in yourself? Would love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Importance Of Trusting Yourself, And What To Do In Moments Of Self Doubt. 

Finding (And Holding Onto) Contentment

Finding (And Holding Onto) Contentment

When you Google the definition of contentment, you’ll see that it is defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. Sounds like the kind of state we’d all like to be in permanently, right? To always feel good, right where we are, never wondering what it might be like if we were somewhere else. I think this is the goal we all reach for. It’s why we work hard and do the tasks we don’t enjoy. We picture a better, brighter, more enjoyable future if we can just get through “this next thing.” But, the truth is, if we are constantly in this mindset of chasing contentment, we’ll never end up finding it at all. 

I’ve come to learn that we as humans have the capacity to find something wrong with pretty much anything. That little voice in our heads pops up and will start going on and on about how the temperature isn’t quite right and the way you did your hair looks stupid or whatever other nonsense runs through there without proper supervision. It just rambles on through all the negatives which amplifies them and creates a reality you may not feel so great in. Or it rambles about bigger stuff, like how you could have made your relationship turn out differently if only you hadn’t been so “you,” or how you hate your job and really should have done that internship 5 years ago. Whatever it is, it’s a constant chatter in our minds that creates that feeling of discontent. The feeling of unease that makes us feel disconnected from ourselves and our true purpose and leaves us feeling irritable and maybe a little bitter. 

I’d argue that feeling discontent is a natural part of life (because it most definitely is), but there are some things you can do to find some feeling of content during those times as well: 

  1. Remember that life is cyclical and that highs and lows are natural and necessary. If we didn’t experience the full spectrum of these emotions, we’d have nothing to compare them to. How would we know if we were truly happy and content, if we were never unhappy and discontent? When you catch yourself in a low moment, go easy on yourself and remember that it’s okay to be right where you are. You’re human, after all, and it’s healthy to experience a range of emotions.
  2. Don’t let yourself dwell in those emotions though. In fact, don’t let yourself dwell on any emotion. Emotions come and go and we experience them in waves. If we clung on too tightly to any one emotion we’d experience fear and anxiety about any changes at all, and then be sorely disappointed when other emotions inevitably pop up. Nothing is permanent; don’t get too attached.
  3. Remind yourself that you’re not bad for feeling unhappy with where you’re at. It’s healthy to feel a little discontent, so that you always have drive to do better. I also think we learn and grow the most in the low times. They force us to reevaluate ourselves and the lives we lead, which hopefully makes us more human and compassionate in the long run. 
  4. Look around you and point out all the things you’re grateful for in this moment. It’ll help you recenter and realign with what really matters and direct your focus in a direction of greater abundance. 
  5. Adjust your perspective and try to see discontentment as a necessary stepping stone to your next exciting moment. What comes up, must come down, and what goes down, always has the ability to come back up. If we wallow in our down points we may never allow that opportunity to arrive. Remember that the feelings you’re having right now are just that: feelings. They do not determine your reality; not right now and certainly not the future. 

When we feel unhappy or uneasy, we typically do whatever we can to claw our way out and escape the emotions. But what if we sat with it? What if we didn’t judge it? Or judge ourselves for feeling it? As if it makes us less human to feel emotion? Or do we just want to be the least amount of human we possibly can? Why do we feel so much shame around negative feelings? Because it’s uncomfortable to feel them?

If we can work to accept life on life’s terms, I think this all becomes much easier. We no longer work off of specific expectations of how things “should” go or “should” be, and instead understand and accept ourselves and our emotions a little more. This creates space for us to call in our next magical moment and remain open to it when it arrives. With pain comes beauty, and this is no exception. We can choose to focus on the negatives and wish we were somewhere else, or we can appreciate the exact place we’ve found ourselves in; embrace it, learn from it and trust that it’s a stepping stone to the next amazing stage. Contentment is something we must stop chasing, and instead learn to find it within ourselves, no matter the highs or lows. 

