Eating Disorders and Holidays

For many people the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. It is a time to gather with family and friends, catch up on each other’s lives, and share a few laughs. For most people, highlights of the holiday season includes the food and sitting down to enjoy a traditional holiday meal. For people with eating disorders, however, the holidays are often not quite so enjoyable. In fact, they can be the ultimate nightmare. For many sufferers, the holidays bring tremendous stress, anxiety, and fear.

It is common for people who suffer from eating disorders to experience an increase in symptoms of their illness as the holiday season approaches. This may be due to stress over the impending festivities and/or anticipation of the presence of challenging (often high calorie) food in the weeks to come. Many sufferers tell themselves that if they lose a few pounds prior to the holidays, they will be able to allow themselves to eat like everyone else. In reality, this approach rarely works and the eating disorder reasserts itself during the family time.

The following is an account of the holidays as written by Colleen Thompson:

“Whether it was Christmas, Easter or any other holiday, I could never relax and enjoy the day because I knew the moment would arrive when I would have to sit down at the table and face all that food. Usually with my in-laws I could get away with not eating very much. I especially liked having people over to my house, because I could keep busy in the kitchen and spend less time at the table. When I was with my own family, I would sit and eat with everyone else, but the meal was never enjoyed because I was always too busy adding up all the calories in my head and the fear of getting fat would grow stronger with each bite of food. I always looked forward to the moment I could leave, so that I could rush home and purge. The days following the holidays were just as bad. The guilt I would feel was enormous and I would feel desperate to try and make up for all the calories I had consumed. I would really restrict my intake and I would exercise more. Holidays were a time that I just never looked forward to.”

Holidays and intense periods of time spent with family can be stressful for all people, not just those who suffer from eating disorders. Holidays often place pressure on families and this pressure can result in frayed tempers. For families who have a member who is affected by an eating disorder, the pressure and resulting stress can be even greater. It is important for family members to remember that food-related situations are stressful for sufferers of eating disorders and to try above all else to remain calm and loving during fraught times.

It is an unfortunate reality that many eating disorder sufferers dread the holiday season. Fortunately, this can be improved with proper treatment. After recovery, sufferers can progress to a stage in which they enjoy and look forward to holidays once again.

Planning Ahead

In the midst of the problem however, good planning will help make the holidays a little easier. Below is a list of suggestions to help cope with the holidays:

  • Talk to your treatment team and help identify what difficulties you may expect and problem-solve some strategies for dealing with them.
  • If you are following a meal plan try to stick to it over the holidays. Try to anticipate some of the situations that will make following it harder, such as time in transit, time changes, and not having access to your usual foods. If you are traveling, plan how or where you will get the food you need.
  • If you are traveling, it is wise to pack some snack foods both for the time in transit and to have upon arrival at the destination until you can go shopping.
  • Make a list of things you can do to help relax and distract yourself from the feelings of fullness after a big meal. e.g. go for a walk, take a bath, read, visit a friend, go for a drive, etc. If you are traveling be sure to bring some of your distraction activities.
  • Have the phone numbers of your treatment team and friends available to you.
  • If you need to be at a function with certain people who make you uncomfortable, plan some ways to excuse yourself from their immediate presence. Put your own health above anything else at all times.
  • Try not to count calories and try to avoid the scale.
  • If you feel yourself starting to panic because you are feeling too full or if you allowed yourself to eat foods that you consider to be forbidden, remind yourself it is okay to eat what you did, that food will not make you fat, and it is normal to eat more during the holidays. Most people do and it really is okay.
  • If you end up bingeing or purging, do not beat yourself up over it. Just put it behind you and move forward. Try to get back on track at the next meal.
  • Prepare responses to people who may say something to you that would make you uncomfortable.
  • If you feel you need to, set some boundaries for yourself by telling people ahead of time that you do not want anyone to comment on your appearance or your eating.
  • Be sure to plan some time for yourself to do something that you enjoy. It is very important to take special care of yourself during the holidays.Holidays are a very stressful time for people with eating disorders and it is important that you do whatever you need to do in order to make them easier on yourself.

    As you progress in recovery there will come a time when food will no longer prevent you from enjoying the holidays. You will be able to think of them as a time to gather with loved ones. You can make your own special memories, and you may even be able to start looking forward to them.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS

    (What if:)

    H unger means you eat when physically hungry instead of emotionally hungry.

    A ttitudes about your size has to with the size of your heart instead of the size of your body.

    P eople accept and value you for who you are, not according to how you look.

    P roblems are resolved in ways other than stuffing your feelings with food.

    Y ou spend as much time and energy on helping others, as you do on how you look.

     

    H appiness comes from within rather than from expectations of others.

    O ccasions for the holidays emphasize relating to others instead of emphasizing food.

    L ove of self means you deserve to treat yourself in the best humanly possible way.

    I dentity of self involves more than how you look.

    D isapproval of self is changed to approval of who you are.

    A cceptance of what one can not change includes your body features.

    Y ou treat yourself as you treat your best friend.

    S ociety values you for being you without emphasis to your weight or size.

    Written by:
    Sharon Sward, Past President of Eating Disorder Professionals of Colorado
    Author of You Are More Than What You Weigh

How To Stop Binge Eating…What Actually Worked For Me

Can’t stop binge eating? I’ve been there. Once, I ate an entire 1/2 gallon of cookies and cream ice cream in one sitting. For real.

There was a time in my life when episodes like this (though maybe not quite so bad) were not uncommon. And by “not uncommon” I mean weekly – sometimes twice a week.

It’s not something I ever talked about much. After all, what girl in her right mind would brag about downing almost 2,000 calories of ice cream all by herself… all in one sitting?

There’s a ton of shame surrounding binge eating. It’s shameful because deep down we all feel like we should be able to willpower our way through it. And shameful because society says being a “good” woman means eating light salads and being happy about it.

And boy was I ashamed. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s much easier to talk about this because I was able to stop binge eating. It’s much harder when you’re right in the thick of it. At the time, there was nothing more I wanted to learn than how to stop binge eating. But I was too ashamed to talk about it.

But I’m here to say, if you’re still stuck between restriction and binging – you’re not alone. You’re just human, and it’s okay. The shame we feel about binge eating actually just keeps us trapped in the vicious cycle, so one of the most important things you can do is give yourself a little slack.

Not because binging is a healthy behavior – it honestly isn’t – but because shaming yourself isn’t healthy either. And two wrongs don’t make a right.

So, yes, for a long time I hid my binge eating from the outside world. For all the general public knew, I was a salad-loving, tofu-eating health nut.

