Fooling myself

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

-R.P Feynman

How easy it is for YOU, to fool you! I’ve paid a high price for doing this to myself. Your mind knows when your heart is fooling you, and vice versa. When you choose to listen to the negative talk in your mind, it causes pain to your heart. When your heart is trying to justify a wrong action or thought, it causes mental anguish. It gets to the point where the rest of your body also begins to suffer because of this conflict going on between your mind and heart.

An example of personal inner conflict, that would go on every day for me, would begin with my mind telling me, “you’re worthless”. This was triggered when I couldn’t connect with my kids and my husband, or seeing the problems my disorganization caused to our finances and home. Saying this to myself left me emotionally unavailable to them, so it became a vicious cycle. Yet, as often as my mind would repeat those words, my heart didn’t really believe them to be true. It knew I had some value. That value, was based on the love of my family and friends, and my Creator. I felt like that twenty dollar bill I once heard of in an illustration some years ago; that had been crumpled up, stepped on and soiled. Yes, it was in bad shape, but it still had value.

In starting to correct this way of thinking, the inner conflict has subsided. It’s being replaced with inner peace (I never believed it truly existed until now!). I can use the freed up strength to start correcting other negative thinking, and channel my emotions in positive ways (most of the time).

The journey to begin this process can seem daunting because for many of us that’s the only kind of thinking we’ve ever known! But it’s time to stop fooling yourself; whether it’s with negative talk, or toxic emotions. You deserve the peace that comes with it!

; )

 

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Final two pieces of advice on “10 things” list

9. “Look around at how you can make the world a better place. Instead of just passing through, make a positive contribution to life. If local or world tragedies touch your heart, listen to the call. It will make you feel alive.”

This is when I felt in my element, when I helped people. It required emotional strength to do this though, and to have a love for people. No matter how good your intentions in helping are, they won’t go far if you don’t have love for yourself. We were created to both receive and give this beautiful emotion. When we don’t feel love for ourselves, we become weak emotionally. It becomes hard for us to accept the love of others. Walls go up, and it affects our relationships and our ability to reach out. I found that as I sunk into depression I was no longer reaching out to help others. I never thought that starting to like myself, would affect me the way it has. I use the word “like”, because I don’t yet love myself; but it feels way better than self hate! I look at others with a deeper appreciation and my sincerity in helping has been refined. It truly does make you feel alive when you connect with others and share hope.

10. “Decide that you want to be a better person. As we all know, that daunting task starts with you. As you make yourself better, the lives of those around you will improve as well.”

I’m all for becoming a better person! No one can say they have no room for improvement. I was all too aware of what I wanted to change within myself, but not what I “needed” to change. I couldn’t see how my negative thoughts hindered me from making any progress. I had to let go of everything that wasn’t helping me by sharing it. This was hard to do, but it was even harder to keep suppressing them. The pain, sorrow, anger, and grief that came with sharing painful experiences, are no longer there to dominate my mind. I feel like I have room in my lungs for deep breaths, where as before it was for crying or sighing.

These changes within me will hopefully begin to touch the lives of my family and friends. We need each other to make it through the tough times. We were blessed with a support system, but it won’t be of any help if we don’t tap into it.

Ideas 7 & 8

7. “Always have an achievable goal or dream. You don’t have to work at your goal every day, but it helps to keep one in mind. For example, if your dream is to move to Hawaii, have a picture of the islands on your wall.”

My goal every morning was to make it to the end of the day! That’s how it was for a good three, plus years. I couldn’t see past the present day. I would make plans (not very many) ,but I often thought I wasn’t gonna be well enough to see them through. On bad days I didn’t think I’d live long enough to accomplish anything, and so held off from having goals to work on. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want any. I just found that at the time, having them was overwhelming. I wasn’t living, I was existing.

8. “Being a little jealous of someone else’s success can be inspirational. Hey, if he or she can do it, then so can you. Sometimes to propel ourselves to the next level, we have to feel that we missed out on something.”

This was another one I felt didn’t apply to me. I’ve never thought something good could come out of jealous feelings, but then again that’s my personal viewpoint. For me it raises questions like: If someone’s success pushes you to try harder, what’s at the root of it? Is it to improve as a person, or is it to feel superior to those who haven’t yet achieved what you have? Some may see no problem with this advice, but from where I am right now emotionally, I choose to forgo.

Ideas 5 & 6

5. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. When you do, you’ll realize what a waste of time it was. It’s important to let your pain out, but it’s more important not to live your life with it.”

