The Fundamentals of Personal Growth: Trust

When I finished my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I had a literary agent reach out to me and request a full manuscript of my novel. The manuscript wasn’t ready at the time, so I kept working on it, rereading, rethinking, and revising, until I had a solid, workable draft to send. I sent it to her a few weeks ago, and last week, she let me know that she wouldn’t be interested in representing it.

Of course, I was disappointed. It felt like a squandered opportunity. Like maybe I should have worked harder before I sent the manuscript because she reached out to me, after all, and maybe I had disappointed her. Maybe I missed a big shot. Maybe I missed my only shot.

Logically, I knew that wasn’t true, but still, I struggled for a little while with feeling like a failure. Rejection is a part of being a writer, and I will face it 100+ more times if I take the process of getting published seriously, but that opportunity felt different, and I let myself wallow a little bit. Eventually, I realized, that it wasn’t just the rejection that hurt, but the missed opportunity to accomplish something. I told my husband, as he was trying to comfort me, that what truly felt so bad was that I wanted validation through my accomplishments.

I started a new job last month, and it’s different from any other job I’ve had in that it isn’t focused on tasks. For the most part, I am in control of my schedule and I get to decide how to spend my time. I’ve been having difficulty acclimating to this because I go in to work feeling like I have nothing to do since no one has assigned me a specific task, and I leave work feeling like I did nothing to contribute to my team since I didn’t complete a specific task. The rejection from the agent came during the height of my anxiety about this new job, and the two experiences really held a mirror up to my insecurities.

Even though I’ve worked hard on self-acceptance and personal growth this year, I still seek esteem through what I do, rather than who I am.

If I’m too busy focusing on tasks and results, then I will miss chances to be creative and innovative.

When I started to rethink my approach to my new job, I gained some confidence to be curious. I gained some trust in myself to approach my supervisor with ideas, instead of asking her for more tasks. I redefined my work day as a chance to experiment, instead of an obligation to produce something.

That newfound trust is something I’ll have to keep working on in every area of my life. I’ll have to keep trying new things.

I’ll have to keep going for it.

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That trust won’t be static. Some days, I’ll still feel anxious. Some days, I’ll still ache for validation through accomplishment, and that’s okay.

When it comes to writing, this trust is highly valuable.

If I miss opportunities to create and innovate because I’m too worried about creating a product, then I miss the whole point.

If I trust myself to write the story that’s in my heart (sorry for the cheesy cliché, but I can’t figure out any other way to say that), then I’ll write something that matters; then I’ll know when enough is enough and my manuscript is ready; then I’ll trust myself to go for it.

Some days, I’ll let rejection wash over me, and some days, it’ll get me down. Some days, I’ll sit down to write and feel great about even just a few words, and other days I’ll feel shitty for not finishing something; regardless, I can keep training myself to trust in the process.

I can teach myself, through my words and my actions, that I’m valuable with or without an accomplishment to show for the day.

I can redefine what accomplishment means.

I can trust that my definition of what’s good is good. I can let less productive days be merely blips in my existence.

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What could you gain from trusting yourself? What insights could you glean from focusing on process over product?

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The Fundamentals of Personal Growth: Appreciation

It may not be in the best form to start off a piece of writing with word definitions, but I’m going to do that today because there’s a lot of overlap in acceptance and appreciation and I want to determine the difference.

While both accept and appreciate, denote some kind of action, I think of appreciate as demonstrably more actionable than accept. Accept, which means to give approval, is, in my opinion, more of an inner choice; while appreciate, which means to be grateful for or value highly, is, in my opinion, more of a behavior.

Appreciation is synonymous with gratitude.

When I’m grateful for the sunrise, I stop to watch it. When I’m feeling grateful for my husband, I let him know. When I’m grateful for a clean house, I light a candle and melt into the couch. I express my gratitude for beautiful things and people, but it’s a little harder to do that for myself.

Appreciation, in regards to personal growth, is a little bit like self-care, and self-care is a highly personalized routine or process, so rather than generally suggest ideas, I’m going to share some things that I do to appreciate and care for myself.