I wouldn’t dare let on that every day I non-stop thought about all the food I shouldn’t be eating. It was a constant obsession. And at the end of the week, I would helplessly succumb to four slices of bacon pizza with extra cheese, followed by a generous slice (…or two) of cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

For a long time, I thought something was seriously wrong with me. After all, normal people didn’t do this.

Funny enough, it’s when I stopped obsessing about my eating habits that I stumbled across a real (though perhaps boring) solution for how to stop binge eating.

HOW I STOPPED BINGE EATING FOREVER

As far as I was concerned, I had no power to prevent binge eating. In those moments when my stomach felt like a bottomless pit (even when I technically felt full), willpower wasn’t even a word in my vocabulary. And I didn’t learn to stop binge eating by getting more willpower, believe me.

I also didn’t do it by distracting myself (Hungry? Go paint your fingernails! Then you can’t eat the cookies because your nails will be wet. Yeah, well, tell that to the cookie crumbs lacquered into my hot pink nails…).

Nor did I learn to stop binge eating by instead eating a piece of fruit or cheese or a raw carrot or whatever. If I wanted to binge on brownies, a carrot wasn’t going to stop me. Best case scenario? I end up eating the carrot and then the brownies. There was never once an occurrence when I ate the carrot instead of the brownies.

To be truthful, binge eating was the least of my problems a few years ago. I had acne worse than I did as a teenager. I had crazy (i.e. scary) mood swings, I couldn’t handle stress worth a hoot, and I had insomnia that left me crippled with zombie-like fatigue during the day.

There came a point when I decided enough was enough. I needed some serious health intervention and I needed it yesterday.

That’s when I changed my approach to getting healthy. I bucked against mainstream advice (because all that salad and tofu didn’t seem to be helping much). And in exploring alternative ideas to what constitutes “healthy” I also flushed out the source of my binges.

HOW TO STOP BINGE EATING… THE BORING WAY

So if you can’t stop binge eating, what is my crazy solution? Eat!

Yes, eat. Mostly real food and enough to sustain your body and your activities. And don’t exercise more than you can support with good food and good sleep.

That’s just way too simple, right?

Since back in my binge eating days, I’ve learned that the biggest key to health is… balance. I know, it’s not as exciting as an ancient berry from South America, but it’s the real thing.

I also learned that when I jumped to extremes, my health (mental and physical) suffered for it. And I learned to listen to my body, because not everything they say is “healthy” was the right choice for me.

Did you know… girls who diet are 12x more likely to binge eat? This is not a coincidence!

So I quit dieting and overexercising. I quit restricting food groups and going on restrictive diets. I quit labeling food (and by extension myself) as good or bad. And I quit working out to “work off” last night’s fettuccine alfredo.

All this did not happen overnight. It was a slow (sometimes painful) dance of two steps forward and one step back. But eventually, I was able to strike a pretty comfortable balance of eating well, enjoying a wide variety of foods in moderation, and being active in a way I really enjoy (and not overdoing it).

I knew I was on the right track because I experienced a lot of health benefits in the process.

And something else happened during this time. Without even trying – without even thinking about it – I stopped binge eating.

It didn’t happen all at once. At first, my binge eating episodes just occurred less frequently (like maybe 3-4 times per month instead of twice a week). Then a few weeks would go by without a real binge. Then a couple of months. Pretty soon my all-out binges were few and far between.

Now? I can’t even remember the last time I really binged on something. It’s been that long.

Why? Because I was finally listening to my body and giving it what it needed: plenty of quality food, good rest, and the right amount of exercise. I found my balance.

I really like the motto of Amber Rogers from Go Kaleo: “Eat the food.” I find it funny that the more I tried to control and restrict my eating, the more often I would end up binge eating and feeling out of control.

And the more I paid attention and ate what my body needed to thrive (when it comes to both nutrients and energy), the more binge eating became a thing of the past for me.

BINGE VS. SPLURGE

When someone says to me, “I can’t stop binge eating!” I always want to clarify what a binge really is. Eating a bowl of ice cream (even a big one) is not a binge. Neither is eating a couple pieces of pizza. These are splurges, not binges.

Splurges are totally normal and can be part of eating healthy. I still splurge on a hefty slice of cake or a couple slices of bacon pizza sometimes. (I just don’t eat the whole pizza or cake anymore.)

So remember not to sweat the small stuff and just enjoy your food!

Article By: Elizabeth Walling

How to Get in Touch with Your Emotions

We’re not always encouraged to get in touch with our emotions. We strive to turn a happy face to the world, keeping up the facade displayed on our social media pages. We often feel pressure to put on a front for “likes” so we show people the fun vacations and the pretty food, not the crying baby or the embarrassing work meeting. It’s seems important to show our best selves to others and to appear strong, independent, and upbeat.

We then fall into the trap of comparing our real lives with “highlight reels” of others on social media all while feeling pressure to keep up our own “everything is great” exterior. Sometimes though, these images we portray to others don’t show the whole picture. We might be depressed or have a bad day or lose a job. This all leads to us to potentially feel isolated from other people. So what is the importance of both understanding and sharing our emotions?

How To Get In Touch With Your Feelings
You may be thinking, “OK that’s great, emotional awareness matters, but how do I become more aware?” The following are some suggestions for learning more about your feelings and how to talk about them in helpful ways.

Name The Emotions You Experience.
Often we think of the easy ones, such as anger, happiness, sadness, fear, but as we become adults, our emotions become more nuanced. Learn to identify less commonly named ones, including shock, shame, anxiety, disgust, boredom, amusement, desperation, doubt, etc. Use a thesaurus or search for a mood chart online to give you new ideas.

Learn To Identify Your Feelings Correctly.
We may automatically assume that we are angry if we yell, but it’s possible to cover up feelings of sadness or embarrassment with things that look like anger to make us feel less vulnerable. Take the time to look below the surface symptoms and see what’s really going on underneath.

Track A Particular Emotion Throughout The Day.
Pick a feeling and follow it. Let’s say “joyfulness.” Jot down how many times you feel joyful throughout the day. Write notes about who you’re with, what time it is, where you are, what you’re doing, and how intense the emotion is. This can be a helpful exercise in learning what to embrace or avoid in your daily life to help manage your feelings better.

Push Through And Seek Support When It Seems Difficult.
If we’ve buried our emotions for a long time, it can be very painful to face them. Often it can seem like things are getting worse before we learn to deal with how we feel. Don’t give up before you receive the healing benefits of getting more in tune with yourself! Seek help from trusted friends, counselors, religious organizations, and support groups if it seems too difficult to do alone.

Express Emotions In Healthy Ways.
Once we’ve learned to name and track emotions, we need to learn what to do with them. Understanding our emotions may lead us to have healthy conversations with loved ones. We can share what we’ve learned about ourselves to others, receiving support and providing empathy for one another. Other ways that people deal with emotions include exercising, meditating, prayer, creating or listening to music, writing poetry, painting, or journaling. Find out what helps you to process your emotions, and be as creative as you want!

