I woke up this morning really not feeling good mentally and that feeling continued to follow me throughout the day, weighing heavily on my chest. There is only one thought that I can use to try and describe what I am feeling:
This is not who I want to be, this is not the life I want to be living.
I think this is the ugly truth at the centre of everything I have gone through and continue to journey through. For the longest time, I either punished myself for not easily fitting into the expectations society has set for me or I numbed myself to the point that I could make myself fit.
The truth makes me want to be sick because I put so much of my time, energy, and resources towards building this “house of cards” life and by admitting the truth I am now accountable to change it; to take new and unfamiliar steps towards the life I want to live.
Let me tell you: new and unfamiliar is fucking terrifying. Now the house of cards is crumbling and I am left exposed. Exposed to judgment, pain, and failure. Living in a house of cards may not have been the most stable, but it felt safe.
But, I know that living like this is simply unsustainable and I am nearing my breaking point. I am tired of feeling weak and worn down all the time. I hate being apologetic and afraid of everything and everyone. I want more for myself. I want to be better for myself, I need to be better for myself, my life and for those around me, I don’t even know who I want to be or what I want to do, but I do not want this anymore.
So what do I do with this Tuesday morning epiphany?
They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, but I would say that also applies to changing your life.
By admitting to myself and to you that what I am currently doing no longer brings me joy, I am holding myself accountable, too. I am identifying the life I do not want to live anymore and therefore many of the things that are going wrong that prevent me from being happy. Now it’s up to me to figure out what does feel right and what will bring me joy again.
Thankfully, I don’t have to figure it out alone – I have a support system of friends, and family to navigate this journey with. I have people who challenge me daily to live my best life and who help remind me to appreciate the simpler things in life. Happiness and fulfillment do not happen in a vacuum, it takes a village to thrive in this world.
I may not be who I want to be right now, but this is me taking my first step closer. It is so much easier to avoid asking ourselves in the first place: is this the life I want to live? It is so much easier to let the expectations and standards of others and society drive our choices. We can even take those choices and build lives that look beautiful and successful. But houses of cards are hollow and a foundation of sand is unstable. Asking ourselves the hard questions is not easy, it is fucking courageous. Vulnerability and unfamiliarity are fucking terrifying, but they are god damn necessary if we want to live a life of fulfillment and happiness.
So I challenge you to be fucking courageous and ask yourself this one simple question: is this who you want to be?
At some point in your life you will feel like every choice you’ve made has lead you to the wrong path. You will question yourself whether you really know what you want, where you want to go, who you want to be with. You will force yourself to close your eyes when no one’s around you and allow yourself to finally let your tears flow.
You will have moments when your mind will be clouded by so much confusion. You will have days when you will feel stuck and paralysed and be afraid of the unknown. Your passions will fade and your heart will be filled with so much resentment. You will have days when you will just want to go through the motions, waiting for something to happen, waiting for everything around you to change.
But there comes a time, too, when you will realize that nothing in life stays the same.
You will realize that there’s always an end in every darkness. There’s always a hope despite your brokenness. And there’s always a tomorrow to feel excited about regardless of how terrible your day has been.
You will realize that you can always pick yourself up after you stumbled and fell to your knees. You can choose to look at the sky, after all the times that you kept your head down, and see how beautiful the world is, how beautiful life is. You can smile no matter how heavy your heart feels. You can go outside, take a walk, breathe the fresh air, and let go of everything that’s dragging you down.
You can begin from scratch all over again. You can forget all the people who brought suffering in your life. You can distance yourself away from any kind of environment that doesn’t inspire you. You can go somewhere new, somewhere you know you will be safe and secured, somewhere that no one knows your name.
You are allowed to decide what kind of story you want to tell to people, what kind of nickname they should give to you, and what version of yourself that you want to show to them. This is your life and you get to choose whether you want to continue feeling miserable in one place, or leave and start living the kind of life that you envision for yourself.