A Few Ways To Remember, You’re Never Alone

A Few Ways To Remember, You’re Never Alone

I experience many days where the feeling of loneliness creeps up on me. It’s never a conscious effort to bring it up, it just has a lovely little way of doing it all on it’s own (lol). And it says a lot that it happens without effort, because it shows me where I’m at within myself. What the world reflects back to you is more a reflection of yourself that it is of the world, because it’s how you’re processing in that moment based on your own experiences and biases. But guess what? Just because your perspective may have changed momentarily, doesn’t mean the world has. 

I find it comforting that, even when I am in a headspace of feeling like everything is working against me, everyone is mad at me, I’m alone in all my experiences, yada yada yada… it really is just a reflection of my mind. The world didn’t change- I did. The world doesn’t change- WE do (well, most of the time). And I can say 1000% percent that you are not alone- in this experience, or any other. Here’s a few ways to remember, you’re never alone:

  1. Breathe. Sit somewhere comfortable and consciously slow down for a moment. Quiet the mind. You may not realize it, but, if you’re feeling lonely, your brain is likely in overdrive and headed down a rabbit hole you’d probably rather avoid. I mean, the fact that you’re reading this shows that you’d like to avoid it, so good on you for being here. Anyway, our brains like to think. A LOT. With or without our consent. And we have a choice to put some skin in the game and tell it what direction and at what speed we’d like it to go. So take this opportunity to let it know you’d like to take it down a few notches and go in a more pleasant direction. I personally like to breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2, then breathe out for 8. You always want to make the outward breathing the longest part. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which will let your system know that there is nothing to be worried about. This also stops your mind in it’s tracks and gives you an opportunity to redirect and focus on something soothing- like counting your breaths. 
  2. Meditate. The more I meditate the more and more I become an advocate for it. There are times when I feel I totally suck at it and literally think about stuff the whole way through, but even being aware that I am thinking is a great practice (and is really the whole point- to be aware if your internal dialogue). This helps you learn how to tune in and really sit with yourself when you’re feeling lonely or down. When those feelings creep up, don’t ignore them. Check in with yourself and ask why it is you’re feeling this way. Where do you feel it in your body? Once you’ve answered these questions, meditate. This will quiet the mind and give you a moment of pause and reflection. It’s like hitting the reset button. Seriously, it’s the best. 
  3. Read an inspiring book. Loneliness isn’t just about feeling physically alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel like you’re the only one in the room. If you’re feeling alone in your experiences, it can be incredibly helpful to read about someone else’s experiences. Read a memoir written by someone you admire. Learn about their failures, successes and lessons along the way. Doing this always makes me feel connected to the whole of the human experience. It allows me to get into someone else’s mind, in the privacy of my own home, without having to actually talk to anyone, and really connect with them. That’s what I love about writing; it allows you the opportunity to share a part of yourself you wouldn’t ordinarily share, and that people might not ordinarily ask about. And those who do read it get a special glance into that part of you, leaving both parties feeling more connected. It’s pretty cool actually. 
  4. You might be able to guess what that last point leads me to… Journaling. I have a designated notebook for free-writing and the main time I use it is when I am way too in my head. If I feel lonely or not good enough or whatever, I get my notebook out and literally just start scribbling words. Whatever words are in my head I get them out on paper. And you know what’s funny? Not even a few minutes into writing some less than favorable things about myself, it turns into something really beautiful and inspiring. Sometimes you just have to get all the bullshit out of the way first, before you can access the really good stuff that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. But it’s there, even when you can’t feel it. All the surface stuff that comes before it isn’t you- it’s what you’re subconscious thinks the world thinks of you. And, since most of our subconscious beliefs are formed when we’re children, I think it’s safe to say not all of them are entirely reliable. Just be nice to the inner child within you, let them have their moment to express themselves in writing; your real voice will follow. 
  5. Talk to someone. I know it’s the last thing you probably want to do when you’re feeling lonely, because you feel vulnerable and alone in those emotions, but trust me, you are no where close to alone. Ever. Call up a trusted friend you feel safe with and share how you’re feeling with them. My guess is they’ll be so relieved you called, either because they’re currently feeling the same way and you can both help one another feel connected, or because they recently felt that way and they want to be there to help you out of it too. Human beings are so funny; we act as though we don’t need anyone, when in reality we really do. We are happiest when we feel a connection to our community, whether they be near or far. 
  6. And lastly, go for a walk. Get out into the world. Sometimes, when I’m feeling lonely, I’ll purposely make myself go out for lunch, or chai, or to walk Remi at the park, just so I can feel connected to the world. I spend a lot of time at home these days, which can leave me feeling very in my head. And sometimes, the best thing for you is to go out and be a part of the bustling world around you. It reminds you how big the world is and how small we really are (in a good way). That, even if we feel this way in our minds, it does not mean the rest of the world feels the same. You can still go out and have positive interactions with others and it’ll challenge those thoughts and remind you that you, in fact, are never alone. 