1.Keep track of my positive qualities

I have a habit of glomming onto the negative, and because I’ve been doing it for so long I have to make concrete attempts at noticing the positive. It feels hokey and cheesy to say phrases like “I’m good at ____,” or “I’m proud of myself for doing ____,” but the more I’ve practiced it, the more genuine it has become.

“Your real self moves with inconceivable rapidity as your thought moves.” – Prentice Mulford

2.Focus on my strengths

Besides just keeping track of my positive qualities, I try to focus on them above my weaknesses, which is a difficult balance because I have a habit of ignoring, too, but if I can tip the scales in favor of my strengths, then I have more motivation, energy, and peace.

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3.Express gratitude for who I have been and how that has made me who I am

There are times where I find myself in deep regret over my past. In high school, I completely withdrew from the world. I thought my social anxiety was a phase and that I’d grow out of it in college, so I waited. I didn’t grow out of it. Sometimes I wish I could go back and shake myself. Sometimes I wonder who I’d be if I had tried harder to have more friends or do more normal teenager things, but then I realize that it’s probably all for the best. I was so lonely in high school I probably would have done anything to fit in. That shy, timid girl made me who I am today. Eventually, she showed me what it means to struggle and overcome. She gave me some unwavering values, and I can be grateful for that.

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This was a short post because, I have to be honest, I ran out of steam. I think that the last fundamentals I have lined up for the year will be more varied and provide more interest. I hope.

What do you do to appreciate yourself? Besides trying to be positive in your self-talk, as I’ve outlined here, I’m curious, do you take yourself out for coffee? Run a hot bath? Order pizza?

Being Sick is Like Hitting the Reset Button

Last week, my husband and I both got sick. It was one of those yucky head colds that verge on feeling just bad enough to maybe be the flu, but then also we were well enough to get out of bed, but also we could hardly breath through our noses and our heads felt like balloons.

I hate being sick, not just because it sucks, but because whenever I’m sick, I always struggle with guilt and doubt.

If I have to call into work or cancel plans, I feel like I’m lying about how sick I am just to get out of my commitments. While getting to stay home and watch TV or sleep is a benefit to being sick, the novelty of doing nothing wears off fast, and then I begin to realize that the worst part about being sick isn’t so much being sick, but that my routine has to bend so that I can rest.

I struggle between the knowledge that I’ll recover quicker if I rest, and the guilt of putting things or people on hold; the fear of losing momentum toward my goals.

I recently read an excerpt from Matthew Sweet’s blog post “The tyranny of the perfect day” that mirrored these frustrations I have with my routine being disrupted quite perfectly. It’s a little long, but it says more than I can figure out how to say about this topic:

A while ago I discovered my “perfect morning”. I liked to rise before the sun, meditate for a while, read whilst drinking a few cups of coffee, then write for a few hours. After that, I’d squeeze in whatever else my relationships, commitments and ambitions demanded of me. So, I thought, why not try to make every morning like that? I tried and it was surprisingly successful. But it also made me fragile. If I didn’t get up early enough then I felt the morning was lost. If my meditation session went terribly then it threw me out of rhythm. If I couldn’t focus whilst reading I felt annoyed. If I sat at the keyboard and nothing came to me, I’d wind myself up into a hybrid state of anxiety and fear. I was seeking uniformity in my mornings and Life was giving me the middle finger, thwarting my quest in mostly consistent, but sometimes unexpected, ways.

By Wednesday of last week, I had reached maximum grumpiness and laziness from being sick, but I could not convince myself that it was okay to rest because I wanted, so desperately, to get back to that perfect routine.

I know that it’s normal to be grumpy when you’re sick, but having to deviate from my routine made me feel like I was crawling my way back to dark places of self-loathing.

I could hardly let myself off the hook for a week of being sick.

Even writing it now, a week seems like way too long a time.

Eventually, through desperate journal writing to try and get myself out of a dangerous thought spiral, I came to these questions:

Have I really learned to accept myself, or have I just built up a routine that keeps me from feeling like a loser?