Pay Attention To Your Body.
Take a moment to pause right now. Take a deep breathe. What does your body feel like right this moment? Often we experience physical sensations that are associated with emotions, and we can learn to recognize our feelings based on our physical symptoms. For example, anger is often felt between the chest and head, while fear is usually felt between the stomach and chest. These sensations can include tightness, numbness, agitation, and nausea. Different people will have different physical sensations so learn what your body is telling you about your emotions.

Is Emotional Awareness Important?
Emotional awareness is an often neglected skill. Some studies show that only 1 in 3 of us has the ability to correctly assess our feelings. This is significant because our emotions usually point towards important truths about ourselves. Our feelings come from our deepest desires, hopes, needs, and goals. If we don’t know what we’re feeling and why, we risk leaving crucial needs and longings unmet, potentially perpetuating a cycle of anger or unhappiness. Keeping feelings hidden can also lead to emotional breakdowns. Imagine a pipe that is blocked, emotions building up like water, trying to get through to the other side. Eventually the pipe will burst, causing chaos. Lack of emotional awareness can also lead to unhealthy ways of coping, such as addiction, overeating, negative relationships, and angry outbursts.

The Myth Of Negative Emotions
A lot of people believe that it’s only healthy to have positive emotions, such as happiness, joy, and contentment, but that negative emotions like fear, anxiety, or sadness are inappropriate. We need to dispel this myth if we are going to get in touch with our feelings. Anger, for example, is not inherently negative. It can show us when we have an unfulfilled need or a frustration with crossed boundaries. A person that feels angry should examine where the anger is coming from so he or she can resolve the issue. Anger becomes a problem only when it is exhibited un-checked, hurting us and those around us. If you’ve watched the Pixar movie Inside Out, you’ll have learned that sadness isn’t always negative either. It can help us be more empathetic, more sensitive to the needs of others. It’s not the emotions that cause problems for us, but the way they fester and burst if we ignore them.

How Can Teenagers Deal With Emotions?
When we’re children, we experience very basic emotions, without many words to express ourselves. The older we get, the more complicated our emotions become. We are eventually able to have multiple feelings at the same time and have a wider spectrum of emotion words to use. When we are teenagers, we are learning how to deal with these new moods. It’s important to remember that our peers are experiencing these same changes. We’re not crazy because we don’t always immediately know why we’re crying or becoming angry. It can help to use some of the above tips, to journal our thoughts, and to talk to a trusted adult who has gone through this before.

How Can Being In Tune With My Feelings Help My Relationships?
Talking to your partner about how each of you expresses different emotions can help you learn to recognize feelings in each other. A person could assume that his partner is happy when she talks a lot because this is how he behaves, but she may actually talk more when she is nervous and uncomfortable. Conversations about emotions can teach people to care better for each other.

We all have emotions every day, even when we do not realize it. They are powerful indicators of our needs, goals, longings, and desires. When we are in tune with them, they can point us in directions of growth so we can reach our full potentials and receive the support we need. Ignoring these feelings may be easy in the moment but can have serious repercussions for our relationships and our mental health. Learning about our emotions can help us be more empathetic people, know our strengths and weaknesses, make better choices, and ask for what we need.

Article by: Jeremy Bergen

What My Dog Taught Me About Self-Acceptance

“Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” ~Lao Tzu

We all have recorded messages playing in our heads, from long ago.

Listen to parents talking to young children. Often the message is less than approving.

“Don’t put that in your mouth!”

“Go wash your face right now.”

“If you keep acting like that nobody will like you.”

“Look at Cindy, how well she’s doing. If you worked harder you could do as well as her.”

Those examples are kind compared to what many people will have heard growing up.

Many of these messages enter our brains before our conscious memories are fully formed. They may be buried somewhere in our minds, but they are real.

Of course, parents have to train young children. That’s part of their job. But not all parents balance their criticism with approval.

So, we often grow up anxious for approval, uncertain of our own worth, always feeling that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us, perhaps feeling more or less unlovable.

This self-critical stance interferes with the warm, loving, mutually accepting, and deeply satisfying relationships we crave all through life.

Are relationships really that important? The Harvard Study of Adult Development followed people for as long as seventy years. Some thrived, some sank.

What was the common factor among those who flourished for decades, in every way? Warm, supportive relationships.

I sucked at relationships as a child. I don’t mean romantic relationships, just friendships. I was the awkward kid who got left out of playground games.

Yet, there was a part of my life that was quite different. It was full of love and joy.

Let me tell you about Jolly.

Jolly was about two feet tall, hairy, with patches of brown, black, and white. For me, it was love at first sight. He was bouncing around frantically, his tail wagging so furiously that it might have fallen off.

I pestered my parents until they agreed to get him for me.

In no time at all, I was experiencing why dogs are called our best friends. Jolly was completely in love with me, judging by his behavior.

If the day had been particularly frustrating for me, Jolly didn’t care. He’d jump on me as soon as I came in the door, tail wagging at dangerous speeds, squealing with delight, trying to lick my face, running up and down the room before repeating the performance, barking with joy, inviting me to play with him.

Sometimes a teacher would tell me off in school.

Jolly didn’t care. To him, I was still the most wonderful person in the world. He would still burst with joy when I got home, bury me in licks, desperate for me to play with him.

Sometimes I would return feeling really low because other kids had been particularly nasty to me.

Jolly would still jump on me when I opened the door. He would still wag that tail dangerously fast. If he could talk, I believe he would be spewing out love poetry to rival Shakespeare.

I didn’t even have to go out of the house for him to find me fascinating and totally lovable. It was enough if I went to the next room and came back. He would still be almost bursting out of his skin with joy at seeing me again.

It was as if he could see something in me that I could not see for myself.

However, it took me decades to digest and fully accept the lesson that Jolly was teaching me.

Medical school taught me the neurological pathways and brain areas that are active during criticism, but I didn’t fully embrace Jolly’s message until some decades later.

For many parents, and for the world, success in life is something that happens in the future of a child. The child grinds out one day after another, chasing that distant glimmer of success.

The child becomes a young adult, and still they’re chasing that distant success. Work hours are long, relationships suffer, tempers are short, nerves are frayed, emotions run high. Still, success remains like a finishing line that’s continually moving away.

The young adult grows toward middle age, perhaps with children by now, and still they’re chasing success. For themselves and now for their children too.

No matter how much they’ve accumulated, there’s always the possibility of accumulating more. Keeping up with the Joneses is an endless game. At the root of it all is the little child’s longing for approval.

“They’ll discover I’m a fraud.”