Knowing what you need and when you need it, when you feel alone, can be a challenge. The key is to really listen to your body and let it lead the way. If you’re feeling like curling up and reading a book, do that. If you’re thinking it might be nice to get out and feel the fresh air on your face, then do that. We all need different things at different times. Some of these suggestions may work for you, others may not, and that’s perfectly okay. Just try them out when you get those unwelcome feelings of loneliness, and see what helps.

One other tip I’ll give is to ask yourself whether you’re seeing things through a lens of fear or of faith, when you’re feeling lonely. Asking yourself this crucial question will help remind you that your lonely feelings are not based in reality, they’re based in fear. It’ll also help you move toward a more faith-based mindset, where you can see the world as a more loving place full of opportunity and abundance. 

The most important tip I can give on this subject though, is to always remind yourself that you are never alone. Our brains like to trick us into thinking that feeling this way is bad and that no one else ever does and that we’re lesser for doing so, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is completely natural to feel these feelings. Try to see them as your body communicating to you that it needs something. Maybe you’re a bit disconnected and a little too in your head at the moment, and this is your body’s way of telling you to come back. To look around and take in your beautiful life. You’re not bad for that, it’s actually a good thing. It’s an opportunity to come back and be here. To feel connected to the world around you. Because, when you feel connected, you know you’re never alone.

What do you do to combat feelings of loneliness? Share your tips!

How to Steer Your Mind in the Right Direction

How to Steer Your Mind in the Right Direction

Every morning when I wake I either feel light and happy and ready for the day, or an immediate feeling of dread consumes my body and I fear I won’t be able to accomplish anything (at least not how I hope to) for the day. The mornings that I wake up ready to go are my favorites. They’re the ones where I feel the endless possibilities around me and I show up excited to receive them. The other mornings I don’t like as much, naturally, and I’ve been trying out some new ways to turn them around before they determine more than they should. 

Recently I’ve learned that, from the moment we wake up, we begin to ask ourselves questions- whether it be conscious or not. We may talk ourselves into a complete panic with our inner dialogue without really being aware of it. We might ask ourselves “What are all of the things I need to do today?”, or “How am I going to be able to do that?”, “Will I be able to?”, “What if I look like an idiot?”

I’ve also learned that we can change this dialogue by becoming aware of it and more intentional about the kinds of questions being asked. This can actually begin the night before, as you prepare for the next day ahead. Instead of, “Am I really capable of this?”, maybe try something like “How am I going to show up in a way that I never have before?”, or “How am I going to show up in a way that makes a positive impact in the world?” 

Instead of focusing on one small part of your day and stressing out about whether it will go well or not, you can ask overarching questions that have the power to shape the entirety of your day. Asking yourself a question like that, before falling asleep, sets you up to ask it again in the morning to get you in the same mindset. Yes, stressful things are going on, but how will you show up for them? Will you show up in a way that you’re proud of? That makes you happy? That makes a positive difference?

Fear keeps us from doing great things. It is scary to put ourselves out there and open ourselves up to criticism. But this is the kind of stuff that makes life great. Without risk and vulnerability we are stable. And yes, stable is good, but not when it’s the highlight of your entire life. 