Have I just structured my life in such a way that there’s no room for me to be mean to myself because I never let myself falter or fail?

I think that maybe I have.

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I feel a little confused because I had been singing the praises of routines and structure, but now I’m seriously questioning routines for their fragile inflexibility.

At the end of Matthew Sweet’s post he says this:

I don’t fall into the trap of thinking that my perfect days should be uniform and repeatable. Instead, I labour under the assumption that perfect days can only be revealed in hindsight, not planned or prepared for in advance.

I think that I have reached the limit on introspection with this subject. Nothing will change if all I do is think about it. I have to make some tangible efforts to free myself from my own routine, and show myself that I am worthy every day, not just the perfect ones.border

Do you feel like your routine is too rigid? Do you feel as though all your progress or motivation to move forward gets reset when you’re sick?

5 Reasons I Procrastinate

To be honest, I typically don’t procrastinate. I am very alert to deadlines and have never operated well under last minute panic. I am often ahead of schedule, when there is a schedule, but in regards to tasks with nebulous or extended timelines and goals, like writing a novel, I find it difficult to stay ahead of the game.

I’ve observed the reasons why I procrastinate because the ways in which I procrastinate, like watching mindless YouTube videos or staring off into space like I’m searching for life’s answers, only add fuel to the anxiety around getting started on whatever it is I’m working on. The more I procrastinate, the less I want to get started. The less I want to get started, the more time I spend procrastinating.

“Procrastination makes easy things hard, hard things harder.” – Mason Cooley

The five main reasons I seem to procrastinate are:

1.I’m afraid to face the emotional work

This reason for procrastination came up in the past week as I was applying for a job that I was genuinely excited about. My qualifications were a great match, and I was excited by the company’s values. As I started drafting my cover letter, however, I began clicking in and out of my web browser, scrolling through YouTube or checking my email. The rest of the week I’d been very focused in writing my documents for job applications, so I wondered – what was different with this one?

“Procrastination is your body telling you you need to back off a bit and think about what you are doing.” – James Altucher

I clicked out of my browser to explore what was happening and I realized – I didn’t like how excited I was getting about the job because I didn’t want to have to feel disappointed if it didn’t work out. That fear of disappointment, consequently, is another big reason why I procrastinate.

2. I’m afraid of being disappointed

As a reason for procrastination, this doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.

I’m always more disappointed when I allow the fear of disappointment to keep me from even trying.

Nevertheless, this fear still ensnares me in its gnarly teeth more often than I’d like. However, becoming aware that this is an issue makes it much easier to push through and get started, even if I’m worried about the emotional consequences.

It always seems counterproductive to me that acknowledging negative emotions is the key to moving past them, but it always works. When I faced the emotional baggage holding me back from putting my all into the cover letter for that job, I was able to buckle down and write a pretty damn good cover letter, if I do say so myself.

3. I think it’s going to be harder than it actually is

This one used to get me in college all the time when I had to write essays. I’d have an essay due on some obscure topic like the emotion of sound in a novel and I’d think, dear god, how am I ever going to argue that point, but then when I finally got started drafting my thesis, it would always come together with much more ease than I anticipated.

I still get hung up on this one today when I’m working on my novel. I’m in the revision stage right now and when I hit a particularly challenging spot, like if I need to reorder some chapters and I’m not sure how, or if the plot point is faulty, I doddle pretty hard.

When I finally get started, though, it’s always so much easier than the mountainous trek I had built it up to be.

4. I’m afraid it will never be good enough

(aka – the fear that I’ll never be good enough)

If I’m honest, this reason is probably at the core of all these reasons.

The fear that I’m going to fail, or that I already am a failure, haunts me from a dark place inside my mind.

It would be so easy to give in to that fear and never do anything again, and I think procrastination is a twisted way of testing myself.

Will I give in to my fears? Will I decide that I’m unworthy? Or will I decide that I’m good enough?