“If they really knew me they wouldn’t like me.”

“If only I could get that next promotion or close that big sale, people would start respecting me more.”

“If only I did better, I would become truly lovable.”

Scratch under the surface, and there might well be a self-critical little child longing for acceptance.

We experience the stresses and strains of life as burdens that drag us down.

We get annoyed at ourselves for not doing better.

We beat ourselves up for experiencing difficult or unpleasant emotions.

We’re hooked on self-help books and programs because we’re anxious about our flaws.

We long to be rid of our flaws and imperfections, because we believe that will make us more lovable.

What would Jolly say?

“I don’t care. Yes, you need to lose thirty pounds, but right now I love you and want you to know that you are completely worthy of my love.”

“Yes, you could do with twice as much money and a much bigger house, but right now you are already totally lovable.”

“Yes, you could do with fewer of those low moods, less anxiety and less anger, but right now you are already worthy of honor and respect.”

“Yes, you’ve had some messy relationships and screwed up in many ways but right now you are totally worthy of love.”

The more I learned to accept myself with all my flaws and imperfections, the more relaxed I became about difficult emotions and setbacks in life.

The more accepting I became of my own imperfections, the more accepting and loving I became toward others.

The more accepting and loving I became toward others, the more they responded with warmth.

The child that was left out on the playground is now a much more self-accepting person despite his flaws, often a source of love, comfort, laughter, and joy to others. That is fertile soil for warm, supportive relationships.

Supportive relationships, as research has found, are the key to wellbeing now and for decades to come. They help keep your body and brain working well for longer.

At our core, we’re a mess and we’re always falling short of our aspirations. That’s part of being human. It’s okay.

Jolly would want you to know that you are totally lovable, regardless.

Article by: Joe Almeida of Tiny Buddha

How Forgiving Yourself and Others Changes Your Brain

“Be quick to forgive, because we’re all walking wounded.” ~Anonymous

People often behave in ways that we find irritating, annoying, or worse. This can happen especially with people close to us.

They can speak with little consideration for the impact of their words. They can criticize us and pounce on our mistakes. Sometimes they do unfair things that seriously disadvantage or damage us. Or they let us down when we’re counting on them.

All these behaviors can lead to us feeling wounded. The scars can persist for years or even decades. The closer the offenders are to us, the greater the impact tends to be.

Most of us would like others to understand us, to act reliably, and to be approachable when things go wrong. We’d like them to be kind in dealing with our mistakes or offences. We’d like them to understand that we aren’t set in stone, that we aren’t just the sum total of our mistakes.

We deserve a chance to recover and show our better side. We’d like them to be more understanding and put a more favorable interpretation on what we did or failed to do.

However, it can be different when others behave badly. Often, we spend a lot of time and energy going over the way we were wronged, mistreated, disappointed, disrespected, or disregarded.

Dwelling on the perceived wrong kindles the fire of a grudge. The more we dwell on it, the bigger this fire grows.

Can this fire burn us?

When I was in high school, some of the coolest kids formed a band. Everyone wanted to be in that band. I played the piano, so I too wanted to be in it.

One of my closest friends also played the piano, but not as well. It became a bit of a tussle between us. I was chosen, to my delight.

When we started playing gigs, a piano was not always available. So I took to the melodica, a little instrument into which you blow. It has a keyboard.

We started playing gigs, with quite a good response from audiences. Everything was going well, until we were invited to play a gig in a venue right near my home.

The melodica was at the band leader’s house, because we rehearsed there. I asked for it to be brought to the gig.

On the evening of the gig, my bandmates turned up. Unfortunately, the melodica could not be found. Apparently, it had been brought to the venue by the band leader but had disappeared.

This was a bitter blow. I had so looked forward to strutting my stuff before a home crowd. I rushed around to various people who might have a melodica, but could not find one.

The gig happened without me. I was downcast.

Eventually, the real story came out.

The melodica had been brought to the venue. The close friend I mentioned, who also played the piano, had simply taken it away and hidden it.

I was outraged. I felt betrayed, violated, and angry. I felt ready to run my friend over with a large truck.

We didn’t speak for a couple of years. Then I got an apology of sorts. Somehow, things were never the same between us.

I went off to medical school and our paths have never crossed since.

What happens to your brain when you cling to a grudge?

The parts of your brain that specialize in criticism grow more active. They feed on your thoughts about the grudge. The neurons involved lay down more connections, strengthening this response.

The next time someone behaves in a way that you disapprove of, your brain more readily jumps to criticism and judgment.

All that is understandable, you’re not alone in practicing criticism. But there’s a price to pay for this practice.

The same parts of your brain that criticize others also criticize you. You tend to become more unforgiving about your own mistakes. Self-acceptance recedes. It becomes harder for you to like yourself.

Further, this can lead to a cycle of mutual criticism between you and people who matter to you. It tends to weaken the supportive relationships we all need.

A recent study among 5,475 men and 4,580 women aged over 50 showed that a single point increase in negative social support score resulted in a 31 percent rise in the risk of eventual dementia. Negative social support is where you experience a lot of critical, unreliable and annoying behaviors from others, especially people close to you.

What can you do to start breaking this downward spiral of mutual criticism and self-criticism?

First, ask what stresses or problems may have led to the undesirable behavior. Try to find explanations that weaken the impact of the “bad” behavior on your mind. This is as true for self-criticism as for criticizing others.

Perhaps there were circumstances that led to you acting in regrettable ways. If you regret it, don’t wallow in the regret. Find explanations to understand why you did what you did.

Give yourself the gift of forgiveness, strengthen your resolve to do what is good and important going forward, then move on. This same gift of forgiveness may be given to others, recognizing that all human beings are vulnerable to errors or even terrible behavior.

Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation with the offender. Reconciliation is the re-establishment of mutual trust. That requires a further step as part of negotiation.

But forgiveness can proceed regardless of reconciliation and mutual trust.

The more you practice understanding and forgiveness, starting with yourself, the more you strengthen the self-reassuring parts of your brain. These are the same parts that show empathy and compassion to others. They make you more accepting of yourself, with all your flaws and stumbles.

We all have flaws and stumbles. That’s okay. It’s part of being human.

If I could go back to my youth and replay my friend’s apology, I hope I would respond with more understanding. After all, if our positions had been reversed and I’d been blinded by envy, who knows what I might have done.

For a better quality of life right now, with more self-acceptance, and for a lower risk of cognitive decline, try loosening your grip on grudges. And be gentle with yourself when you slip up in this effort. The steering wheel of your life often requires a little time, patience and practice before you can turn it reliably.

I’m still practicing. That’s okay.