Forget about the fears that are preventing you from making a big move. Forget about what other people have to say. Forget about the what ifs that are haunting you on the inside.
You have to learn how to take risks, how to be brave, how to be independent, how to make a decision for your own good. You have to know how to fail, how to be broken, how to win, how to open your heart and love someone new. You have to believe that there’s a wonderful life that’s waiting for you out there and all you need to do is take a huge leap and trust.
You need to forgive yourself and allow yourself to heal. You still have more incredible memories to make. You still have new trustworthy people to meet. You still have plenty of days to laugh, to remember, to cherish, to keep in your mind forever. You are still young and you have so much more room to grow and so much more opportunities ahead of you.
There’s nothing that you can do about the past anymore. You only have today to prepare for a brighter, bigger, and better future.
You have today to push yourself to achieve your fullest potential. And you have today to prove to yourself that it is never too late to build a new life that you have always been dreaming of.
Have you ever wondered what it means to really start embracing your imperfection and how this can change the quality of your life?
I know nowadays there’s more pressure than ever before to get things right in every part of our lives- to be perfect. Gadgets, apps, and advice on how to be your very best all the time surround us. But that’s such an illusion. No one can be perfect; it just isn’t humanly possible.
To banish imperfection is to destroy expression, to check exertion, to paralyse vitality.
John Ruskin,the stones of venice
Perfectionists carry a LOT of emotional baggage from trying to look as though their entire world is 110% wonderful all the time. They’re at a higher risk of depression and anxiety, and hardly ever content with what they have.
When I choose to embrace the messy, flawed parts of my life and myself, I become happier and way less stressed. Maybe my messy is way messier than yours?
Could I be more flawed than most?
Well, sure, but who cares?
Not me. Not anymore!
I had reached a stage where I could fake nothing. I knew myself, all truths uncovered, every myth busted. It was time to accept myself as I was.
Accepting my imperfection means failure shrinks back down to being just another aspect of life. It’s like I have the power now – not failure. Failure and me are working really hard to become friends!
Perfectionists tend to take failure personally. It becomes a catastrophe and something that defines you sense of self. But accepting that to make mistakes is human means you see failure as an opportunity to learn, make the necessary changes, and move on. And woot, woot!! Wow, is that a way more beautiful way to live!
A good thing about our brain is that it willingly adopts any changes that we bring about in our thinking patterns.
Now that I am more comfortable with imperfection, I find I am not so quick to criticize and judge others. And that makes me a much better friend, daughter and sister. I am much less likely to blow my fuse at trivial things, and I find I cut people more slack. Overall, I can say my relationships are calmer and more rewarding.
As I came to accept my flaws and quirks (of which there are many), I am less likely to be hard on myself when I make a mistake. Perfectionists are usually their own harshest critics, and my self-esteem was fragile and easily crushed.
Acknowledgment of my inability to be anything but me means I am less likely to feel guilty or ashamed when I make a mistake or don’t reach my goals as soon as I might have liked.
Imperfection is the main thing of being a human. It’s how we learn and progress that can connect us. I have no doubt that gracefully accepting the ebbs and flows of life has made happier, mylife that much more enjoyable.
The negative, irrational voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to replace it. Use logic as a weapon. Address each thought individually as it occurs.
If you believe an event won’t be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, “You might be right, but it’ll be better than just sitting here another night.” You may soon see the negative isn’t always realistic.
If depressive symptoms disrupt your daily routine, setting a gentle schedule may help you feel in control. But these plans don’t have to map out an entire day.
Your schedule could focus on the time before work or right before bed. Perhaps it’s only for the weekends. Focus on creating a loose, but structured, routine that can help you keep your daily pace going.
Mother Nature can have a powerful influence on depression. Research suggests people who spend time in nature have improved mental health.
Exposure to sunlight may offer some of the same benefits. It can increase your serotonin levels, which can provide a temporary mood boost.