Failures happen when we’re trying to do better. When we’re challenging ourselves and learning new things. We should never stop doing that. Even if it doesn’t always work out the way we’d hoped. By asking yourself more strategic questions to get you into a focused and motivated headspace, you can approach your day head on, knowing full well that there could be failure, but there could also be great success. And even if there is failure, you’re still on the right track.

This week was a bit of a strange one for me. I just couldn’t get into a rhythm. But asking myself these kinds of questions had me feeling like I was still on the right track. The brain is designed specifically to solve problems, and, when left unattended, will go off and start trying to solve all kinds of problems that don’t even exist. Which, in turn, leads to anxiety. But, if we are conscious of our thoughts, we can direct them in the way we wish them to go. Asking questions forces the brain into problem-solving mode, and when we’re in charge we can direct it to solve realities we’re actually dealing with. Just have to point it in the right direction. 

My favorite question to ask when I’m stressed or nervous about something, has been “How can I make this playful?” As kids, we’re so good at creating and playing and using our imagination, without any regard for criticism. As adults, we tend to lose that magic skill, and we begin caring way too much about if we look stupid or not. If we can immerse ourselves in what we are wishing to focus on in a true and meaningful and playful way, we’ll get a lot more out of it and be able to create much more amazingness than had we been worrying about what others would think the whole time. 

This week was a weird week over here. But feelings come and go. And life sends us through cycles of highs and lows and it’s or job to know what we need and when we need it and trust that, when we’re in the low moments, that better vibes are just around the corner. And in the meantime, we can ask ourselves those questions that point us in the right direction. And also go on a walk with our dog and a seltzer. Solves pretty much anything if you ask me. 🙂 

What Makes You Feel More Like You?

What Makes You Feel More Like You?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Instagram asking what made you feel more like you. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I’d been feeling super off and a little down. I was struggling to find inspiration, motivation and confidence and I couldn’t figure out why that was, or how to get it back. I felt helpless to the idea that these feelings would come and go as they pleased, without much of my own say in the matter. 

BUT. What I realized last week in my big, BIG epiphany, was that I DO have a say in the matter. I do get to decide if I feel confident and inspired and motivated. Sure, I may not feel it intrinsically at times, but we do have the power to create it for ourselves. And, the more we do this, the easier it is to get into the swing of it again and again and again. It’s amazing really. How much power we truly have. It’s just hard to see it when you’re struggling to get out from under that little dark cloud that won’t stop following you around. 

What’s really funny about this epiphany that I had though, is that I knew the answer to my question all along. I already knew how to get myself out of a funk. In fact, it’s literally the entire reason I started this blog in the first place. And yet, I forgot. I forgot what made me feel like me. What inspired and motivated me and made me feel unstoppable. 

And what is it for me, you might ask, that makes me feel more like me? It’s giving myself some extra time to do my hair and makeup, and dressing myself up a bit. That’s it. Super simple. A little extra TLC to make me feel like my best self before the day begins. And yet, when I’m not in the best mood, it’s the last thing I want to do. Isn’t it funny how the things that will be best for us seem to always be the things we want to do the least? Salads over pizzas, water over pretty much any other beverage, working out over couch potatoing… (that’s right, I made it a verb). 

Here I am, starting a blog to encourage women to do what they need to do to be and feel like their best selves, based on my own personal experiences, and even I am in need of the reminder as well. A reminder that we deserve love. ESPECIALLY from ourselves. And maybe that doesn’t mean putting makeup on everyday. Maybe it’s actually quite the opposite. Maybe it’s as simple as taking your vitamins or remembering to moisturize.

When my Dad was sick, I travelled home to Portland to be with him and my family for the months leading up to his death. I felt so all over the place internally most days that I just wanted to crawl right out of my skin. But in acknowledging that my skin was the one place I will inhabit for the rest of my life, I instead decided to make it a more pleasant place to be. Ergo, my newborn obsession with makeup and hair tricks. 

After my Dad passed, I spent the entire next year committed to doing one nice thing for myself a day. Something that healed me, whether it be physical or mental. I started acupuncture and therapy weekly. I began to get my nails done and do face masks religiously. I honestly had never really found the benefit in any of these things prior, but I knew it’s what I needed. 