Article by: Joel Almeida

4 Things I Needed to Accept When I Was in Transition and Felt Insecure

“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”-  Robert Tew

I want you to picture this. You are standing on a mountain, and in front of you is a taller mountain with a prettier view. Between the mountains is 100,000 foot plunge to the bottom, filled with jagged rocks. You know that you need to make it to that other mountain and that the only way for you to do so is to jump—but for some reason, you cannot move.

This is what transition feels like, especially when you have to make huge leaps into new and unexplored territories.

Recently, I found myself in this very position, paralyzed with fear.  All I could think about was how I was going to go from being a graduate student to being a real adult, working and living in the real world.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t even thinking—I was worrying and putting mounds of pressure on myself to make a move, to act. What’s worse is that in times of transition it seems as though you are being truly tested. 

Personally, the comfort cocoon I created for myself over my college years unraveled. My friends graduated and left to start their lives. All of a sudden, what used to be continuous social outings changed into monthly check-ins.

I was confused as to how I got here. I would look around, hoping that someone would show up and be a source of entertainment. That never happened and I found myself alone.

At first, I didn’t take this as a gift but as a punishment. I wanted to be distracted because if I was, then I wouldn’t have to think about what was coming next. I wouldn’t have to face my greatest fear of being by myself. Luckily, the universe had other plans.

When I first started being alone, my insecurities and doubts came rushing in to keep me company. I was constantly telling myself that I was not worthy, that I was not enough, and that I was not strong enough to make this transition. I doubted my capabilities and everything I’d earned up until that point.

When I would interview for jobs, I’d be interviewing out of fear. I thought the people on the other side of the phone were better than me because they achieved what, at the time, I thought I could not.

I compared myself to others who seemed further along on their life path. I became jealous and angry that I wasn’t as far along as them. I resented myself because I believed I had no life experience. 

Transition scrambles your life up, both externally and internally. I thought I’d resolved my issue of being alone, yet here I was, mistaking aloneness for loneliness. I thought I was confident and sure about myself, yet here I was, questioning the very foundation I’d built. I slammed into my own mental brick wall and then became idle in moving toward the life I desired.

One day, as I was sitting by my space heater drinking hot chocolate, I thought about what was holding me back—what I didn’t want to admit myself. After doing some self-reflection, I realized there were several things I needed to accept. They are as follows:

1. I was scared.

I wasn’t sure and I am still not sure if what I am jumping to is safe or promising. It’s the unknown, but in admitting to myself that I was terrified, I immediately felt lighter because I was no longer wasting time convincing myself that I was not fearful.

2. I don’t have everything figured out, and that’s okay.

I had to tell myself that transitions don’t happen overnight; they happen over days, months, even years. I have plenty of time to discover, to explore, to create, and to decide what my transition will be and how I will get there.

3. I was in the in-between.

In the in-between, you are neither here nor there. You are just in the middle. Think of it as though you are hovering in the space between those two mountains. I used to hate this space, because I wasn’t in control. Yet, in all honestly, you are never really in control. In this space, you have to trust—trust yourself, trust the universe.

The beautiful part about the in-between is that it gives you time to make a plan and to execute it. Taking small steps every day proved to me that I was actively moving toward my desired mountain. I designed a plan that was manageable so I wouldn’t become immobilized again. It made the tasks ahead less daunting.

4. My thoughts could be my prison or my wings.

I struggle with this daily and I “fail” at it a lot. It’s hard to erase negative thinking habits and replace them with positive ones. Then, if you add the weight of your insecurities and doubts, it seems like an impossible feat.

What has helped me the most is taking each moment as it comes. In one moment, I can be completely fine. In the next moment, I can be upset about why I am not this or that, what I look like, what I feel like, why I am wrong or right, etc. In those difficult moments, I remind myself to breathe.

I breathe through my loud judgmental voice, and I acknowledge her presence in my head. I then tell myself that no matter what the circumstances, I am loved, I am protected, and I am safe. Sometimes this works and other times it doesn’t. The point is that I don’t have a clear-cut solution to this issue; I take it day by day.

When it comes to appreciating my aloneness, I have gotten into the habit of not inviting anyone over when I am feeling antsy or I feel like I need company to be okay with myself. I sit with that discomfort, and make myself do an activity I can absorb myself in, like coloring, playing Solitaire, or reading. In doing this, I actually spend time with myself, by myself, for myself.

Everyone’s transition isn’t going to look the same, and it isn’t going to bring about the same issues or ideas. Regardless of what yours looks like, remember that change is the only constant and that transition is a part of change. We must embrace our transition even if it is difficult.

In doing so we face ourselves and we acknowledge the areas we need to grow in, the areas where we are strong in, and the areas we didn’t even know existed. We help heal ourselves into wholeness so when we do finally decide to make that jump, we are not scared about whether we are going to reach the other side.

 Article by: Jada Wan of Tiny Buddha

15 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Work Commute

I never thought I’d ever become a podcast person. No images? No videos? Just a voice talking to you? It sounded pretty bland to me, and I didn’t think it could capture my attention.

That is, until I decided to give one a go. And then another. And I quickly fell in love with them—they were perfect for winding down after a long day, as an alternative to watching TV in bed (and a healthier one in my opinion), and while making my way to and from work, which is quite a long and boring trek for me.

I found myself laughing out loud on public transportation, tearing up at 7 AM in the morning, and telling everyone I knew they had to listen to so and so episode right this second. (In related news, have you heard This American Life’s “Captain’s Log?”) Basically, they’re the perfect mix of entertainment and education—and they’re completely free!

So, if you want to try one out, learn something new to tell your co-workers (hello conversation starters!), and even become better at your job (yes, there are podcasts for that), check out what The Muse team is listening to right now!

1. Fresh Air by NPR

Fresh Air always has great, in-depth interviews, and I love the wide range of people it features on the show. Terry Gross has been interviewing people for so long, so she’s awesome at researching her interviewer and asking them a wide range of questions. She also asks them direct questions (a.k.a., she doesn’t beat around the bush). And her voice is also really soothing to wind down after work. The episode I recommend is with John Krasinski—he talks about his start as an actor, and how he got his break on The Office.

2. Reply All by Gimlet Media

It’s a podcast about the history of the internet, and all the quirky things people have done with it since its invention. I recently listened to a fascinating episode about the inventor of the pop-up ad, and how he feels like he ruined the internet with it.

3. Bill’s Monday Morning Podcast by Bill Burr

If you love stand-up comedy, you’ll like this podcast. It actually makes me look forward to Mondays. It’s like going to the bar with your friend after work and hearing him rant about the stuff going on in the world, be it pop culture, politics, or sports—in a hilarious way. Once in a while his wife Nia will join in and add some good opinions and laughter. There are two episodes each week, Mondays and Thursdays.

4. Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert

I became kind of obsessed with Elizabeth Gilbert after reading her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear—which is all about powering through the challenges of being creative to do great work—and so was thrilled to find out she was starting a spinoff podcast. In each episode, Gilbert is helping an individual figure out how to deal with his or her creative blocks, calling on the likes of Martha Beck and Neil Gaiman for extra inspiration. While the podcast is geared toward artists, I think the advice can be powerful for anyone looking for more creativity or confidence in his or her work!

5. How To Build The Future by Y Combinator

As someone who values building great products, it’s super valuable to hear from other people who have built super valuable products and their views of the world. And as someone who really believes that software is eating the world, it’s super helpful to hear how the people who have built amazing software think about the world around them, and how they were able to build great things. I highly suggest everyone listen to the Mark Zuckerberg episode.

6. Still Processing by The New York Times

This is hosted by two culture writers from the New York Times, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, who talk about pop culture, entertainment, politics, and more. They’re only a few episodes in, but their thoughts about the movie When the Bough Breaks is hilarious and their interview with RuPaul during episode three is so refreshing.

7. Presidential by The Washington Post

This show covers the journeys former presidents took to get into The Oval Office, their personalities, and their decisions while in office. Best of all, the host always asks, ‘What would a blind date with this person be like?’ which is a great way to get insight into what these historic figures were like outside of the public sphere.

8. The Fantasy Footballers by Fantasy Football Podcast

I like this podcast because the guys who run it have a ton of passion for fantasy football and for entertainment. I listen to a ton of podcasts, but this one is different in that the hosts aren’t jaded by the need to put out a set number of shows a week—they’re completely dedicated to their community and to quality production, which goes a long way in a somewhat niche market.

9. Dhamma Talks by Amaravati

I listen to this a few times a week. I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, but Buddhist thought resonates with me a lot. It was initially surprising to me how correct and relevant the teachings of Buddhist monastics are for modern secular life. I suppose we all have the same human mind. Ajahn Amaro (in my opinion) is one of the best!

10. SPONTANEATION by Paul F. Thompkins by Earwolf

Thompkins is an incredibly funny interviewer. The basic format for this show is that he has really funny improvisers, as well as one special guest, to do a long-form improv together. It’s a very fun way to get my mind off the mundane tasks that I sometimes have to do at work. I recommend you check out episode #60 with Jon Hamm.

11. The Limit Does Not Exist by Forbes

This show’s about choosing your path, and why you shouldn’t limit yourself in your career. The two awesome hosts focus on interviewing people they call ‘human venn diagrams,’ who have a foot in more than one industry. Each episode is an inspiring take on expanding your creativity, your curiosity, your skill set, and your goals and ambitions—and they host some pretty amazing people in the career space.

12. Pistol Shrimps Radio by Earwolf

I’ve recently been enjoying this podcast with Matt Gourley and Mark McConville. They do commentary on women’s rec league basketball games in LA for a team called the Pistol Shrimps, and know absolutely nothing about sports—so hilarity ensues. In the last offseason, they called the shots for mini-golf games with the Pistol Shrimps players.

13. Note to Self With Manoush Zomorodi by WNYC

It’s a smart and insightful look at how we use technology and its effect on modern life. There are so many aspects of modern technologies (from phones and iPads to emails) that are only just now beginning to be researched and that so many people don’t understand fully. Things like what’s the deal with crazy privacy policies, or is your phone listening to you? Plus, there are several really great themed episodes about mothers in the workplace (‘Taking the Lead’) and how to stop information overload (‘Infomagical’). And they’re short—20 to 30 minutes long—so perfect for when you’re running an errand or working on a semi-mindless task.

14. Death, Sex, and Money by WNYC

To quote the NPR podcast’s official description, ‘It’s about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.’ It manages to be both incredibly interesting and educational all at once, and I always walk away with a better understanding of other people’s lives. Not to mention, it provides great filler when you’re stuck in a boring conversation.

15. Invisibilia by NPR

I enjoy this podcast because they talk about things that influence everyone’s day to day life but never really stop to think about. The hosts do a great job of looking at the topic from the perspective of science and society. Often, I finish each episode with a different understanding of a previously held assumption or belief. My favorite episode so far was ‘The Problem with the Solution.

And my suggestion? Millennial by Radiotopia—it’s perfect for 20-somethings who are trying to make their way in the world—without falling on their faces.

Article by:  Alyse Kalish of The Muse

15 Self-Care Ideas When Everything Seems Impossible

A lot of people think self-love is selfish or egotistical. I used to believe that I was unworthy of my desires and I didn’t matter. I spent a lot of time taking care of others and even more time trying to fit in and be seen, but the truth? I wasn’t seeing myself.

I was a victim of a lack of self-love and hated who I saw in the mirror. For almost three decades, I was at war with myself. I heard the term “self-love,” but it felt like a buzzword, a “wouldn’t it be nice,” but that clearly was not for me. The idea of loving myself was foreign because I was too consumed with self-hate.

I decided to go on my own personal journey to be more kind, compassionate, and loving toward myself. I called it the “Self-Love Experiment,” which turned into my new book by the same name.

What I discovered in my own experiment is that self-care is the foundation for self-love. At first, saying I love myself felt hard, so I replaced the word love with care. I would say, “I am practicing self-care,” and this led to a beautiful lifestyle where I was able to learn that I am worthy, beautiful, and enough as I am.

If you struggle with low self-esteem or lack confidence, you can turn your self-doubt into self-love by practicing more self-care. Here are fun, totally doable self-care ideas to help you ramp up your self-love quotient.

1. Celebrate the little victories.

Spend some time celebrating how far you’ve already come. The little moments along the way are special, and when you can appreciate them, you will feel more grateful.

2. Forgive yourself.

Are you holding on to anger? Maybe you feel like you should be further along or more on track. Place your hand on your heart, close your eyes, and say, “I am sorry I am so hard on you. I know you are doing the best you can. I forgive you and will be more kind and compassionate to you.”

3. Bring creativity to cooking.

Maybe you’ve been eyeballing that fancy wellness Instagram account or you have marked some pages in your favorite cookbook. Getting creative in the kitchen can help you feel more balanced. Being creative fills a need and deep desire to express yourself. When you do this in the kitchen, you also nourish your insides, and when you do this it is reflected on the outside. A more balanced, healthy, and happy you, coming right up!

4. Learn something new.

Is there a course or book you’ve been wanting to read? Keeping your mind fresh by educating yourself and learning more will help you feel more compassionate toward yourself and others.

5. Make a list of things you love about yourself.

When was the last time you said something nice about yourself to yourself? Most of us have a running dialogue of not being good enough and wanting to change things we dislike about ourselves. Instead of letting your insecurities get the best of you, start to be kind to yourself by listing things you love: whether it’s a body part, intellect, ability, or something else. Do this as often as you can, and soon enough you will feel more free and loved.