Consider taking a walk at lunch among the trees or spending some time in your local park. Or plan a weekend hike. These activities can help you reconnect with nature and soak in some rays at the same time.
You may also find it helpful to speak to a professional about what you’re going through. A general practitioner may be able to refer you to a therapist or other specialist.
They can assess your symptoms and help develop a clinical treatment plan tailored to your needs. This may include traditional options, such as medication and therapy, or alternative measures, such as acupuncture.
Finding the right treatment for you may take some time, so be open with your provider about what is and isn’t working. Your provider will work with you to find the best option.
We all know the road to greater life satisfaction has more to do with how we feel on the inside than with any external riches we may gather, whether they be material possessions, good looks or accomplishments.
Engaging Your Inner Life
We all know that we should meditate, connect with our deeper self and learn to be content with life as it is right now, rather than waiting for some imagined future where everything will be wonderful. However, many who turn their attention inward don’t like what they find: stress, inner criticism or maybe just a blank space that isn’t all that engaging.
My goal is always to make my suggestions simple, doable and effective regardless of what might be going on outside of life, where so much of what happens is beyond our control. At least with our inner world, we have some ability to temper and modulate our responses.
1. Managing stress: your inner tachometer
Getting stress levels under control is the first priority for so many of us. My sense, in working with so many clients with anxiety or depression, is that stress levels are chronically high, and we are not always aware of it. If you are in this boat, I suggest imagining an inner tachometer – and for those who don’t drive a car with a standard transmission, this means the device measures the RPM of the engine.
It idles in the green zone, works hard in the orange zone and can do damage in the red zone.
Try it now: where is your inner tachometer? Those who suffer from chronic stress spend too much time in the red zone. If you tend to take on too much and are always too busy, try to assess decisions about whether or not to add something more to your plate by the state of your inner tachometer. If it’s pushing toward red, do something to bring it down.
Say no to the extra commitment, or to packing your appointments so close together you are always rushing. An engine that stays in the green zone lasts longer and our bodies are like that engine. We can’t always control the RPM, but this simple exercise in awareness can shift the tendency to rev on the red line too often.
2. befriending yourself: taming the inner critic
The next thing many people find when they look inside, once they have taken the RPMs down a notch, is a nasty, critical voice that seems to find just the right thing to say to undermine confidence and stall forward momentum. Everyone has a version of this, an inner authority figure that combines parental, teacher and employer’s voices to tell us all the ways we are not measuring up.
DON’T take it seriously!
For many, it is a revelation when I tell them this voice doesn’t speak the truth. It is an artefact of childhood, and the more challenging our early years were, the harsher this voice will be.
A good test: how would you feel if a friend spoke to you in this tone of voice? You would rightfully be insulted and push back. Do the same with your inner critic. Since our brains are wired to focus more on the negative, you need to counter this tendency with something positive.
Recruit an inner cheerleader to debate with the critic. Imagine what your best friends and biggest fans would say in response. Engage in an inner debate, don’t just agree with your critic, and you will begin to loosen its hold.
Recruit the critic. Ask yourself what the purpose of this inner critic might be. Inner reflection shows they tend to be afraid for us, want us to succeed, and want us to be motivated. You could start an inner dialogue with the critic and request that it find a better way to talk to you. As you would with a child, tell it to ask nicely for what it wants. Find a way to change its tune so it becomes more of an ally.
Give it a name, learn its theme song, and listen only when the music sounds pleasing. Otherwise, change the channel, turn your attention elsewhere.
One of the most accessible ways to develop a rich inner life is to engage with your dreams. We all dream of a feature film’s worth of dreams every night, although only a fraction is ever recalled. But if you pay attention to your dreams, write them down and ponder them, they become easier to recall and begin to speak to you directly from your deepest self.
Many people tell me they don’t recall their dreams, or if they do, they can’t make sense of them. One way to understand dreams is as picture-metaphors of whatever feelings are currently most important. Dreams are not meant to be understood as a linear story, but more as an image of your inner life.
