I wanted to share a few things that helped me during my journey and they are still things I use today. They are in no particular order.
1. I made this box; inside of the box I put good pictures, items that reminded me of why I liked myself, comics that gave me a good laugh, and a letter to myself about how awesome I am. I used this when I had low days, days that were extra sensitive and needed a boost. The purpose was to remind myself that as low as I was then, it was not my whole life or future. Tomorrow could be better.
2. Friends. I’m still learning about how important it is to have connections. We are wired to need and depend on other human beings. This means for me as a mom, that I need to make a phone call or get out to do something. I’m not talking about friends that are superficial where you generally talk about your day, I mean friends that you can be vulnerable with. I have two outside of my husband at the top of my list but I’m working on widening that circle. I just spent a weekend with a couple of friends a few weeks ago and I purposefully went with the mindset that I was going to open up. At the end of the weekend I actually felt refreshed. Even though I had started the weekend with a little mom guilt about being away from my son, at the end I was ready to plan another trip.
3. Books! I’ve been reading different books to find ways to keep helping myself. Here are some of the authors/titles that I’ve really enjoyed (if you have a recommendation please tell me!)
Greg Baer(Real Love in Marriage)
Gary D. Chapman(5 love languages)
Sue Johnson(Hold Me Tight & Love Sense)
Sue Patton Thoele(The Courage to be Yourself)
Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller
These are only the ones I’ve actually gone through the books, I do have a wish list of books I haven’t read yet. I’m a busy mom and as much as I would love to just sit down and read a book, I usually listen to it by audio while doing the housework or walking to the park again.
4. Counseling. I went for the first time about 5 years ago now and went off and on until last July 2015. I’ve been going once a week since then, either with my husband, by myself or he goes by himself, whichever works for our schedule. This began 4.5 year ago when I was telling someone about a traumatic event in my life and I was still in hysterics sharing it which mortified me. I’m not one to cry in front of people (I’m an avoidant for those who have read or want to read ‘Attached’). Then she told me, I think this is something you need to work through, have you thought about talking to someone? I panicked thinking that there was something wrong with me. What I learned is that there wasn’t anything wrong with me but I did lack coping skills and a healthy attachment. I never saw myself as suffering from depression and anxiety but I did. Now I can recognize my triggers and take care of myself. I’m not perfect at it, I still have low days but they are nothing like they were. My marriage has improved, not only did we learn fair fighting rules, better ways to communicate, but we learned to drop below the content and share what’s really going on emotionally for us. That last part is so difficult! It requires risk and vulnerability and if you reach out there is still a chance your partner won’t reach back which is scary! We’re still learning and have plenty of room for improvement.
5. Music. I started making a choice about 5 years ago to stop listening to the popular news station. Have you been listening to what seemed like a great song only to realize what the lyrics actually were?? The main station I used to listen to had a lot of segments where they caught men cheating, shared terrible dates, etc. I kid you not, my mindset then was so negative about men! If my husband (then boyfriend) did something I didn’t like I ended up telling myself, “Of course he did this, ugh what a jerk!” I’m reflecting now and I just have this feeling of being bogged down weighing on my shoulders, I was so negative.
I listened to news talk radio for several years, but now my 3 year old wants music in the car. For almost a year now we’ve been listening to the Christian rock music station. I love when I randomly catch P playing and singing the lyrics to these songs! I usually like to keep myself busy but there are moments in my day where my mind isn’t working, like when I do the laundry or dishes and I’ll be thinking of random things and these songs will jump into my head. It’s incredibly uplifting.
6. Self-Talk. I’m a little embarrassed about this but I’m sure this is the norm for a lot of people, we just don’t usually share/talk about it. For a long time, I’d make a mistake and these are just some of the thoughts that would go through my head:
Wow, how could you mess that up?
That was so simple and you got it wrong.
Why can’t you think this through?
I’m not (pretty, smart, capable, etc.) enough.
I shouldn’t even try, I’d just fail at that too.
I could definitely keep going, but I’m stopping there. I had to change the way I felt about myself or no tool could really help me. It all had to start within me. I think this one has been the most beneficial. I’ve taken a lot more risks for myself the past couple of years and my confidence is boosted and I feel great. How did I change the self-talk? First I had to rewrite what I was saying to myself. Now when I begin with the negative talk I turn it around to say things like:
Mistakes suck! Okay, let’s try this again.
I’m really struggling with this maybe I should just take a break and talk to someone.
I’m not good at this yet, with time and practice I know I can.
Aside from rewriting those negative sentences, I started reminding myself of the things I liked about myself and even giving myself compliments.
These last parts may seem a little weird but it works! When I had a negative visual come to mind I’d pretend I was scribbling over it with a crayon (in my head) and I rewrite the negative. I’ve also said my positive affirmations out loud. If you know what an affirmation is then you’ve heard of people saying them in front of the mirror, oh I know I’ll share this link, the little girl is adorable. I don’t do that, what I do is when I really can’t think my positive thoughts I say them out loud to myself. The shower is a great time for this!
I know that there are several more things I can share but these things are what I have been purposeful in doing to change my life. I’m not going to get what I want by accident; I know the person I want to be and I’m working towards it.
Now I want to know, what do you do to take care of yourself? What helps you keep happiness as a state of mind and not a destination?
Next week I’m having a friend share her story and I asked that she write a short bio to introduce herself and give all of you a sneak peek!
My name is Sapphire. I am married to a great man who supports me in every way he can. I graduated college with an ADN. I am currently a stay at home mom with two beautiful kids that truly are blessings. Our home is on a one acre lot, which we are currently remodeling. This is the 2nd home we are fixing up, while living in it. It is kind of our thing. We have a goal to live on a large enough farm to be able to raise most of our own food and to be self-sufficient. This one acre lot is are stepping stone to that dream. We love the outdoors, camping, fishing, or just working or playing outside. I love to do crafting, sewing, playing music and I am trying to learn the piano better and keep up with my other instruments, when I get the chance. I love sports and played almost everything my schools had to offer but don’t get the chance to play much anymore. We are very busy in our church callings. We are in a small branch and are excited to be in a branch. We love visiting our extended family and try to see them as much as possible; family is important to us. I will be sharing about our struggles of starting and growing our family.
*If you’re interested in sharing your story email me at firstname.lastname@example.org