I honestly wanted to stop feeling sorry for myself. I wanted to awaken the strong woman within me; the one who could overcome the toughest problems without being knocked down. When I would read this advice, I felt clueless as to how I should apply it. Maybe that’s how people who have addictions feel when they’re told to quit whatever it is that they abuse. I definitely needed a different kind of help. A pep talk wasn’t gonna do it!

6. “Trust your inner voices, but get confirmation from an authority. If you are inspired to follow your bliss but it will mean creating some difficult changes for loved ones, you would be wise to talk to an adviser first. Then run your plan by the people who will be affected.”

I didn’t feel this applied to me at the time, nor in the present. My “bliss” didn’t involve creating difficult changes for anyone in the family. I’m still learning to trust my inner voice, and I find it’s becoming easier as my thoughts become more positive.

Ideas 3 & 4

3.“Don’t wait for ill health to inspire you to take care of yourself. Exercise, get regular checkups, eat healthy and don’t smoke. Those changes will give you a lease on a longer life.”

Hmmmm, my health was pretty much in the dumps! I knew about good nutrition, but thought it was too hard to stick to. When you feel terrible emotionally, food is a good stimulant. Who doesn’t feel better after eating a few delicious cookies, or cake? Sadly, that good feeling is fleeting, so you need more. See the snow ball effect? We’ll comfort ourselves not only with food but with other things that can be detrimental to our health.

4.“Some days you’re jogging, and some days you’re slogging. No matter how hard you work at making things better, there will be bad days. Accept it, get through it and start again tomorrow.”

Sound familiar? I posted and commented on this a few days ago. We all have different speeds and things happen on a daily basis that can affect how fast or how slow we go. The important thing is not to stop. When you stop you start to sink. I would have a pity party and think it was the end of the world! Yeah, I realized life goes on just like it should. No one wants to stay stuck in a bad moment and remain miserable. Bad days give us lessons and good days give us awesome memories.

First two ideas on the “10 things…” list

I found this article in, The Grand Rapids Press newspaper, written by Barton Goldsmith. Like I mentioned in my last post, I initially found it motivating. These ideas may be easier to apply if you’re not dealing with depression, but find yourself in a rut.

1.“You are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. If you have thought that life is passing you by, there’s some truth in it. Find something you are passionate about learning or doing, and get to it.”

At my lowest point I had no motivation. I was in survival mode. I’d do the things that had to get done and no more (sometimes I wouldn’t get that far either). When you walked in my house you could tell this was the case because there was no longer a sense of organization. This advice sounded wonderful but I didn’t know where to find that passion within me to get me going.

2.“When someone important to you asks you to change, don’t take your loved one’s request lightly. Other people can see you differently than you see yourself. When a person who cares gives you some gentle direction, it’s a gift.”

I didn’t feel like I had anything to change in myself! Sure, I was open to improving my good qualities, but I didn’t feel like there were major character flaws within me. Sound like someone in deep denial?! You bet I was! Add to that a Dr., telling me that my depression was due to a chemical imbalance. The mood swings, irritability, bursts of anger, bouts of crying, and sleeplessness, were all due to my brain not receiving this essential chemical in adequate amounts. I just needed pills to make me better. I didn’t have to work at changing anything in me because medication was going to fix that chemical imbalance and make everything okay!

I’m not against medication. There are people out there who do have this problem, and meds help them function. In my case though, it wasn’t an imbalance in chemicals, it was an imbalance of how I viewed myself! My husband tried patiently to help me see this, but I wasn’t ready. The scales had to fall off my eyes! Literally, it seemed! I was definitely ripe and rotting. Within myself, depression has proved to be a thought disease. A manifestation of self hate. That’s something no pill can fix. Now I realize how important loving myself is. It tells those I love, that they matter enough for me to take care of myself.

They deserve a better version of me, and so do I. ; )

A list for Change

Today I found a list I had cut out from a newspaper four years ago, “10 Things that inspire people to Change”. I initially kept it in my Bible. That way I could see it often and remember the things I was working to change. It was motivating at first, but soon became a reminder of what I hadn’t achieved. Looking back on how it made me feel, I would compare it to giving a drowning person tips on how to swim. The fear and panic they’re feeling won’t allow those instructions to make any sense. Their mind is in panic mode, so the kind of help they need calls for action. You can compare this list to a branch, but I needed more, because the raging waters of depression were sinking me.