Spending time with the felt sense of the images in your dreams, drawing pictures of them, telling others about them and carrying them with you like an essential question will often open up the dream and bring you critical information from your authentic inner self. In short, do not ignore your dreams! Instead of trying to figure them out, let them come alive inside you, and ponder them as you would a poem or piece of art.
To sum up, we’ve covered three simple ways to master the art of engaging with your inner life. The first two suggestions are aimed at making it more attractive to look inside — since stress and the inner critic are two of the main reasons many of us prefer not to look inward.
The third suggestion, to listen to your dreams, has the potential to open up a richly imaginative world that is a huge untapped resource in your journey toward your deeper self. Dreams regulate our emotions, point to what matters most, and can be our best guide on our life’s journey. They can also be funny, creative and compelling, all the more reason to go play inside.
Personal growth and education, in general, are often focused on changing yourself. The implied assumption is that your natural being is not good enough and it needs to be forced into something else to create happiness and success. In order to see improvements and growth, we often think we need to be hard on ourselves.
What is Personal Growth?
We think that we need to be the taskmasters of our own lives, consistently pushing and encouraging ourselves to work harder, be better, and push deeper.
I will admit that being a good taskmaster has been quite useful in my life, however, there are times when the focus on effort and pushing through fails. Often it can even be counterproductive altogether.
After experiencing burnout and the negative effects of pushing myself too hard, I’ve been fascinated with finding a different way to approach personal growth and learning. Here are five approaches I have found to help release the pressure of forced action and to create inspired action instead.
1. Be Curious
Curiosity is the antidote to stress. When you find yourself in a situation where you would normally push yourself to take action, be curious about what is going on for you.
Why are you holding back? Why is this an area that you want to change?
Why are you procrastinating on something?
These questions should never feel like an interrogation, but instead should be asked with openness and a sense of exploration. When we resist change, there is almost always something lurking beneath the surface. Embracing curiosity can help you to better understand yourself, which will help you to move forward more fluidly.
2. remove obstacles
Instead of beating yourself and barrelling through obstacles, think about how you can remove obstacles altogether. For example, I was recently struggling to make progress on a bunch of different goals in my life.
I would push through my list each day to check off what I had committed myself to doing. But I was completely exhausted. I could have kept pushing forward, but I realized that finding time was actually becoming an obstacle for me. I decided to take off some of the items on my list.
Yes, perhaps I wasn’t as productive as I could possibly be, but with the obstacle of trying to fit everything into one day gone, I was able to smoothly focus on the remaining work.
3. embrace flow
Flow is an experience of deep concentration during an activity. But flow can also be a feeling of smoothly transitioning from one activity to another. When you experience flow, you don’t have to pressure yourself to do anything. Instead, you move from a place of inspiration. Flow can’t be forced, but it can be embraced.
When you start to feel a sense of flow, instead of following your initial plan to the letter, let yourself be flexible and follow where your inspiration leads you.
4. Celebrate Progress
When we are focused on changing ourselves, nothing ever feels like enough. You might have made major strides in one area of your life, but if your focus is on the bigger transformation, you might not take the time to recognize how far you have come.
When thinking about my work, I used to completely write off the positive things I did and fixate on the negative areas that weren’t where I wanted them to be yet. But once I started to actively recognize my successes every day, I built significantly more confidence and excitement. These two feelings are much more motivating than the feeling of not being good enough.
5. Connect Back to Your Why
If you find you are forcing yourself to do something, you may have forgotten about why you wanted to do it in the first place. Or sometimes you find that your why is not strong enough, and that is part of why you’re resisting action.
Daily actions can feel mundane and futile. A daily writing session might feel unimportant and like it doesn’t really matter in the bigger scheme of things. But if you can connect that daily writing session to the bigger vision of writing a book, or an even bigger vision of changing someone’s life through your words, you will start to feel more motivated.