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Thankfully, I’ve learned that even if I procrastinate, it doesn’t mean I’ve already given into the beast of self-doubt. I can always still decide that I am, in fact, worthy of the effort.

5. I don’t have an action plan and I don’t know where to start

A lot of times when I sit down to work on my novel, I have no idea where to start. There are a million places I could start. How am I supposed to know which is the best place to start? If I start in chapter five and something changes in chapter 3, then all the work will be moot, anyway, right?

I can get caught in that loop of figuring out the best place to start for way longer than I care to admit. When I create a plan, or at least come to my writing with an intention, then I am able to jump right in and not even hesitate over clicking open my word document before anything else.

. . .

There are a lot of reasons why I procrastinate, and many of them are not nearly as profound or emotionally deep as the five reasons listed here. Compliment this blog post with my Medium article “The Real Reasons I Procrastinate: Internet, dogs, and coffee.”

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I’m curious to know, are you fueled by last minute panic, or do you generally operate ahead of schedule? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Job Hunting and Self-esteem

A few weeks ago, I quit my part-time job so that I could put all my energy into finding a more stable, and to be honest better paying job that utilizes more of my skills. And yet, the first week I began expending this energy toward my job search, I only applied for low-paying jobs that I knew I could get, and a I got a few of them, but ended up turning them down because I realized I wasn’t doing what I set out to do.

I wanted more for myself, but I was scared.

When I graduated, I made a goal not to conflate my self-worth with my job, and in so doing, I set my sights very low. I was applying for the same kind of jobs I had before I graduated with my Master’s degree. Jobs with little autonomy and few responsibilities. Jobs where I could exercise competence, but have no chance at growing professionally. Jobs where I hadn’t been very happy in the past. I wobbled between convincing myself that these jobs would be good enough – I could learn to be happy, and knowing that I wouldn’t be happy long-term.

After going to a few interviews and thinking “I don’t want that job,” instead of “I hope they call me back,” I sat down and reworked my resume. I realized that I had been selling myself incredibly short. I started to see how the skills I gained through work experience and education could apply to positions that had seemed out of my league only a few days ago.

 

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I’m tempted to say that I lost an entire week to applying for jobs I didn’t even really want, but I know that I didn’t truly lose any time because I learned a valuable lesson.

I learned what I don’t want.

I learned that I can expand the breadth of my search, and doing so doesn’t mean that I am neglecting my goal to not conflate my self-worth with my job prospects, it simply means that I am recognizing and honoring my skills.

I am giving myself permission to search for something that could make me happy.

And, maybe I won’t get the job I really want. Maybe I’ll get my second, third, or tenth choice, but I have allowed myself to dream a little bigger.

I’m still scared, but fear is better than being complacent or resigned.

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Do you need to give yourself permission to do what you really want?

How Better Breathing is Improving my Anxiety

One of the biggest pieces of advice you’ll get for anxiety is: breathe.

It’s one of those annoyingly simple and seemingly dismissive rehearsed mantras that you’ll have heard a million times if you suffer anxiety, but the thing is, it can truly make a difference.

When I finished grad school in the heat of this past Summer, I felt an immediate sense of panic and hurry. I wanted to move on and get to the next phase of my life immediately.

In the rush, I forgot to slow down and breathe fully.

My shallow breathing was making me weak, tired, and more anxious. I found myself suffering new physical symptoms of anxiety like an ever-present tightness in my chest and difficulty swallowing.

I kept forcing myself to be positive about what was next.

I  thought that being positive would make the anxiety go away. I thought that if I wasn’t, the Universe, or God, or whatever wouldn’t bless me.

Then, I started accepting my worries. I changed the track in my mind from “it’s going to work out great” to “I’m worried, but that’s okay.”

As I stopped forcing myself to think only positive, forward-thinking thoughts, I reconnected with my natural breath – slow, steady breaths through the nose.

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– Thich Nhat Hanh

Slowing down my breath to my natural rhythm has, in turn, helped me to be more patient.

My body doesn’t feel so rushed, and now, neither does my mind.