Well meaning friends and family also gave me advice on how to come out of depression. This though, felt like receiving tools but no instruction on how to use them. If someone hasn’t dug out of the hole of depression, or hasn’t been taught how to use those tools, they pretty much can’t teach you how to use them either. 

What I had to do first, was be brutally honest with myself. This was one of the hardest things for me, because I had fooled myself into believing that I could out run my issues, fears, and problems. Next, I had to acknowledge and accept my faults, see the destructiveness of my negativity, and also accept that I couldn’t deal w/ depression alone. Finally, I had to let myself be vulnerable, and begin to share things that to me, were extremely shameful. I will break these down and expand on them in the weeks to come. Maybe they’ll be helpful to some of you.: )

I now look forward to the journey of healing my mind. It’s no longer scary or overwhelming, and I know I’m not alone. I thank my family for not giving up on me, when I had given up on myself, especially my husband. I’m finally learning how to use the tools to dig myself out!

Oh, and about that list, I’ll also be sharing it w/ you guys in the days to come. ; )

Perfectionism

“No matter how hard you work at making things better, there will be bad days. Accept it, move forward, and start again tomorrow.”

Being a perfectionist has held me back from many things. For me it’s another manifestation of fear. In this case, fear of failure. How do we get ourselves into this mindset of expecting to do things perfectly, if we’re well aware that we are imperfect?

I think for me it’s about not accepting my limitations & being unrealistic. When something doesn’t turn out the way I visualized it, I’ll be harsh with myself and the self criticism begins. This leads me to give up and tell myself that since I couldn’t do it perfectly, I shouldn’t try it again because I’m gonna fail anyway! This has affected my relationships, my pursuits and even accomplishing everyday tasks. It’s manifested as an, “all or nothing” attitude.

A good illustration I heard, to drive home how defeating perfectionism is, was that of a baby learning to walk. Imagine if every time that baby fell she told herself, “get up you little dummy!”, or “why try, you’re gonna fall again?”
That’s not how it is, and we admire their persistence!

So yes, we will have bad days where it seems like what we’ve done or accomplished isn’t good enough, but you have the next day to try again! And you can’t say that the experience didn’t teach you something new about yourself. ; )

What you think…

“What you think of me is none of my business.”

I read this quote about a month ago and it resonated with me. Since I can remember, I’ve been the kind of person who worries about what others are going to think of me if I do this, or say that. This preoccupation has led me to live a life of constant worry; which equals wasted energy!

Here’s how that worry begins; with me asking, “what if so & so doesn’t agree w/ this,” or ” they’re not gonna be happy w/ me if I do that” etc., etc. Wanting the good opinion of others is not what I’m talking about. That gets built up over time. As family, friends, and colleagues see your good and bad qualities, they hopefully come to value you for who you are. What I’m addressing here isn’t productive. You set limits on your potential simply because you don’t want to rub anyone the wrong way.

So what’s behind this way of thinking? For me it was fear. Fear of displeasing; of falling out of favor with someone. The reality is quite the opposite. It hasn’t won me more friends. I’m not daughter in law of the year and overall, I’m not a better person. I was never, nor will ever, be able to please everyone. I’m coming to terms with that. It is so ingrained though, that when I thought of posting this quote I asked myself, “what if it offends someone?” What I’m fully aware of now is that worrying about such things hasn’t helped me, and it doesn’t make me more likeable either.

If I was asked to rephrase this quote it would go like this, “You are entitled to your opinion of me, and it doesn’t bother me.”

Just because…

“Just because I am not talking doesn’t mean I’m in a bad mood. Sometimes, I just like being quiet.”

Being the quiet one in a loud family, is not easy. At times it can be mistaken as, “she’s in a bad mood.” The majority of times, though, I’m just taking it all in. Listening to the conversations, processing the information, and observing how everyone is interacting. I like to think of myself as a people watcher. There is so much more one learns about people, simply by observing and listening.

At other times, my quietness signals that I’m overwhelmed and need some alone time. I really enjoy being around others, but it comes at a price. Unfortunately it leaves me totally drained.: (

For those of you who have a loved one dealing with what I’ve just described, patience is key. It doesn’t mean they don’t like your company or they don’t like having fun with friends. They do, but in small doses and in a smaller group. For those of you who are dealing with this yourself; know your limits. Don’t worry about what others are gonna think if you have to step away. This was (still is) the hardest part for me. The important thing is that you take care of yourself emotionally.
It’s for the sake of your sanity!