If you find yourself saying “I should” do something or “I have to” do something, I encourage you to take a pause. Before you use those mandates to force yourself into action, try one of these approaches instead.
Guilting yourself into action can only get you so far. But tapping into your own internal motivation can help you sustain action and create even more transformational change in your life.
One of the greatest human needs is the need to be SEEN, not for who we pretend to be, but for who we truly are underneath it all.
WITH LOVE ELLE
Today I’m thinking about how most of the time we pass by one another without looking into each other’s eyes and recognizing who we truly are.
We walk around pretending the people around us aren’t people. And we pass by one another as if none of us actually exist.
What has happened to us?
The Need to Be Seen and Why It Matters.
Believe it or not, we all want to be SEEN. I guess that’s one of the reasons why social media is so popular. But the kind of Seeing we want to experience has nothing to do with this whole social media charade where life is presented as if it were a reality TV show and all of us are superstars.
No. That isn’t it.
We want to be SEEN. But SEEN for who we truly are, not for who we pretend to be.
We want people to look deep into our Core and recognize the part of us that is Sacred and Eternal. Because let’s be honest, deep down inside, you and I know that most of us are tired of pretending to be something we are not.
We want the whole world to recognize in us the part of us that is Unlimited, Eternal, and Divine. And treat us as if that’s all there is to us – Beauty, Innocence, Kindness, Purity, Light, Love, and Truth.
People want to be SEEN…
They want the whole world to look deep within their Being and discover the Greatness of who they truly are.
Who’s going to quench this thirst of ours of being SEEN?
PATIENCE. LOVE. And COURAGE.
It takes time, patience, and a great deal of LOVE andcompassion to know what human beings are truly all about; It takes courage and it takes love. And I guess that’s one of the reasons why people feel more alone and disconnected than ever.
Cuz ‘none of us ‘have the time’ to KNOW one another.
We’re all ‘so busy’ with being busy and becoming ‘the best of the best’ that we have no time left to open our hearts and feel the invisible love and connection that links us all together.
On the surface, we might all look very different from one another, but at the core level, we are all the same. At the core level, we are all ONE,connected with one another in a very deep and powerful way. At the core level, we are essentially the same, all members of one human race. There is no separation except the separation we create in our minds because of our attachment to fear.
WITH LOVE ELLE
WE ARE NOT MACHINES.
Yes. We have tons of virtual friends. And we exchange likes, shares, and so many great comments with all of them. But what does that have to do with anything?
We are not machines.
We are human beings who long for deep, meaningful, and loving connections; Human Beings who long for the world to stop for a moment and realize that we exist…
Can you just breathe and look around you?
I know you are busy. And I know you have a trillion things to do. But can you stop for a moment?
Can you just breathe and look around you? Can you notice where you are going and how fast life is passing you by?
All that you deem important in life always seems to be Out there, never Right Here; never Where you are, never Who you are, and never with Who you are.
Have you ever wondered why? Or are you too busy for that as well?
Yes, the world is in a hurry. And there are a trillion things you need to do. But none of them are more important than getting to know the Real You. None of them are more important than learning to SEE yourself as you would want the world to SEE you.
You are your most valuable possession. The most precious gift you have is YOU.
Do not let one day pass you by without paying attention to your Self and moving closer to your Truth.
Let the world do what the world wants to do. And you do You. Because in the end, that’s all that truly matters.
Be true to yourself. Walk your path with integrity. And trust that in doing so, life will bless you with people and experiences that will be true to you as well.
Mental strength or mental toughness means that you are able to manage and regulate your emotions and behaviors. In turn allowing you to overcome doubt, fear, failure, concerns, and circumstances which could prevent you from succeeding or finding happiness.
Mental strength is important because it allows us to continue when things get tough. It allows us to accept what is, move on quickly, and be content. It’s also a building block for self-discipline.
I definitely believe mental strength is key to success. People at the top (whether that be financially, physically, in business, etc.) all went through failures, stress, fatigue, and other life battles.