I may no longer rely on these things as heavily anymore, but their benefits have never dwindled. And I can see that more clearly today than ever before. Here I was thinking I was healed and that these things were more supplemental  for me than anything. But, in reality, I still need them more than ever. I will never stop needing them. 

Maybe those needs will change, as I do, but what I must remember is that making myself feel inspired and confident and loved are always a top priority. If I am going to inspire other women to unapologetically show themselves love way more often than society has ever taught us to, then I have to do the same. I have to truly live it. You can try your hardest to be self-sufficient and act as though you don’t need any of it, but the truth is, we all do. We all have the basic need of feeling loved and held. And providing this feeling, on our own, for ourselves, is the most healing and inspiring thing we’ll ever do. 

So now I pose this question to you: what makes you feel more like, well… you?

Let The Bad Days, Be Bad Days

Let The Bad Days, Be Bad Days

This past Sunday was a weird day. I wouldn’t say it was bad necessarily, just a little off. It seemed like everything that I tried to do just didn’t go as planned. Nothing major, but when the small inconveniences build up it can still get a little overwhelming. As I was stumbling my way through running errands that evening (since I was literally making everything difficult for myself) I remembered something I’d been told many times before: Life isn’t meant to be easy.

I feel like that’s one of those cliche’s you hear all the time, but never really give any real thought to. Or at least I hadn’t. I’d hear someone say it or read it somewhere and nod vigorously in total, unwavering agreement. Yet, when it really came to applying it in my everyday reality, I’d always forget about it.

But this Sunday was different. Because while I was having an off day, I suddenly remembered this simple, incredibly helpful, fact. For most of my life I had it easy (in most ways, I still do). But once my Dad became sick I kind of had to have a come to Jesus moment with the fact that being alive meant things like this would happen too. And that it was pretty much completely out of my control. What a freaking thing to have to come to terms with in such a short amount of time. In all honesty, I think I am just now getting around to realizing what it means to truly understand and accept it.

My response to it at first was to try with all my might to control it. Or at least predict it. I’d worry endlessly about someone else I loved, or myself, becoming ill, getting hurt, or dying. When someone would refer to the future with such certainty, as I would have in the past, it suddenly didn’t feel right. How could you say so confidently that “there’s always next year?” I’d almost feel that I was jinxing it by saying something like that, so I kept my mouth shut and just prayed for the best. 

Brené Brown says that joy is one of the most vulnerable things you can feel. And now I really understand that one too. I used to feel joy without a doubt in my mind. Now I feel it and immediately follow up with the fact that it won’t last forever. It’s exhausting, always stunting your joy before you’ve even really had a chance to feel it. 

All of this need for control totally took away my ability to just feel happy and relax. Attempting to control everything that happens to you and your loved ones and everyone else in the world, and wanting everything to be perfect and for everyone to feel safe and loved, is a lot to place on your shoulders. Not only is it a lot, it’s setting yourself up for complete and utter failure. And massive disappointment. 

This past Sunday, when I remembered that life is not meant to be easy, it finally sunk in that I do not have control. And that it’s actually really beneficial to find acceptance with that. It doesn’t mean you accept the bad things that happen, which is what I think I’d thought it meant all this time. It means that you have to accept that regardless of how hard you try to keep it from being so, bad things will happen. To you, to your loved ones, to the world. Bad things happen everyday. But so do good things. A LOT of good things. And trying to predict and avoid any and all possible things that could go wrong, tear away any opportunity you might have to experience everything that could go right. Plus it distracts and discourages us from doing good in areas we may be able to actually help change, too.

Take it from me, someone who has tried to control everything and has constantly “waited for the other shoe to drop,” life changes for the better when we release our attempts to control things that are already, and unchangeably, completely outside of our control. Bad things can, do and will happen. There’s no way around it. But our reaction to it and how we choose to live our lives in spite of it, is what really helps us through. When we acknowledge that life is actually meant to be a struggle, we won’t be blindsided when shit hits the fan. AND, when shit is not hitting the fan, we also give ourselves permission to fully immerse ourselves in and feel those moments of joy. We realize that no, those moments won’t last forever, but that it’s a privilege to have them at all. When we stop trying to make everything perfect, we can see it for the perfect that it already is. And when we see its perfection we can trust it more fully and live in a way that makes us feel truly alive. Appreciating every little moment, knowing nothing lasts forever. 

