Tag Archives: struggles

Practicing Mindfulness

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Something I’ve found very helpful to combat anxiety and negativity is a concept called mindfulness.   Mindfulness is acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, and then doing something to help process the emotion, thought or feeling.

I use this in several ways.  If I’m feeling resentful towards someone, I take a minute and try to figure out why this is, and then I try to change my attitude.  I read somewhere that resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  I’ve found this to be true.  Resentment is not compatible with good mental health.

I also use this when I have an anxiety attack.   My anxiety attacks always have some sort of physical aspect, so I try to accept these physical symptoms (struggle to breathe, dizziness, coughing, whatever) and then remind myself  that 99.9% of the time they will go away if I stop panicking.   After I’m calm, I then try to determine what exactly caused the anxiety.  For example, traveling triggers anxiety in me because following my daily schedule makes me feel safe.   It is also a trigger for me because I feel as if I have to be on my best behavior because I’m seeing people I only see once or twice a year.   To combat this stressful thought pattern, I create a little mantra.  For example, something like, people’s opinions don’t define me, or changes of plan aren’t dangerous.

This concept has truly changed my life.   Mindfulness keeps my anxiety from becoming debilitating and it also helps me not dwell on negative feelings.    I have a choice about which thoughts to invite in and which ones to shut out.

The Perks of Being Alone

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High-school is supposed to be a time of friendships and partying, but for me, it isn’t.  I’m pretty much a loner, though I never tried to isolate myself.

I was like anyone else, dreaming of going on my first date at sixteen, going out with friends every weekend, all that we associate with teenage years.   But this didn’t happen, despite my best efforts.

I joined groups.

I tried to be likable.

I got in, somewhat, but not quite.

Not enough to be asked to go places on the weekend.

Not enough for the person to call me instead of me calling them.

I used to berate myself, wondering why I could never fit in.  I cried.  I used to look at acquaintance’s social media and all the social, fun things they do and feel anger, a deep, resenting anger.  I hated them for not including me.

So, I watched the world go on, without me, from the outside.  Then I started living.

I stopped being angry. I stopped pining for what I don’t have and started appreciating what I do have.  I became friends with me.  That’s who I’ll be taking everywhere I go, no matter what friends come my way, so I figure I might as well like her.   And when I stopped resenting, I realized there are some perks of being alone.

 

Let me explain.  

This time has been a time of a lot of personal growth.   I’ve learned a lot about me, and had time to give myself some time to breathe, to observe the world before I plunge into it.   When I look back at the girl I was, I wonder how she’d fare with the social life she dreamed of.  She was naïve, and insecure, immature.  She was unprepared for the demands of having a social life.

 

So what have I been doing?   Lots of things.    

I started playing guitar about two years ago.    I’ve been able to give it 100% since I have the time to invest in it.   It’s been a lot of hard work, but it is well worth it.

I’ve gotten really serious about my writing.  I’ve read many how-to-write books and practiced a lot, in all styles, from essays to fiction.   Right now, I’m writing my first novel, in addition to this blog.

I’m learning how to learn with my learning struggles.  This is a life-long journey, so I might as well start young.  I’ve realized that when I take the time to learn how I learn, I really can do it.

I also learned to knit, something I’ve wanted to learn for a while now.  Right now, I’m making my first knitted sweater.   I’m also experimenting with sewing clothes for myself because I rarely find clothes that fit or flatter me in the stores.

I’ve become friends with my mom, my dad and my sisters.   They’re my squad.   They’re who I spend my Friday nights with and my weekends.

I’ve learned to see all this time in my life as a blessing, not a curse.  To quote a cliche, I’ve bloomed where I was planted.  Yes, I’d like friends.  Sometimes I still feel envy when I see my Instagram feed, but it is passing.   It doesn’t consume me like it used to.  Besides, pictures on social media are such a fickle thing to judge one’s success on.  What does three hundred likes really mean?   And just cause you smile and have friends, who knows if you’re really happy?  A life can’t be explained through a few pictures on social media because how can a picture show the growth of a person over a year?  Or the measure of your maturity, or the worth of your thoughts and ideas?   The truth is they can’t.

