Chapter 2: Taking Action
In my last entry, I mentioned my current struggle with the toxic relationship I am in with myself. It took me some time to truly understand what it meant to be in a toxic relationship with yourself, but once I was able to identify it I went straight to finding tricks and solutions to conquer this painful problem.
For me, this is a PRESENT issue, so I have not completely come out on the other side of it to know the perfect answers to what works for me and what doesn't. In my last post I mentioned the 3 ways that I was going to face my toxic relationship: replace critiques with positivity, take back my power, and spend extra time with God. So here is what I have been practicing thus far to ensure that:
1. I started "thankfully meditating"
I knew I needed to find a way to take the critical voice in my head by the throat. The goal, that I stated in my last post, was to return each self critical thought with a positive attribute about myself. But sometimes it does not come that easy right away, so I decided I would start by being thankful. When I feel down or homesick I try my best to begin meditating on my breath and things I am thankful for.
From: "I am homesick. This place is so different."
To: "Lord, even though I am not home, thank you for placing me in a beautiful area where I can meet You in creation." The autumn leaves are no joke here in New Jersey!
From: "This is too much! This is too hard! I'm freaking out...guna run away and have a panic attack, now."
To: "Deep breath in...hold it...aggressively exhale. Repeat. I can do this...I can do anything. I CAN DO ANYTHING."
From: "I feel rejected. Nothing is a good fit for me. I am complicated."
To: "God, even though I feel like crap that I am still looking for the right job I am thankful that I have so many abilities that you've gifted me with that I can hone in on when your timing is right."
From: "I feel lost and unhappy."
To: "Breath in- 2-3-4 and out-2-3-4. I am not unhappy I am just uncomfortable."
2. I stopped searching for approval
Obviously, there's many ways we hope to gain approval. I am going to start with physical appearance because I am a girl and we struggle with that crap all the time. It totally sucks but that's the fallen world we live in. However; I have found some small tips that have helped my confidence come back TREMENDOUSLY.
- I stopped asking my husband "how do I look"
It seems like such a normal thing to ask your husband "how do I look?", "I like this dress...but what do YOU think?", "Do you like my hair this way?" You get the point.
I mean, yeah, we love our husbands' and appreciate their input but like WE HAVE GOT TO STOP ASKING THOSE SILLY QUESTIONS!!
What do those questions even accomplish? An approval or compliment that we don't even end up believing anyway?! It is honestly laughable when you think about it.
If they compliment us on their own then thats awesome! But it is not what we should be after when strutting that new dress WE chose and love. We should compliment ourselves and if someone else compliments us then that is JUST a bonus.
- I don't let myself get overly inspired anymore
This tip is about the "life" approval. It is nothing we have not heard before. It is the basic social media purge tip that many people have suggested recently, but very little of us listen to the advice, for some reason. I am telling you...YOU HAVE TO FILTER WHAT YOU LOOK UP TO. I filtered through all of the accounts that I followed for "inspo" reasons and only kept the ones that truly benefited me and didn't make me feel anything negative about myself. I am one of those people that gets inspired and will lose nights of sleep making it happen. I like to call this problem "over-inspired". It's that feeling you get when you are looking at someones feed and feel a sense of unhealthy inspiration. The kind of inspiration that surpasses motivation and morphs into comparison peppered with self-doubt.
You don't have to dislike someone to unfollow them. Maybe it just means you need a break from what that account is making you feel. That's okay!! YOU have the power to control what you look at and what comes into your mind.
- I stopped feeling guilty
This is an issue that I have been working on for a loooooooooong time. If you are a person that habitually deals with guilt then you know that it is a bitch to work through. I would simulate approval with other peoples' emotional comfort towards me and my decisions. I hate disappointing people and I take on that disappointment way too deeply. What I had to learn was that just because someone doesn't approve of my decisions that doesn't mean that I have to feel bad for making them if they are right for me.
3. I started exercising more
I am a health driven person that likes to stay active, but when I am dealing with something internal I have found it quite satisfying to kick my own ass, if you will. Best way to do that is by vigorously working out and taking it to the next level. Not only does it make you feel strong and accomplished but it also helps to detox emotions. I like to think of it as sweating out my feelings.
4. I put the phone down
I always had this theory that being on my phone so much was ruining my ability to think clearly. Having that constant option of distraction is like a pacifier. When you feel something that you don't want to feel...grab the phone. If you have a task you don't want to finish...grab the phone for a break. If you're not in the mood to face bad thoughts...distract distract distract some more. It is so not healthy. How the heck am I suppose to filter through ANYTHING if I am constantly soothing and multitasking with my stupid phone!?
Blogger or not, I don't care, I refuse to be on my phone 24/7 to keep up a certain brand for an approval. This is MY brand I will run it how I see fit. If anything, I am hoping that this will show other people that you can run a business and a blog WITHOUT compromising your health and sanity. Cool, you are on your phone all day to grow your following so you can die a slow slow mental death. Sounds worth it!
Anyway, turns out my theory was correct. I feel so much more clear headed it's almost stupid. I can finish a full thought now! Whoda' thunk it?! Now I only use my phone during certain hours and check it once in a while to make sure I didn't miss anything crucial. If not, back on the counter it goes. If you can't be a person without your phone YOU AREN'T A WHOLE PERSON.
4. I created emotional distance
I almost did not write this one down. This is the step that I am currently still conflicted about. In my opinion, it has been a good thing and a bad thing. Or maybe it's just a bad thing and good can come from it, I don't know.
Once I identified how much of my own self-talk stemmed from feeding off of people and situations around me, the only thing I knew how to do in that moment to defend myself was to shut down and push people away. "I am fighting for myself at the moment, so I need you, your emotions, and your opinions to go away." Looking back, I feel like that's what my subconscious was saying. I wanted nothing that anyone said to me to matter more than what I was saying to myself. Not anymore.
Coincidentally, it was around that time both Johnny and I were spending time apart due to our back to back business and leisure trips. With that, it was also very difficult. I was going through something huge within myself and feeling alone. I did not have him to to distract me, I didn't have him around to calm me down if I got homesick, and ultimately I didn't have him around to reassure me of myself. But I needed him to not be around for me to heal and grow the way I needed to.
By the time we were both reunited I had been through hell and back with myself. I thought I would fall into his arms a big huge mess for him to clean up, but I wasn't - I was a completely new person by that time. I was happy to see him because I was happy to be together- not because I needed him. I was stronger then how he had left me and I did it myself.
Today, to be honest, I still keep him and everyone else at some sort of distance. I think maybe it is out of fear of losing my power again, or not wanting to need anyone to feel nontoxic towards myself. I don't want to go back to that place, ya know? I am still a work in progress.
I hope that all of this vulnerable word vomit is going to resinate with someone and liberate them. You are worth fighting for...and honey, only YOU are going to fight for you the way you need to be fought for. Not your mom, not your husband/boyfriend, not anyone on your Instagram feed. Just you.