How to Deal with Strong Emotions

Design the life you want by regulating the emotions you have. I have learned that my strong emotions are not me, they are a part of me but not necessarily who I am. I know what it feels like riding waves of anxiety. I have developed strategies for myself over time to deal with the paradox of my emotions and to get to feeling better. I don’t stuff my emotions anymore and I don’t listen to people who try to tell me to just get over it. I respond to my emotions and my needs as they arise. Pushing your emotions to the side over time and suppressing emotions lead to destructive behaviour. Emotions need to be resovled and processed as they come up. Stress needs to be dealt with. We want our bad feelings to go away so that we can get on with our lives, we don’t want to think about our feelings and distract ourselves. When we distract ourselves from our emotions we end up engaging in destructive lifestyle behaviours, like drinking, gambling, media addictions, just to name a few, to deal with the suppressed emotions.

Avoidance strategies lead to more problems over time. These strategies perpetuate worse behaviour. Resisting and suppressing your anxiety is not the answer. It is exhausting being stuck fighting your feelings. You can overcome these. Here are some strategies I use:

  1. Don’t judge your emotions as good or bad. If you think bad emotions are uncomfortable and need to be escaped, stop that! You need to understand that just because your emotions feel bad, they are not necessarily bad for you, they are indicators that can lead you to make lifestyle or relationship changes if need be. Don’t judge your emotions let them guide you.
  2. Don’t stuff your feelings. Don’t distract or avoid feeling your feelings. Muscle tension, anxiety or nausea, are examples of stuffing your feelings. Don’t fight the body sensations that are coming. Start to be gentle with yourself. Be open to emotions. Feel the feelings.
  3. Don’t negotiate. Bad things happen. Don’t try to plead before the universe that life is unfair. Unfairness is part of life, accept what is in your life. Bad things and good things are parts of being human. Accept what comes.
  4. Don’t shame yourself. Don’t force yourself to be happy when you aren’t. Don’t be ashamed about your bad feelings. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings.
  5. Don’t catastrophize. If you feel down or feel bad don’t make it worse by spiralling into a freak out story. Stop the internal chatter and the worry. Don’t give your internal worry monologue any depth or weight.
  6. Stop checking on your bad feelings. Don’t hyperfocus on negative or bad feelings. Your brain will make that feeling louder. Focus on positive feelings. Don’t validate your negative feelings. Feel them and let them go.
  7. Don’t distract yourself from your feelings. Don’t run away from the imaginary monster that you think is chasing you. Don’t be afraid of the feeling. You will not get stuck in that feeling. The feeling will pass and you will feel better once the feeling has been processed.


These are some of the strategies that I use to process strong emotions. I hope this helps as you navigate your life. Good luck to you and your healing journey. It is a long one but a wonderful one.

Trust

For many years I grappled with the concept of trust. How do I trust myself, my decisions, my outlook on life, my perceived reality? How do I trust others? These questions loom over me constantly. I recently started unpacking my trust journey. I am acknowledging the defense mechanisms I have set up around myself that hinders my ability to trust. The protector part of me that stands in front of me, guides me, through discerning judgements, critical analysis of people and situations and feeds me a constant stream of negative fear. I have become aware of the importance of trust; it is a fundamental steppingstone for development and growth. And most importantly for true forgiveness.

Trust by definition is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. I have always been suspicious of anything that is too reliable or true. I am cynical of everyone. My trust was non-existent. If I can’t control it, it cannot be trusted. The protector in me kept me from trusting, so I controlled and judged. I craved for a better way of being and showing up in the world. I had to unpack trust. 

I know that humans are fallible and need space to make error. I didn’t allow anyone space to be human in my life. It just hurt too much. I am unforgiving because I don’t trust. How many times have I finalized and cut off a relationship simply out of fear, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and fear of the unknown. Trust is love. I think I needed to learn that the trust I gave to myself was the love I gave to myself, and that was enough to expand outwards. Forgiveness and love are bred from trust. There was a lot of forgiving I needed to give to myself first.

I believe the walls we build around our hearts is the trust we are unable to extend to the world. Fear, painful events in our lives and chronic stress dampen trust over time. Trust is simply a leap of faith to try again and again despite the hurt we face over and over again. There is no real escape from the heartbreak we all ultimately face, and will continue to face, simply because humans are complex and fallible creatures. We are all capable of inflicting serious pain and when we decide to be distrustful, the suffering only multiplies. 