The difference between those who make it and those who tried but gave up? Mental strength.
You can build your mental strength by being mindful, being aware, thinking positively, and practicing good habits.
Here are a few suggestions to build your mental strength:
Bite your tongue
In the past, if someone made me angry I would typically respond back with hostility and negative energy. That energy would often stay with me for awhile as I went about my day.
Now I try my best to respond neutrally or with silence. When you do this, you also prevent yourself from saying anything you may regret.
The more you practice biting your tongue (or not hitting your car horn) the less people have control over you.
It’s actually quite satisfying when people honk at you aggressively for whatever reason while you sit there without a care.
Work through your struggles
Life will inevitably throw you curve balls…big or small we all struggle. Sometimes it’s easier to try to avoid or mask the emotions that come with them.
On the other hand, some people handle difficulties by reacting quickly.
For example, someone may yell at their significant other when a disagreement comes up. One might go spend hundreds on “retail therapy” after they got laid off. Or someone may drink the night away after a bad day.
None of these help to resolve the situation or make you mentally strong.
Instead, evaluate and work through all of your hardships. Calmly speak to your significant other, make a plan and choose to be responsible, practice yoga or meditation to work through stress.
When you face and overcome hardships, you can look back and know you pushed through it, you survived, and you did so with dignity and grace.
By handling your problems in this manner, you will realize that you can get through everything. They make you stronger and you can’t be broken!
Practice gratitude daily
Every morning or evening write down 3 things you are grateful for.
If you’re feeling negative, start writing down a gratitude list and feel yourself relieved of those emotions. Making a mindset shift to focus on the positives instead is incredibly powerful.
Gratitude turns what we have into enough and makes us more present.
Push through discomfort
In other words, step out of your comfort zone.
To do this you have to look for a larger meaning.
Don’t feel like working out? Think about why you wanted to or should work out. Let that purpose push you to do what you don’t feel like doing.
If you don’t go workout, you’re losing the battle and weakening your self-discipline at the same time.
If you do go workout, you benefit from moving your body and YOU controlled the situation. You told your brain who’s boss and didn’t give in to an easier activity (watching tv for example).
It may not seem huge in the moment, but each time you don’t do something you said you would or should be doing, you’re worsening your bad habits.
This applies to many things.
Getting a big project done even though you’re afraid of failure.
Adding up all your debt even though it makes you anxious.
Tidying up your house even though you’re sleepy.
You’re going to feel uncomfortable, but getting past that makes you that much stronger.
Stop comparing yourself to others
You are YOU for a reason. Someone will always be better looking, richer, and happier…or at least appear that way. Make the most of what you have and who you are.
If you want to make a change, then do it. But do it for you and in your own way.
Focusing on others’ success will only hold you back.
This may mean you should step back from social media for a bit. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you focus solely on you and your life.
Celebrate the little things
Get excited about small wins in your life. If you take a step back and just observe, life is actually quite amazing.
It’s OK to feel proud and give yourself credit for all the tiny things you accomplish. People tend to look at how far they have left to go rather than looking at all they have already done.
Life is also way more fun when you get excited for those small things that bring you joy.
Let life be
Life is simple. Of course bad things happen that are really tough to go through, but we tend to overcomplicate every single thing.
If you can’t control something, let it be.
If something isn’t going according to plan, laugh about it and adjust what you need to.
All you can do is control how you think and react to everything in life.
Live your life how you want to
No matter what you do someone won’t be happy about it. Those people may be your family, your friends, or strangers on the internet, but at the end of the day this is YOUR life.
If you are happy, not hurting anyone, or causing any damage, then do you.
Learn to stand up for what you believe in and for yourself.
Mental strength takes time to build. However, the more your practice mental strength building exercises, the easier it gets.
There are a lot of ways to increase your mental strength, the important part is that you are aware of and can recognize the things you may say or do that decrease your mental toughness. Over time you will learn and develop the habit to manage your weaknesses!