You Are Loved. You are You. You Are Perfect.

You Are Loved. You are You. You Are Perfect.

I’ve been reading the book, Untamed by Glennon Doyle. If you’ve read it, or are familiar with it, then you know it’s a story about a woman who colors within the lines, or tries her darnedest, for a majority of her life. Then, something magical happens. She decides to be unapologetically herself and unapologetically happy for it. Naturally, this has me thinking a lot about my currently over-apologetic self and how I came to be this way.

You see, society conditions us (men and women, but for these attributes I’m speaking specifically to women) to be seen and not heard. To be polite and pleasant and always put others before ourselves. We pride ourselves and base our entire worth as a woman on how helpful we are, or at least how helpful others perceive us to be. We feel guilt the moment we share an opinion that might come off as “too strong”, or when we want to do something that might disrupt our own, and others’, comfortable way of living. If we speak too loud, hurt someone’s feelings, do something for ourselves over doing something for someone else, we are pushed into a shame storm that lasts until we can finally redeem ourselves and someone by the grace of God comes along and tells us just how “good” we actually are. That feeling of validation for being someone society wants us to be, is exactly what keeps the vicious cycle going. 

The idea of jumping off this wild carousel ride feels intimidating, almost impossible. As humans, we so badly want to be “liked.” We want others to think we are good. And we’ll do anything to get that stamp of approval. Of course, we don’t want to be running around like a bunch of assholes, but to what extent is making others happy causing us to lose ourselves? If we aren’t careful we might just end up as shells of humans with pretty hair, pretty smiles, and our entire existences spent searching for the next validating moment that tells us that we, indeed, have succeeded as the figure of a woman society so happily constructed for us. 

I find myself lately asking for validation way more than I’m comfortable with. Way more than I think many of us would feel comfortable with. Confirmation to ensure that I’m not being too much, but also reassurance that I am still enough. A tight rope I’ve walked my whole life, that I have only brought myself to question a handful of times. I have put the responsibility of making sure others feel comfortable, that others feel happy, before myself. I will feel uncomfortable, I will feel unhappy. So long as others around me don’t. So long as they think I’m nice and pretty and pleasant.

But within those lines is not where great things happen. Life, real life, cannot happen there. There, we do all the things we think we’re supposed to do. The things we think we “should” do. And then a whole life passes and you look back and realize you never really did anything you actually wanted. You never really lived your life for you. 

We’re told that we can’t be contradictory or controversial. Everyone is much more comfortable with us being calculated, careful. But we can make mistakes and still be good. We can have strong opinions and stick by them even when it makes others uncomfortable. We can exist in our fullness without being sorry for it. What we cannot do is survive in a life where every little action and reaction is given all of our energy to think through it first in fear of how it’ll be perceived. Or where we would rather live with caution, never putting ourselves out there, in fear of rejection. 

Our existence is not purposeful in making others feel comfortable. Our existence becomes powerful when we give others permission to live their lives fully, by living ours fully too. I can think back to many times when society has tried to keep me locked in a perfectly finished little box. It still does. And I still feel the pressure of those walls. Every time I think of myself as lesser I am reminded that they are still there. But there’s a way out of that box. It’s not locked. We can choose to challenge those thoughts and feelings and decide that we are both not too much and more than enough, all on our very own. 

We are all capable of amazing things. No favors are done by shrinking into “should.” It is a great disservice, to yourself and to the world, to be anything but you. A you that lives life how they want, on their terms. A you that loves themselves, unconditionally and unapologetically. We must forgive all the apologies from our past, people-pleasing selves, and trust ourselves enough to make way for the new, shiny, unapologetic being that’s been here inside us all along. Just waiting to break free.

She is loved. She is you. She is perfect.

<3,

Sarah