Of course, I am not saying that breathing better has cleared my head of all worries. It hasn’t. The increased oxygen supply to my body from deep, nasal breaths has, however, given me more clarity and focus.

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No matter how often I learn of my body’s connection to my mind, I am still blown away by it every time. When I take care of my body, my mental health improves. When I take care of my mental health, I am motivated to take care of my body. And to think, this cycle of self-care can all begin with a deep breath.

Disagreeing with Motivational Quotes

About a year ago, my dad starting sending daily motivational quotes in a group message to our family. I understand that the intention is one of kindness and love for us, but when you receive these platitudes daily, they really start to lose their meaning.

None of the following quotes I’m about to disagree with are ones my dad sent, I just got inspired to disagree with some of the more commonly seen quotes as an exercise in critical thinking because I have certainly been guilty of liking or reposting motivational quotes without thinking too much about them.

1.“There’s no such thing as being too busy. If you really want something, you’ll make time for it.” – Unknown

I can agree with this to some degree, and I definitely feel irritated with people who go on and on about how busy they are, but you know what, some people really are that busy.  For some, being busy is a choice, and that’s when I get annoyed by the complaining, but some people are that busy just to survive and squeezing an extra second out of a day would be difficult. This particular piece of “motivation” really only applies to people privileged with extra time.

 2.”People don’t care how much we know until they first know how much we care.” – Zig Ziglar

I wish! How many times have you been in a social setting and seen people nod their heads in amazement at that one person who can’t shut up about everything they “know,” meanwhile, the person who has shown how much they care by providing a listening ear to everyone who has talked to them at the party, is shut down every time they speak up about what they know or care about.

If you’re loud and good at bullshitting, you don’t have to care about anything.

3.”It is true that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one.” – Zig Ziglar

I don’t think I even have to say why I disagree with this one.

4.“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” – Marilyn Monroe

Fear isn’t stupid, and if we think that it is, then we’re denying a piece of our humanity. We need to challenge our fears, sure, but fear itself isn’t stupid. Sometimes, fear is a great motivator and it’s there for a reason, as are regrets. Sometimes, it takes a big regret to make a better decision for the future.

5.“Fear less”

I think we all ought to keep being afraid from time to time because if we never have fear, then we can never challenge it, and then the whole concept of courage becomes irrelevant.

6.“Your past is just a story. And once you realize this, it has no power over you.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Your past is a part of you. It’s important to accept it as truth and recognize how far you’ve come, and then you can relinquish the power it has over you.

7.“Work while they sleep. Learn while they party. Save while they spend. Live like they dream.” – Unknown

I can agree with “save while they spend,” but I cannot stand this mentality that we just need to work harder, faster, better, more. And as someone who never partied as a teenager and overachieved in my academic work in college, I can say that I wish I would have partied a little. I think I missed out on a lot of opportunities to learn about who I am as a person, what I value, and what I’m willing to stand up for because I never went to parties. There are a lot of ways to learn, and socializing is one of them. Plus, if you want to “live like they dream” shouldn’t you be doing a little partying? I don’t think any of us are dreaming about working and learning all day.

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8.“You attract what you are, not what you want. If you want great, then be great.” – Unknown

Plenty of people are GREAT and still not getting greatness in return. Life just isn’t fair.

9.“You can’t get rich thinking poor.” – Grant Cardone

This is not only insensitive, it’s incredibly irresponsible.

There are plenty of motivational quotes that have a strong emotional resonance, and certainly there have been times when my dad has sent a quote that really stuck with me and gave me a desire to do better on that particular day, but there are just so many of these empty words on every corner of the Internet, and haunting the hallways of schools and offices that it’s hard to parse meaning from them all the time. It’s important to remain critical of the information we’re getting from these quotes because it could be easy to internalize the idea that we’re lazy if we’re constantly seeing quotes that say we just aren’t making enough time, or we’re not working hard enough.

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What’s a motivational quote you disagree with?

I Went to a Concert Alone

I don’t like to admit to this, because it’s a little embarrassing for me, but I have anxiety about going places alone.