Over the years, I have built layers of judgement of myself and others that festered into cynicism and a negative outlook. I have internalized a lot of pain and practiced years of self-sabotage. Along with not trusting anyone I also did not trust myself. I didn’t trust that I was able to show up in the world in a positive way. That my life was important, that I am able to contribute in a meaningful way, that I had permission to fill space in the world. Today, I see how important trust is in creating the world that connects me with the rest of my community. To practice the life I truly want, I need trust whole heartedly and release any expectations. Despite what shows up in my life, I want to choose trust every day. As I embrace trust, the protector part of me settles down, becomes more still and walks by me, not in front of me, watching carefully, and no longer getting in the way of what is the potential of a beautiful and meaningful life. With trust I am able to form new relationships, new ways of being, seeing and living. 

Trust. 

Honesty

Let’s be honest. Does that really exist? When having an honest conversation with yourself, do you know if it’s the truth or a lie? I think of how many times I have lied to myself to soothe or cope, and now, I am seeing that other people are doing the same. Being honest, and really getting to your core is hard work, like thinking and solving complex problems. I don’t know how many times in a day I lie to myself, but I am aware of it and sometimes this scares me.

To get to the bottom of a truth, I like to be objective. I know that my subjective feelings will always take me on a labyrinth of emotions leading to nowhere, so I parse out the facts. This isn’t enough however, because others lie to soothe and cope to themselves and others, so this makes everything complicated and difficult to piece together. Facts may not be facts at all, and so what is left to do is basically throw away all expectations, judgements, and let situations be as they are. This doesn’t include any disrespectful or inappropriate/abusive behaviour from others just simply what comes, let it come. 

I grasp for situations to be different. I replay scenarios, wishing my past would be different, the people in my life different, and this is truly the antithesis of honesty. This is La La land. La La land is where fantasies live. The rose coloured glasses, the wishful thinking of what “could have been” or wish “could be”. Regrets, resentment, judgement and yearning is a place where no one should live. It is a black hole. It leads to bitter land.

There is nothing I can do about my past and definitely cannot control everything that will happen to me, and if I am to accept this notion, than I am living honestly. All the events of my past, and the characters in it, are my story to own and these are my facts to keep and accept. The acceptance of my facts I struggle with, but I know I will get there. I remind myself that no matter how many times I don’t want to accept my story, it is still mine to keep, forever, and I carry it either heavily by resisting acceptance or light, when I have an abundance of acceptance. Some days are heavy. This tug of war is what brings me closer to me. As long as I am still pushing closer to acceptance, I get closer to my truth. The honesty that I seek, I look for in other people, I rarely find it, because I am struggling to find it in myself. The closer I get to my honest self the closer I get to the life that I want. As I try to find a way to live in truth, putting action to every value in my life, I struggle to find the motivation to keep living in an honest way without soothing/coping and lying to myself. I don’t always encounter the support and likeminded community to realize this lifestyle preference. Despite all of this, I won’t give up in finding a way.

One thing is for sure. When you do lie to yourself you know it. Your body knows it, your mind knows it, and definitely your heart knows it. The consequences of living in dishonesty is that it will manifest in a negative way, in your life, one way or the other.

Living your truth and living in honesty is not easy. Let go of expectations, judgements and grasping. Let life take you where it moves you without regret. Things happened to you, and move on. Life is today, not yesterday and not tomorrow, and it is worth the effort to make every day as amazing as possible. Even when you don’t feel like it.

How to Gain Clarity

Feeling inspired or generating insight has always been a challenge for me. I am prone to negative self-talk, and ruminate situations to the point of anguish. These habits inhibit my ability to gain clarity. In trying times, when the wind is taken out of my sails, and I am burnt out I struggle to find a positive perspective. This past year the coronavirus pandemic has been one big rollercoaster ride from hell, the unexpected turns conjured up feelings of fear, anxiety and distress.

It is difficult to feel secure, when life seems out of control, situations swinging from one extreme to the other. Finding clarity in a hellish, vague situation is not easy, but it is doable. I have found that even in my worst moments there is something to be learned or gained. Clarity for me is not a destination, it is a process. When I need some clarity, I don’t focus on one specific area of my life, person or situation, rather I open up completely and allow my subconscious to lead me.