6. Do something you’ve always wanted to do.

Book that one-way ticket to Europe. Start penning that book or leave the job you hate. These are all things you might have in your heart but are afraid to act on. Following through on the dreams and desires are important for building self-trust and respect. Go for it; your future self will thank you.

7. Move the way you feel.

Don’t be afraid to have some pep in your step. Get in touch with your inner child—you know, the one who loved skipping down the street, jumping up and down, or twisting and shouting and didn’t care what people thought. Dance and sing like no one is watching!

8. Dance to an upbeat playlist.

Creating a playlist to align with your mood is a wonderful way to uplift yourself. Pick your favorite artist and dance it out for added fun.

9. Have a one-on-one with yourself.

Schedule special you time by asking yourself, “When do I feel like my best self? What am I doing and who am I with?” Schedule time each day to tap into that part of you that feels alive, joyful, and happy.

10. Write a love letter to the pain part of you.

Write a letter to the part of you that is struggling—the part you would like to change—and allow yourself to free write and address what is causing you pain. This will give you more self-compassion and understanding, which can help you heal.

11. Choose something different within your routine.

Get out of your comfort zone by doing something different today. Order something new on the menu, take a different route home, call a friend you haven’t talked to in five years, let yourself follow your heart and be amazed at what happens when you do.

12. Read a good self-love book.

There are some great fall reads and classic go-to’s from self-love authors. Pick a book you’ve always wanted to read and curl up with, even if it’s not self-help, as long as it’s uplifting and leaves you feeling better. Curl up with your favorite furry friend and tea, coffee, or green juice.

13. Create a vision board for your future.

Use Pinterest, vision board apps, or cutup images from magazines to create a vision board, a creative way to dream about the life you want. Vision boards are great for manifesting and attracting whatever you desire because they invite you to actually visualize your lifestyle, focus on what you want, and think about what it takes to get there.

14. Center yourself.

Do you ever get nervous or overwhelmed with self-doubt? Chances are your ego is acting up and in overdrive. To realign with your heart center, the balanced part of you that knows all is well, place your hand on your heart and repeat the mantra, “I am safe and loved. All is well,” or a version of this that resonates with you.

15. Kick-start your day with gratitude.

Start your day with things you appreciate. List them out or simply go through them in your mind. Being in gratitude will help you feel more focused and balanced.

These tips are inspired by Shannon Kaiser’s new book, The Self-Love Experiment: Fifteen Principles for Becoming More Kind, Compassionate, and Accepting of Yourself.

 

 

Why We Push Ourselves Too Hard and How to Work Less

“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” ~Unknown

I was sitting on the beach with my wonderful girlfriend, trying to relax on our vacation in Florida, yet I was racked with anxiety.

We were lying under a large umbrella, taking in the beautiful waves and swaying palm trees, attempting to recover from the past months (and years) of overwork and overstress. But all I could think about was a marketing initiative I was working on for a client.

The more I tried to chill, the more nervous I became. My girlfriend lay peacefully, dozing off occasionally, while I was busy fending off a full-blown panic attack.

Did I hurry back from our beach session to get back to work? That would be crazy, right? Well, it was worse. I pulled out my laptop and went to work right there on the beach.

I was so addicted to my computer and so stretched thin with commitments that I couldn’t even enjoy this highly anticipated vacation with the love of my life. In fact, the only thing I can remember when I look back on this trip is my stress. I don’t remember enjoying the beach or ever feeling present.

When, I got back from Florida, I didn’t feel refreshed at all. I more desperately need a vacation after it than I did before it. Not only had my over-commitment to work prevented me from enjoying my vacation, it led me to operating at below my best for many months following.

Why did I do this to myself? It was a combination of things. I was insecure and using money to mask it. I was correlating my self-worth with the amount of money I had in the bank. I worked more to distract myself from my own anxieties. But most of all, I was working myself to death because of how the human brain works.

The Psychology of Over-Working

The benefits of working less are counterintuitive, but well documented. There are the obvious benefits—such as having more time for hobbies, friends, family, health, or even working on bigger and better projects—and then there are the less obvious benefits, such as improving creativity and productivity.

Tim Ferriss’ proposition of a “four-hour work week” is attractive to our rational thinking brains, but in practice, it’s surprisingly difficult to work less.

The reason we work more than we need to—sometimes to the extent of actually hurting our productivity, health, or personal relationships—may lie in how humans have evolved.

In their book “Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters: From Dating, Shopping and Praying to Going to War and Becoming a Billionaire–Two Evolutionary Psychologists Explain Why We Do What We Do,” Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa postulate that our brains are shaped by evolutionary pressures to survive and reproduce. We’ve adapted to recurring problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

“Our human nature is the cumulative product of the experience of our ancestors in the past, and it affects how we think, feel, and behave today,” Miller and Kanazawa write. People who showed no anxiety to threats would not have taken the appropriate steps to solve the problems and therefore may not have survived.

In his book “Evolutionary Psychology: Neuroscience Perspectives Concerning Human Behavior and Experience,” William J. Ray, describes how these evolutionary adaptations can actually hinder us from properly interpreting reality:

“Consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg; most of what goes on in your mind is hidden from you. As a result, your conscious experience can mislead you into thinking that our circuitry is simpler than it really is…our modern skulls house a Stone Age mind.”

In the context of work-life balance, our brains didn’t evolve to determine exactly how much we need to work. Our brains simply want us to survive and reproduce, and working more seems to contribute to those end goals. Our brain’s anxiety about survival and reproduction motivates us to work more, even though it’s not usually in our best interest over the long-term.

Similarly, our brains crave sugar because in the past, calories were scarce and we needed to eat as much as possible to account for extended periods without food.

Sugar has a high calorie density, so it was very economical for our ancestors. As a result, many people today have a tendency to overeat unhealthy foods, even though we don’t face a problem of the scarcity of food like we did before the agricultural revolution. Unfortunately, sugar contributes to a number of health problems over the long-term, but our brains don’t understand that.

Our brains think working excessively to gather resources contributes to survival and reproduction. But it doesn’t know how to moderate. More work doesn’t always lead to more money, let alone a more fulfilling life. At its worst, excessive work can lead to burnout, depression, panic attacks, and a lack of meaningful relationships.

Here are four signs you may be working to the point of your own demise:

  • Working far beyond what is needed despite the risk of negative consequences
  • After reaching a goal, you immediately set another more ambitious one
  • Refusing to delegate work, despite the opportunity cost of doing the work yourself
  • Creating more work that doesn’t add value in order to avoid feelings of guilt, anxiety, insecurity, or depression

To be clear, there are benefits to working hard. Working more can help you get more done, and, assuming you are doing the right work, that can help you make more money. And there are times when anxiety is rational and you legitimately need to work more in order to survive. But more often than not, working too much can do more harm than good.