I know that it’s common to have anxiety about being alone in public, but it’s the last piece of my anxiety that I feel is really holding me back.

I don’t do as many things as I would like to do because I don’t have friends nearby that I can call whenever I feel like going out for brunch, taking a hike, or hitting up that concert.

Over the weekend, there was a big free music festival and one of my favorite musicians, Katie Herzig, was playing an evening set. It was a little last minute to invite a friend and my husband was out of town, so I decided to go by myself.

Well, I tentatively decided to go by myself and then spent the whole day making up excuses about why I wasn’t going to go.

My excuses were pretty pathetic:

  1. I don’t want to drive forty minutes to get there

  2. It’s going to be difficult to find parking because everyone will be downtown

  3. I don’t want to leave the dog alone

  4. I’m going to be leaving around dinnertime and I don’t want to spend money to eat at the concert

  5. My student loan payments are coming to maturity soon and I shouldn’t be doing anything fun at all because I’m a big fool who spent an obnoxious amount of money on school and I don’t deserve to do anything but be miserable until this debt is paid off

That last excuse almost kept me from going, but in the end I recognized it for what it was. A bullshit excuse.

I decided to treat these plans I had made with myself as though they were plans I’d made with a friend. I needed to take them seriously. I needed to get there on time. I needed to be there for myself.

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And you know what?

  1. I listened to an audiobook on the drive over, the traffic was light, and I was there in no time.

  2. I only drove around for about 10 minutes looking for parking and it wasn’t that far from the stage.

  3. The concert was only an hour, so the dog was alive and perfectly fine when I got home.

  4. I had a quick snack before I left so I wasn’t hungry at the concert.

  5. My student loans don’t have to keep me from enjoying my life. I can’t go back in time and take out less money or skip school altogether. I can’t escape paying back the loans. I was privileged with a good education, I enjoyed the experience, and there’s no point in being miserable while I pay off this debt.

Most importantly, though, it was freeing to be at the concert alone. I felt so proud of myself for going that it erased all the anxiety I’d been feeling earlier that day. I was able to relax and have an even better time alone because I didn’t have to worry if my company was having a good time, and I didn’t have to make any compromises for anyone. I simply enjoyed the experience just for myself.

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Sometimes it feels like I’ve been on this journey to overcoming my anxiety forever, but going to the concert by myself put things into perspective for me. I used to struggle being in crowds even when I was with my family or friends. I would clam up in fear that I would lose sight of familiar people. I would practically tether myself to whoever I was with so I didn’t get lost. But, I navigated through the big crowd at this music festival, all by myself. I stood in the middle of a crowd surrounding the stage, all by myself. I feel a little bit like a five-year-old being proud for doing something “all by myself,” but whatever, I’ve earned my pride.

I’ve come a long way and I deserve to feel accomplished.

While I know that the next time I go somewhere alone I’ll still have a little bit of anxiety, I will be far less wrecked by it.

Plus, the more things I do alone, the easier it will get until I’m hardly even fazed.

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What’s something that’s holding you back? What can you do to begin the journey to overcoming it?

8 Positive Benefits of Life Changes

Change has always been an anxiety inducing experience for me. I remember being terrified about the nitty gritty details in changing from Elementary to Junior High School. I was most worried about who I would sit with at lunch, for example.

Change brings with it uncertainty, and that makes me uncomfortable.

I’ve been writing a lot about how I don’t like change and how much fear and anxiety it causes me, so I decided to work on re-framing my thoughts. That way I can start taking action to combat the anxiety, instead of complaining about it and dreading it.

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1.Opportunity to Grow

I have long attributed my first step toward overcoming my paralyzing social anxiety to my first job working with kids, as a skills trainer. The job presented many challenges, but I overcame them. Besides having to interact more with my co-workers, kids, and their families, I also had the most autonomy I’d ever had in a job. It was a scary change, but I wouldn’t have grown in to the person I am today if I hadn’t made the leap to take the job and harness the opportunities it gave me to grow and become a better person.