It is my negative internal chatter that keeps clarity at bay. It is the unnecessary unsolicited advice from others, competing interests, manipulative people and so much more that blurs my focus. The more I practice quieting the chatter, silencing the noise through meditation, getting lost in a hobby or developing a plan for self-development, it is then that I find that clarity comes to me. It shows up in my life in very unusual ways, at unexpected times and helps me make grounded decisions based on common sense rather than rash emotions. I have developed habits for myself that keep me collected when I need perspective. It is important for me to stay clear, so I am able to thrive and live in reality rather than slip into escapism.

3 habits that help gain clarity:

  • Focus on what you can control 

This is one of my favorite tools in my wellness box. It does wonders for people like me, that ruminate every scene in life a million times over. When I focus on what I can control, I am able to stop the “what if” scenarios in my head. These scenarios are energy draining and a waste of time. I also like to make lists. When it is needed, I like to weigh my options, such as things like a pro vs cons or a likes vs dislikes list. When I focus on what I can control, I allow my process to finding clarity an easier path. My subconscious is able to focus on what I know, and what I can do, rather than confuse it with conflicting priorities. I set my mindset up for a goal that is tangible and within my reach rather than solve imaginary problems, or problems that aren’t mine.

  • Stop comparing yourself with others

Seeking clarity has nothing to do with anyone else but yourself. It is difficult not to look for an existing blueprint outside of myself, in places like social media, movies, celebrity lifestyles, or simply anyone or anything for that matter. I find inspiration in books and I love to listen to podcasts for clarity, but I take it in with a grain of salt. I know that every tool in a self-help tool box needs to be tweaked for every user. Comparing yourself to other people or using someone else’s blueprint for life is not the best way to honor your unique personality or finding clarity. Lately, I have been feeling a growing sense of space between my life, sense of purpose, personality and uniqueness from those of others. I used to get tangled up in other people’s dreams, and agendas but not so much anymore. I think shedding envy helps to recognize that you don’t always need what someone else has, or is perceived to have, because it might not be a fit for you. Recognize your self worth and honour your gains. Protect your identity by not selling out to get what you think you should have; nothing compares to you or your life. You will find you will gain more insight when seeking clarity, when you embrace your natural personality.

  • Recognize your patterns

I have triggers that I recognize and I deal with them as they come. It is not always easy, but with enough meditation and self-awareness, it is possible to become more aware of the types of patterns a set of behaviours produce in life. Finding clarity is not possible when you are stressed, afraid or unhealthy. I find that when I understand my negative go-to behaviours, I am able to create distance between my negative thoughts and immediate reactions. Understanding what I feel in a heated moment, helps me collect my thoughts and words, so that I am able to express myself with common sense rather than unintended hasty emotions. Recognizing how you operate is crucial to maintaining a clear head, when seeking clarity.

Gaining insight and seeking clarity are key drivers to realizing full potential, refines personality, and establishes the ground work to be a thoughtful human. Despite the many challenges I have faced this year with going back to work as a new mom, in the midst of a full-blown pandemic, I have found that even in this situation I am experiencing so much inspiration and clarity. I don’t need a perfect situation to feel inspired. It is in the imperfect moments I find myself most challenged and invigorated. I am not always clear on where my life might end up, but I know that despite the ambiguity that faces me, I am still able to embrace the process. Moments of clarity are jewels in my life journey, and when I receive them, I smile and soak in the feeling. I know more of these moments of inspiration are coming my way, if I choose to keep working hard toward healthy habits. Clarity is a process not a destination. Keep moving.

Gaslights, Light The Way

It is undeniable the damage a gaslighter can do if you get too close to their fire. Reality to me is something that is uncontested truth. I like facts, words and the concreteness of things. To some, reality is merely an illusion that is simply energy, a perisistent illusion. I think of reality as something that is real and existent as opposed to something that is imaginery, it is the totality of a system, known and unknown. Physcial objects, tangible and real things make up reality. I like to play with the “what-ifs” and the “what could be” once in a while, but I certainly am not blind to the “what-is” in my life.

But what happens when someone tries to undermine your entire perception of reality? 