The counterintuitive reality is that working more does not always mean working productively if it means you’re going to burn out.

Simple But Hard Choices

We have a choice about how to deal with working too much. Like so many other challenges, there is the simple but hard solution, and a complex but easy solution.

For your health, the simple but hard solution is to eat more healthy food and less unhealthy food. This solution requires discipline, but it doesn’t cost money, and it’s proven to work. The complex but easy solution is to pay for the latest diet products.

The simple but hard solution to workaholism is to work less. This means saying “no” to unnecessary projects and responsibilities. However, I call this the hard solution for a reason. First, it would be a bruise to your ego to admit you can’t handle something. Second, it requires introspection and change in order to address underlying anxieties or insecurities that may be the impetus for pathological working habits.

Fear or frustration with executing on the simple solution incentivizes us to change course. So we add complexity.

These complex but easy solutions include productivity apps, time management processes, or even prescription drugs. They can help us eek out a couple more units of productivity on a given day, but they often have negative side effects over the long term, and more notably, they enable us to avoid blaming ourselves or putting in the hard work of conquering our anxieties and insecurities.

These solutions are like playing whack-a-mole—they only solve the surface level symptoms. James Altucher provided an apt analogy in writing about the power of saying “no” to bad opportunities:

“When you have a tiny tiny piece of sh*t in the soup it doesn’t matter how much more water you pour in and how many more spices you put on top. There’s sh*t in the soup.”

Often times, continuing to work excessively, even while using the latest and greatest productivity apps, only leads to burnout, which results in an extended period of low productivity, or, worse, an unfulfilling life, void of meaningful relationships or even physical and mental health problems.

How to Work Less, Survive, and Prosper

Your brain doesn’t know or care that working less won’t prevent you from surviving or reproducing in modern times.

It doesn’t know how much money you have in your bank account or how many hours you need to work in order to retire in thirty years.

It definitely doesn’t care about helping you achieve higher ambitions like finding love or having fun on weekends.

You feel anxious about working less because your brain only cares about surviving and reproducing.

But we’re not slaves to our lizard brains. The idea that working less can help you accomplish more requires some critical thinking. However, with awareness of how our brains work, we can make decisions that are healthier and more productive.

So, how you can you counteract your brain’s adaptive impulses? I’ll share two strategies that have worked for me.

First, know your priorities. Every time you say “yes” to more work you’re saying “no” to the other aspects of your life that you value. By taking inventory of your list of priorities, and where work lies on that list, you can make decisions that will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Second, address the underlying issues. Oftentimes we work to avoid thinking about our insecurities or shortcomings. Or, we think we need to have more money in order to be loved. I’ve been guilty of both of these.

Once I gained awareness of these issues, it was easier to make healthier decisions about my work. I worked to conquer my anxiety instead of making it worse by burying it in work, and I’ve dispelled the myth that I’m not worthy of love unless I have massive amounts of wealth.

Since doing this work, I’ve said no to many great opportunities in order to keep my life in balance. It’s difficult at the time, but I’m healthier and happier for it.

It may sound idealistic to work less, but if it can help your health, productivity, and life isn’t it worth a shot? If it doesn’t work for you, keep in mind that there will always be more work to do!

Article by:  Michael Fishbein of Tiny Buddha

5 Truths To Remember When You Feel Like You Are Not Enough

We all live with moments, days or weeks of self-doubt.

These are times that make us feel inadequate and over-conscious of our long list of flaws. They’re occasions that make us question our purpose, our image or our identity, forcing us to wonder if we just aren’t enough.

The frequency in my moments of self-doubt has increased since putting my thoughts out into the world in writing. If I did not receive the feedback I desired, I immediately started questioning my purpose and my goals and harping on whether or not people were just perceiving me as strange. I started a negative spiral of focusing too much on where I fell short while comparing that list to where others seemed to flourish.

I quickly realized that these emerging insecurities would break me down if I didn’t stand up to them.

I recently read my results on a personality inventory. It told me that I am sensitive (I knew this) and that I often base my perceptions of myself through how I feel others perceive me. This hit home not because I felt it was unique to me, but because I hadn’t realized before the power of the key word: perception.

Since then I have identified a simple fact: it is my own negative thinking that hinders me. I am the one who attaches meaning to a rejection, a comment or a lack of traffic on my articles. I am the one who keeps taking things personally. I am the one attacking myself for not succeeding as quickly as I would like.

Since realizing this, I have learned how to replace that negativity with self-encouragement, a dash of harsh reality and words of kindness.

Here are some things I have told myself to snap out of it:

1.  If we believe that we are only on this Earth for a limited time, then who cares if people think we are weird?

At the end of the day, what are we living for if we aren’t fighting to be the best version of ourselves, if we aren’t pushing the envelope and shoving ourselves into situations where discomfort is all encompassing? I am not going to get buried 6 feet under or have my ashes thrown out to sea without knowing that I made some kind of name for myself. It’s not happening. If death is the biggest thing to fear, someone thinking I’m weird pales in comparison.

 2. F*&k it.

If I’m living authentically, if I’m riding my train straight into a place that feels right for me, I’m going to keep riding. There are going to be people or places or moments along the way that make me feel like I’m not good enough and that is okay. As long as I stay true to who I am, as long as I keep working to grow and learn and try— I will be ahead of the game.

3. So what if someone seems to be having a better time than me?

I have gone through periods of comparing myself to others. Individuals who appear to be living a life I would rather have, who are chasing their dreams with fearless relentlessness and trekking out into the unknown to vibe with whatever comes up. I now fight this with a blunt, ‘make more of your time then!’ or a ‘keep pushing until this life feels like the blessing it is supposed to be.’

4. I count my own blessings.

I remember that it could be so, so, so much worse. I snap myself out of it because I am pretty damn lucky. I remind myself of my talents, accomplishments, loved ones and life experiences. I fight against drowning in my weaknesses by soaring with my strengths.

5. I remind myself that I am enough.

I will continue to be enough no matter what I am pursuing, who I am with, where I am going, or what I am fighting for. I am enough because I say so. I have power over my thoughts and my self-image and that is enough.

I will continue to remind myself of these things when those moments of doubt inevitably creep back in again. But they won’t stay around for long—they have no place in my happy heart. They have no place in yours either.

Live your authentic life, pursue your dreams and remind yourself over and over again that you are enough just the way you are. You rock out at things I could only be in awe of and the same goes for me. Use your talents, find your voice, grab the reigns and take off.

Written by: Via Alissa Lastras