2.Progress

I can’t achieve any of my goals without progress. Change forces me to make progress. Whether it be on myself, our financial situation, or a creative endeavor I’ve been working on, change makes me aware of what needs tended to and invites me to do something about it.

3.New Experiences

I’ve always been a big scaredy cat with a hidden sense of adventure. I want to be the person who can say she’s been sky diving or got lost in a foreign country, but I’m too scared to do it. Recently, I challenged my scaredy cat heart and went zip lining. I may not be any closer to signing up for a sky diving session, but change happens through a continuous progression of new experiences and events.

4.Shake up a Stale Routine

It doesn’t take much time for me to get comfortable in a routine, even if that routine isn’t particularly fulfilling. Life change forces me out of my practiced habits and daily drudgery and invites me to try new things.

5.New Choices for Happiness and Fulfillment

When change occurs, I’m presented with new opportunities to seek personal fulfillment. Sometimes, the fulfillment might come in a form I never expected. Back when I worked as a skills trainer, I never expected it to be so rewarding – I just wanted a job that wasn’t in a stuffy basement office – but the job ended up being so much more than new scenery and a better paycheck.

6.Learn Something New about Myself

To continue the running theme here, when I first started working with kids I had no idea that I would like it as much as I did. At first, I was so scared. I thought I’d be terrible at it because I’m quiet and I didn’t feel like a leader, but I quickly learned that I can reach a level of being myself when I’m working with kids that I never reach when I’m interacting with adults. I learned that I can be silly, playful, and way more compassionate than I’d ever known I could be.

7.Discover New Places

Change has always forced me out of my familiar haunts (mainly my house). I see new parts of town through work or meeting new friends. Recently, I was driving a friend home and we were on a road that I always take to get to the grocery store, but I never knew it was a through street because I’ve never had to take it that far. My friend busted up laughing and said, “I feel like I’m blowing your mind here.”

8.Arouse New, Fresh Motivation

Whenever I have a big life change I go through the following phases:

1. Excitement

2. Dread

3. Some sadness, sometimes depression

4. Everything becomes routine again

During the excitement phase, I become incredibly inspired by things I’d long forgotten could inspire me. Music, nature, movies, books, antique stores, food, crafts, fashion and almost any form of creative expression I encounter. It’s a wonderful phase that is quickly dulled when the overall effect of the change on my life becomes more apparent.

Now that I’m aware of the way I cycle through periods of change, maybe I can hold more tightly onto those excited inspiration strings. I can pull the kite through the tunnel of dread, reel it in for comfort when the peaks of sadness hit, and cast it back out into the wind for inspiration when the routine settles in.

The overall sentiment that I’m taking away from this re-framing challenge is that change is scary, but so is the alternative.

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What are some positive benefits of change that you can search for when it all starts to feel chaotic or overwhelming?

If I Loved Myself as Much as I Love my Dog

I love my dog Scott so much. I feel so much joy and pride from taking care of him well. I want him to be happy and healthy. When I get frustrated with him, it’s as fleeting as the shapes of clouds.

I wonder what it’d be like if I loved myself as much as I love my dog?

  1. I’d forgive myself in 2 seconds flat.

  2. I’d believe myself worthy of unconditional love.

  3. I’d make sure I get enough physical exercise every day.

  4. I’d get more than enough sleep.

  5. I’d feed myself the best food and treat myself just for being me.treat-yourself

  6. I wouldn’t judge myself for laying around and relaxing.

  7. I’d give myself an endless supply of chances to do better.

  8. I’d think I was CUTE all the time.

While my husband and I shower Scott with unconditional love, we still have our boundaries. Like, he’s not allowed to bark at passerby on the balcony or guests in the house, but just because we discipline him doesn’t mean we don’t have the same level of love for him when he needs to sit or go be alone in a room for a few minutes.

Maintaining a set of personal standards and discipline doesn’t have to be the opposite of loving myself unconditionally. I can have both.

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In what ways could you be more loving with yourself? How can you balance unconditional self-love with keeping up your own personal standards?