Throughout my life I have met all sorts of people, from different backgrounds from my travels and even in my own city through school, work and different love relationships. The personalities that have helped solidify my own perception of myself the most where the… gaslighters. 

Gaslighters communicate in way that leave you feeling dazed, and make you question if there is something wrong with you.

Gaslighting is basically underming your reality. It is about power and control. Some basic tactics are minimizing your thoughts and feelings, deflecting and shifting blame, denying wrongdoing, using compassion as a weapon and twisting and reframing conversations. It is the behaviour not the person that I don’t tolerate. I believe that everyone can do better. I am not perfect myself and have caught myself torching others with these tactics. Awareness is key.

Gaslighters have shown me my light.

In the past I  have entertained opinions about my character and put them on to wear but they never fit. The negative realities and the perceptions that were not my own were itchy, uncomfortable and never sat well with me. I am not against constructive criticism but there is a fine line. My judgments and perceptions are my own to express no matter what the other person feels. If this is challenged to the point that I have lost my opinions and feelings and adopted the other persons perceptions this is no longer a true representation of my world. 

When my husband and I decided to change and grow and pursue a healthy life including going booze free, I thought we would receive only postive feedback. To my surprise that wasn’t the case, and not only did we receive negative feedback, but we found ourselves isolated for a while from people we thought we could trust and support us.

For a time I was confused but then I realized that I have a voice and I have the right to express it. I was able to carry my truth of my reality only when I wasn’t afraid to lose people that didn’t allow me to grow in my life and I let them go. 

Let the gaslighters carry their perception of you by themselves, you don’t need to burden yourself with other peoples opinions of you. I am glad I ditched those torches. That was not my baggage.

I think that if you make a commitment to your reality, and what you think your future should look like, this is more important than how others perceive you. I now understand that no matter how hard you try to please others, or try to explain your perspective and feelings, it is not worth losing your power and your sense of self.

You own your right to make space in the world and show up in a way that celebrates who you are. Raw, unfiltered and real. Too many times I have let my self-image, my persistence to please and my fear, take my voice away. Now I see, that even if I generate positive energy, make myself healthier or try to contribute for the good, there will always be opposition and that reality has nothing to do with me. It takes a gaslighter sometimes to show you the light, to help you solidify your own truth and give you strength to never allow anyone to dim your light again.

Hold that torch high.

Keep shining.

Keep moving. 

You Got This!

Sugar My Frenemy

Since I was a kid I loved sugar. I watched my grandma bake apple struddle pies, and as soon as they would land on her kitchen table to cool, I would pick at the pie and eat tiny forbidden pieces. The soft, delicious warm pieces, where my first real memories of the feeling and taste  of sweet sugar. As I got older, sugar has always been something that gave me a quick energy boost and feelings of warm familiar comfort. 

It isn’t easy to deny sugar. As it is in most of my kitchen items, ketchup, most sauces, honey for my tea, cereal, and so many more. But when I seek sugar, I definitely do it deliberately. Now when I think of it, after not drinking for 5 years, I have realized I rely on sugar for energy more than I think. As I get older, and have more on my life plate, my energy is dwindling and need more to sustain me throughout the week. I reach for items to put in my body that will keep me going. This is not necessarily a bad or good thing. I am aware of it happening. 

Some days my healthy diet just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, I have long work weeks or something throws me off my game and I need an energy boost. In my earlier days, getting more energy out of me was going to the bar and having a drink. The sugar alone in the drink gave me my second or third wind for the day. Now, a cookie, a piece of chocolate and even tons of honey is my elixir, some days are worse than others.

Everything in moderation I have heard over and over. But sometimes, moderation isn’t enough to get me through to the end of the day without having more than one cookie or piece of chocolate, but I don’t beat myself up about it. What I do, is keep in mind my awareness of my relationship with sugar. Just like when I reached for a second or third drink to give me a boost of energy, I am aware I am doing the same with food now. 

Habits are funny like that. If you are not careful, the same habit creeps up on you in a different way. Just like the same type of person may keep showing up in your life, until you acknowledge it. I try to acknowledge my patterns of sugar intake with how much stress I am experiencing in the week, the month or even in the day. This helps me be aware of what might come next. This awareness slows down my sugar ride by creating some distance between my thoughts and my actions. I’m not too hard on myself about my relationship with my friend sugar, I know it is here to stay and I welcome it in my life but I am also not naïve about my patterns and habits with it. I try to create an inclusive and non judgemental space for sugar in my life so that I am not so harsh on myself when it shows up in my life a little more than I would like for a small period of time. I breath, take a bite, enjoy and get on with my life. 