So don’t feel sorry for me.  I’m content right where I am.   I’m not depressed or angry or bitter anymore.  I’m okay.  Maybe one day, I’ll get these friends I’ve always dreamed of, but for now,  I’m happy where I am, with the company of myself.

Accept Yourself

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I’m dyscalculic.

I learn slowly.

I need a lot of repetition to understand things.

I struggle to process the world around me.

I fight depression and anxiety.

I’m clumsy and forgetful.

I become overwhelmed easily.

 

This is who I am.

Yes, these traits are frustrating, but there is an upside to all of this as well.

 

I’m creative and passionate.

I’m curious and I want to learn.

I understand complex ideas.

I can be articulate.

I think deeply and feel intensely.

I’m empathetic.

I’m intuitive.

I try.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It can be easy to forget this, and see only the flaws. I’m trying to accept myself and be at peace with who I am.  This is a process. I find it frustrating that I learn slowly and I need so much repetition, but this is how I learn.  This is okay.  I need to give myself extra time to learn and process.

People misunderstand me. People criticize me.  Yes, it’s painful.  It’s confusing.  It’s frustrating.

 

Don’t misunderstand accepting yourself

with giving yourself excuses to wallow in weakness.

 

There is a difference. Let me show you.

I wanted to play guitar, but I struggle to memorize, have no natural sense of rhythm and I believed that I could never learn to read music.

So it seems like I shouldn’t play an instrument, right?  No, it means I’m going to have to compensate for my weaknesses.

Will it be a painfully slow process? Yes.

Will I learn?  Yes, eventually.  Maybe even learn, forget and relearn.

Because of my poor memory, I’ll always have to have my music in front of me when I play, even though it seems like it should be memorized after playing it hundreds of times.  I forget chords often, so I look at my chord chart, however many times I need.

So what?

The bottom line is I can play guitar.

I do this because playing music makes me happy.  Yes, I learn slowly, but I am learning.  My only other option is to never learn anything and I don’t like this option.

Does learning slowly mean I’m wallowing in weakness?  Are compensations for the way I process information ‘crutches’?

I don’t think so.

Here’s another example.  I write, despite the fact I can’t spell, despite the fact I’m not good at remembering grammar rules, and I struggle to organize my thoughts into writing.

You know how I do it? I’m not afraid to ask for help.  I have my friends and family proof read for me, to catch grammar and organization issues.

 

I’ve realized that don’t have to be all things for myself and this is okay.

 

I know people say, “In the real world, you won’t have help,” or in the “In the real world, that’s a crutch,” or “in the real world, you need to be independent.”

This is a lie.

In the real world, people are meant for each other.  We aren’t meant to rely only on ourselves. Let people help you.  It’s good for you and it’s good for them.

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So, don’t try to climb the tree because that’s not what you were made for.

Get in the water.

Be a fish.

Blessing in weakness…

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She felt the familiar tightening in her chest.

Her breaths came in uneven and difficult gasps.

Her blue eyes were fearful and frantic.  She looked around her as she tried to breathe slowly and evenly.  But the tightness did not subside.

She took a deep breath from her inhaler and attempted to quell the thoughts of death that were gathering rapidly- involuntarily, in her mind.  She grew more panicked. The inhaler seemed to have no effect on her breathing.

Realizing this, she quickly put the nebulizer pieces together and turned the machine on. The nebulizer droned sullenly, methodically.  Her mind raced.

She was filled with shame.  And guilt.

Her scattered thoughts were not at all comforting.  Why am I so weak?  Her thoughts violently rebelled against her struggles and her suffering.

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She was young, passionate, and full of aspirations, yet here she was, trapped in her own body.  All her desires and hopes had seemed to fade around her.

Almost instinctually, her thoughts drifted towards God. The thoughts were undeveloped, yet, she was turning to God.  She was praying, though no words were ever formed.

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She breathed slowly and deeply.  She felt a wave of peace through her.

She understood that her suffering would never completely dissipate, but she felt a sliver of hope.  She smiled, though somewhat sadly, realizing resignedly that this is who she is- weak and delicate, but not hopeless.

She knew God would provide, though sometimes she would not feel his presence intensely.

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Sometimes his voice would simply be a feeling of peace or hope, helping her in her time of need……..encouraging her to go on.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”    -Philippians 4:6-7