I have been thinking a lot lately about this blog. I started it after taking this wonderful course on Solution-Focused therapy. I felt inspired to go out in the world and share the positive psychology message of focusing on the things that go well in our lives. About a year later, I have not posted much and have definitely considered deleting this blog on many occasions. The reason why is because I’m not living out of a very positive space internally: I am not practicing what I preach, so why post anything?
I think there is value in authenticity. I think there is value in shedding our facades and being genuine and honest in a public way that might encourage others to have hope, feel more bold, or live authentically in their own lives.
This morning at work, we had an all-staff meeting. I was listening to the presenters and felt a little checked-out. I know myself enough to know that part of the reason why is that I feel overwhelmed in life right now: my boss left about four months ago and as a relatively new employee, I have had to shoulder that position’s workload on top of my own, on top of trying to do well in my graduate program, trying to maintain some level of a positive relationship with my partner, family and friends, and somewhere trying to find time to take care of myself. As an introvert, I have reached my threshold and am shutting down at my job. In the meeting, I found myself asking questions about what I really want to be doing with my life. Since I decided the theme of this year would be about finding clarity in my life, I have been asking myself similar questions for the past few months, such as: what do I love to do, what do I want to do, what do I want to contribute to the world, what past experiences validate these beliefs/ideas/feelings, and what are some of the roadblocks in my way?
The words that have been metaphorically following me around the past few months when I think about my purpose, and what I want to contribute to the world are: validation and hope. Today I would add a third word, which is inspiration. Validation is about helping others know that they exist, that they are seen, beautiful, amazing, have a unique purpose, and that they are important. Validation is also about encouraging others to own their feelings, wants and desires, which are important, real and not something to be dismissed because of negative self talk or feedback from the world. Hope is the next step for me after validation: once we own who we are then we can start realistically putting a plan in place to achieve our dreams/goals/aspirations, which is where hope comes in. Hope is what we need to step one foot forward and make meaningful changes in our lives. If we did not have some small whisper of hope that what we were about to do would work, be good, etc., then would we truly take that step or leap? I think hope encompasses courage, vision and dreams. Finally, I think inspiration involves community and synchronicity from the Universe/God/Whatever you believe. We feel inspired by words, images, actions, reactions, thoughts, feelings, and the list goes on. Once we have hope, we need inspiration to keep us going because the road can be long.
My deepest, darkest hope is to one day have a career/profession that allows me to live out those three words daily, as a counselor or a coach of some kind.
So where are the roadblocks?
I am starting to see where I want to go, who I want to be, the impact I want to make on this world, but I feel stuck. I cannot figure out how to get there. I am working on a degree in counseling, but right now, I cannot find an internship. The internship is key for me to graduate, and having my degree is key to moving forward with a different profession. But why do I feel stuck? Am I really stuck?
I have a good friend who has started a side business of coaching. She is a small business owner and has started down this other path of helping people live on purpose. Her work is amazing, beautiful, inspiring and courageous. I look at what she is doing and think, why do I think that I am incapable of doing something similar? What makes me less-than? And I think the answer is that I waste a lot of time with self-doubt, negative self-talk, and more.
One of the career paths I have dreamed about is becoming a fitness coach. At several points in my life, I have been told that I need to “look the part,” which means I cannot be fat, overweight, etc. I feel so torn about this notion in so many ways. First of all, why do skinny people have more authority over fitness than non-skinny people?! Wouldn’t larger fitness instructors possibly be more inspiring for those who just need a place to start in their journey (I have been there and have thought that skinny, super-fit people were intimidating)? But then again, I also know that I am not healthy right now. When I choose to eat queso and chips during lunch and then later try to run, I feel horrible (this scenario just happened yesterday). I know that when I practice the art of mindfulness, my body knows what makes me feel better physically: fruits, veggies, whole foods. I know that eating those things will actually help me lose weight and possibly achieve my goals, but I also eat when I am not hungry or already feel full because I am distracted, angry, sad, bored, wanting to avoid something, etc. So while I seriously dislike our society’s notion of beauty, I do know that I could be healthier and feel better. I know that I have distorted thinking about myself and food.
Essentially, I am in my own way.
How do I change this fact? How do I try to think differently in order to live brilliantly, as the motto of my blog suggests?
I do not have any concrete answers, but I do have hope and inspiration. For the sake of authenticity and to try to build new habits, I have decided to attempt a 30 Day Challenge about love. The challenge: post once a day about a part of me that I struggle with and need to start actually loving. My hope is that at the end of 30 days, I will love myself a little more and have more clarity on who I am and the gifts that I bring to this world (sort of my own validation).
Here goes nothing….
When I look in the mirror lately, I see the woman on the left: tons of wrinkles, frizzy, thinning hair, drab, sagging skin, a non-symmetrical face. She looks frazzled to me. I feel frazzled. It is easy to think that if I looked better, I would have more opportunities. And I feel this concept deeply and am currently living out of this state: that my looks are holding me back.
However, when I smile, I feel like my face transforms. In the picture on the right, I focus on my eyes and the wrinkles around them, which I think are beautiful. I see my smile and my teeth, which I also think are beautiful. I also see my dimples, which I love. When I look at the picture on the right, I do not focus on my hair, or my skin, or my wrinkles. I see someone who is beautiful, and the only thing that changed is I am smiling. So many times in my life, I have met people who are radiant, amazing and simply gorgeous. They have all come in different body sizes, shapes, ethnicities, backgrounds, etc. The thing that unites them is this inner joy and happiness that transforms them into incredible and beautiful people.
I want to be that person. Scratch that: I AM that person! I am beautiful. I am worthy. I am enough. I have a purpose. I have gifts to share with the world. And I will keep repeating these statements to myself until I truly believe them.
#IAMENOUGH #lovethyself #30dayLoveChallenge