“You can be miserable before you have a cookie, and you can be miserable after you eat a cookie, but you can’t be miserable while you are eating a cookie.” – Ina Garten 

From Avoiding Conflict to Fighting Fair

I don’t know about you but I love a good argument. I am always down to figure out difficult solutions, accept disagreements, try to understand obtuse ideas, far out perspectives and extreme scenarios of any kind. Within reason of course.

I like to freely air out grievances, get things off my chest. I think this is very healthy for growth. 

I love to assert my ideas and defend my perspectives, guard my values and principles. But when it comes down to the hard uncomfortable real life confrontations, I seem to always do a playback of what was said. I find that the difficult conversations that we have with people bring so much more than just words. The adrenaline rush that comes with fighting, always finds its way to my throat first before reason, or kind words. Over the years I have sharpened my communication skills as opposed to my tongue, to navigate fair fights with the people in my life. 

In any scenario it is always good to have some tools in your pocket to help you get through a fight in a fair way. Strong unwanted words cannot be unsaid and the bad vibes that linger, stay until a new secure relationship takes its place post battle. Unwanted, strong harsh words and feelings are exhausting, damaging and easily avoided. 

Here are some tools for fighting fair: 

Set the Stage 

If you confront someone or if someone confronts you, either unexpectedly or planned, be prepared to set some ground rules. These could include, no swearing, no yelling, no name-calling or whatever you need to make you feel safe and calm. 

Also pick a place to fight. Ask the person to meet you in a spot that makes you feel calm and safe. If you are confronted immediately step back and ask to postpone the meeting for some other time. If this is not possible, visualize a calm safe space, this will take you out of your fight/flight mode and help you tap into your reasoning brain, which will help you communicate more effectively. 

I like to talk hard uncomfortable stuff in nature, a walk in the park or just out on my front porch. I find it calming and a very neutral space for all that hard energy to dissipate. But if that is not an option, try a space that you have been before that makes you feel good, a coffee shop, a certain room in your house or even an area in a building, like a lobby. The calmer and safer the space the better your mind will react to strong emotions. 

Express your Needs and Negotiate Solutions 

In a perfect world my fights would always end with me as the winner. I like to right fight. I would beat my chest and say, “I told you so!” for all the world to hear, periodically through the day to boost my mood and ego. Ok, STOP! That’s nonsense, because we all know that we grow from change and that change also includes having difficult conversations with people and that doesn’t include being right or winning an argument.

Some of my biggest growth spurts came from serious fights with family members, co-workers, bosses and boyfriends. The raw emotion that travels through a confrontation has a powerful way to rewire our brains, perspective and to allow us to get to the next level of maturity. In all this raw emotion though you have to find strength to  express your needs and cannot lose your sense of dignity, integrity and respect for the other person. 

Sometimes our confrontations happen organically with people not from anything we have done but simply because others are not allowing you to grow. You need to know how to express your needs and negotiate solutions during and post confrontations. You need to establish what you need for yourself as you grow and communicate this to people. Nobody can read your mind. Building healthy boundaries is key to navigating a fair fight, because then you know what your breaking point is and what your limitations are. You need to express these limitations explicitly, so that solutions can be tailored to your specific personality needs and that all parties experience a sense of fairness. 

Know When to Walk Away

All confrontations are worth exploring, even if it is just for personal growth. But some fights are not worth it. Sometimes you just need to walk  away. 

In the book Mastery by Robert Greene the chapter, Suffer fools gladly Greene illustrates how sometimes it is not worth your energy to entertain a difficult relationship with people who have foolish personalities and make cooperation impossible. He gives a description of a fool as a person that is money grabbing, obsessed with their public image, has short term thinking, ego driven, ruled by insecurities and gets little done to name a few. Greene advises, “if they are causing you trouble, you must neutralize the harm they do by keeping a steady eye on your goals and what is important, and ignoring them if you can.” – (Mastery Robert Greene) Sometimes we all act a fool, and giving people the benefit of the doubt should come first before walking away. But, when it is impossible to entice your opponent to a fair fight due to their innate difficult personality then it is worth the walk, because a dirty fight always leaves the deepest scars that take the longest to heal. 

Fight often. 

Fight Fair. 

Grow. 

Pushing Yourself Too Hard

This morning when I woke up to a soggy wet winter day, the first thought that went through my mind was, I’m not going for a run today! That’s how the day started, and the mood was set. Negative and irritated. Cue the negative self-talk – I should go for a run, I haven’t gone for a run in a while, I should get fresh air, I’m being lazy and on and on. The “I should” statements were loud and annoying, putting me in a dark frame of mind and discouraged me from being motivated to doing anything at all. I fell down the rabbit hole. This brought up an interesting thought about motivation and the fine line between encouraging yourself to be motivated and pushing yourself too hard.

I have been told in the past, by many people that I am too hard on myself. I think this mostly stemmed from my inability to make proper life decisions and lack of values. So, I concentrated my energy on everything. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I changed my degree at University three times, had multiple long-term relationships with various boyfriends, dabbled in art, had numerous precarious jobs and was wandering from one interest to the next. I wanted to master it all. I gave myself so many tasks to complete by a certain age that I can tell you that almost none of them were completed and most of my accomplishments are only variations of what I expected I would achieve. I think this is where the pushing too hard lives. In the idea that something is “supposed to be”. The “supposed to be” lives in an imaginary concrete world and my life is not so black and white anymore. My motivation and goals are not defined by time. Motivation is something I live every day. 

As my values started to solidify my interests narrowed and it was easier for me to understand what my priorities are. I don’t have to master everything I try. I have goals, but I don’t attach too much expectation and keep an open mind regarding the process. The end product from any goal is almost always something of a variation of what you expect not the exact thing and that is ok. I was chasing an expectation and a certain outcome. Today, I am grateful for the learning process of anything I am studying or reading, any physical activity I am doing and embrace any new situation I am met with, because that is all I can control really. Relinquishing my need to control situations and dropping the rigid timeline has helped me to feel less anxious about the future and I have learned how and what motivates me.

Recently I became a new mom, and this was one of the steepest learning curves I have ever faced. I was anxious and upset that I didn’t know how to be a mom. I asked myself, why I didn’t know how to do this with ease? Simple answer, because I am a new mom. I am so quick to find short cuts to the learning process. There are no short cuts to learning something new! There are no short cuts in life! Read that last sentence again…I am still learning to be a mom.

That is the lesson about pushing too hard. Time will help you learn what you need to know. Be patient. Your values will lead you to where you need to be, the people around you will tell you who you are, and your body will tell you when you want to rest. I think our culture glorifies pushing ourselves to our limits. This in turn puts unrealistic expectations of what we can actually achieve. I’m not a super mom, or super wife or super anything. I take it in one moment at a time and learn from what the moment is trying to teach me. I reflect back in gratitude and see now that despite not checking off what I think I should have done today or ten, fifteen years ago, my experiences shaped and carved out my precious life today.

If you cannot take a moment to appreciate the hard work that is behind you, then the pushing too hard will never end. There lies a fine line between dissatisfaction/survival mode and complacency. Sometimes we need to stop, rest and appreciate where we are before pushing harder. I take pride in honouring what I have been through, how far I have come and look forward to everyday, even on the days that I forgo exercise to sit, broody, on the couch, with a warm blanket and a hot turmeric tea.

Casual Conversations about Loneliness

I have always wondered how other people experience loneliness. 

Is it painful? 

Where does it hurt? 

How long does it last? 

I have never posed this question to anyone. It is an awkward topic of conversation. I guess it might be that we don’t really want anyone to know that we are experiencing feelings of loneliness. To be social and have a lot of social connections is more popular than bringing up conversations surrounding feeling alone or isolated. I know for myself, despite having many friends, this does not guarantee feelings of belonging and understanding. Your perception of the quality of your relationships and how you feel about them has a lot to do with how you are going to interpret your feelings of being connected. If the experience of loneliness is highly subjective and is defined by a state of mind of feeling alone or isolated can someone potentially experience the opposite of loneliness if there were a space or platform to open up conversations surrounding loneliness, like in any setting, work, home, the grocery store, the library, etc? Why aren’t we casually talking about feeling lonely?

When I was partying and drinking my younger years away, my motives for partying was for connection and belonging. Of course, peer pressure played a major role in that lifestyle as well but mainly for me it was finding a place to be heard and understood. I wanted a sounding board for my life that accepted me for who I was, which was ironic because when I drank this was not a true representation of my authentic self. So here I was trying to get accepted wearing a mask. Not true acceptance at all. 

As I matured and embraced my health and my new way of life with no alcohol, I adapted to interacting with people differently, in different settings and I grew. My loneliness loosened its grip on me and it definitely doesn’t have the ferocity it used to have. Sometimes it still creeps up on me when I am not understood, accepted, rejected or feel disconnected from people. In those situations I rely on my logical mind to kick in to over analyze the situation and to neutralize my feelings of loneliness. I dropped the analyzing with time and replaced it with acceptance. I adopted the thinking “it is what it is” that’s it! I accepted people for who they showed me they were, the situations I was in, the role I played in situations, how coincidence and chance played out in my life and simply accepted that I was ok to sit by myself if that was what the situation called for. If I needed to be there for me, I was there for myself by accepting myself. If I needed help or social connection I reached out without attachment and grasping. The people pleaser in me fell off. The mask finally gone.

The solo work that I did getting myself healthy established a deep connection with myself that I bring to all my relationships today. The perception of the quality of my relationships has changed as I am aware of my own worth. The better I started treating myself, the better I treated others, this in turn fostered better, healthier relationships. Intimacy comes from knowing your own needs and responding to yourself in a way that you allow true connection. This connection, even if the feeling is just for a moment, is important to keep your emotional and mental health on track. This connection can be with nature, your religion, earth, people, yourself, your children, and the list goes on. Even when it is impossible to physically socialize with other people, loneliness doesn’t have to dominate your thoughts and feelings if you find a way to connect with someone or something that is truly important to you. I found solace in finding a way to cultivate my need for health, through running, cooking organic healthy meals and meditating. Even though these are activities that are done alone, I don’t feel lonely because I am doing them with the person that knows and appreciates me the best…with myself.

3 Ways to Make Better Decisions

My decision-making skills are levelling up as I grow. I have come a long way in making better decisions as my experiences and perspectives mature over time. When I decided to quit drinking, this was a decision that wasn’t made overnight, it was a culmination of bad experiences and mounting health issues that led me to decide. But not everything in my life was decided as so. Some of my decisions demand quicker responses, some need critical and deep assessment and some decisions are made for me without my control. 

Here are some things to consider when making decisions that have guided my own decision-making process. 

Give Yourself a Timeline

When my husband and I decided to quit drinking it was never a good time. There was always a birthday coming up, a dinner or a holiday. We simply just decided on a day and stuck to it. We gave ourselves this day so that when the day came, we were prepared to fully step into the new. It was easier to make the decision because we had each other for accountability. If you make a decision create a timeline for the action and ask someone in your life to hold you accountable to that action. 

Align the Decision with your Values

Values are very personal and unique to you. They are what drives your motivation and sets priorities and goals in your life. What are values you ask? Things like honesty, integrity, authenticity, safety, taking responsibility and the list goes on. Core values are the foundation your life stands on. If you haven’t figured out what your core values are you aren’t going to make decisions that are best suited for who you are and what you truly need out of life. Ask yourself what is important to you so that you may determine what guides your attitude and actions. Health was one of my core values that I felt like I wasn’t honoring when I was drinking. So, when the decision was made to quit alcohol, I felt amazing that I was finally living in alignment with one of my core values. The decision was easy to make and even easier to stick with because of my awareness and dedication to my values.  

Stop Second Guessing your Decision

When you second guess your decision, you don’t make a commitment to the outcome. This is a demonstration of fear and not owning your decision. Asking for feedback regarding a decision is great but it could also lead to externalizing responsibility of your decision-making process to other people and undermines your ability to understand who you are and cope with the unexpected. I know I have made some regrettable past decisions, and this sometimes leads to second guessing myself today and undermines my confidence in making good decisions. I commit to my decision by weighing the pros and cons and accepting the unexpected outcome. I can’t predict or control everything in my life, so I trust my instincts. A lot of decision making is based on guess work and guessing to the best of your ability and staying flexible is the only thing you can do. 

Happy Deciding! 

Let me know what you think.

How do you make decisions in your life?