New year series: Set yourself up for success!!

Today is December 31, 2021. I am doing a series focusing on preparing and moving into the new year. This fifth and last blog will focus on setting yourself up for success in 2022.

There are many different ways to prepare yourself for success in 2022. This year, I plan on making a list of things I want to do in the next year. I haven’t done this before, and it will be an excellent way to stay focused on what I want to do or accomplish. I also think this list could also be used to help me create my goals for 2022.

Making a list can be an excellent way to get clarity around what you want to do next year. Writing down things that are important to you and that you have passion for is where you should focus.

I think it will be a great thing to review at the end of 2022 and see what I could cross off my list. I’m excited!

However you plan to move into the new year, I wish you luck and success. Taking time to prepare for the new year can only help you!!

Good luck to you in the new year! Make 2022 all that you want it to be!!

Stay safe and enjoy this last day of 2021!!

New Year Series: Celebrate your successes

Today is December 31, 2021. I am doing a series focusing on preparing and moving into the new year. This fourth blog will focus on cleaning things up.

I like to review what I accomplished in the past year and celebrate all of my wins. I list the goals I achieved and recognize the progress I made on goals I am still working on.

Reviewing your past year’s successes could help you understand what you like to do and what you don’t. I know I found this to be true a few times when I’ve done this exercise, and I found that the things I liked to do, something I was passionate about, I completed successfully.

Taking the time to do this can help with the motivation that can help you when you think of setting new goals. Reviewing what worked for you can help you identify patterns that bring you to success and use them to help you reach goals in the future.

Celebrating your wins can help elevate your mood and bring you closer to happiness. Make sure you celebrate all you did in 2021, especially the things that bring you closer to living your best life. You deserve it!

Celebrate you!!

Stay safe and enjoy this last day of 2021!!

New years series: Clean things up

Today is December 31, 2021. I am doing a series focusing on preparing and moving into the new year. This third blog will focus on cleaning things up.

Starting the year fresh and on a clean slate is always my intention, and I clean up my social media, email, and phone. These three things are in my everyday life and influence my thoughts, so that is the reason cleaning them out is so important to me. As you are scrolling through timelines or sorting through email, do you like what you see? If not, it is time to clean them up!

I will share some things to clean up my accounts and phone. The internet is a great resource to find more information and even tools that can help make this task easier. I hope you take the time to do these things. If you do, you will notice a difference in your everyday life.

Social media cleanup is first on the list and one that I think is most important. Take a look at your accounts and decide what you have worth keeping and what you should delete. I like to start with my posts and photos, and I do a quick look and see if the content matches who I am today. Social media may be the first place that people see you. Does your content portray the message you want others to see or think about you? If not, clean it up.

I know that I have made some posts in the heat of the moment that was not flattering, and I have since deleted them. On some platforms, your memories are saved and redisplayed, be sure you remove anything you don’t want to see again. If you have triggers that you know about, this could be helpful. Delete the content that doesn’t resonate with who you are or want to be.

Look at your feeds in your accounts. Does the content from friends or subscriptions still resonate with who you are? Does your content reflect what you are interested in? Cleaning up your feeds to reflect what you are currently interested in or working on can be a tool that can help support you in achieving your goals. Unsubscribe, unlike, or unfriend anything that doesn’t keep up with what you are trying to bring into 2022.

I review the privacy policies on my social media accounts as well. Often, when sites are updated, they change their privacy policies. You should make sure you understand what is being shown to the world, what the site is taking from you(private information, posts, photos), and that you agree with it. If you don’t, change the settings or remove your account.

Do a google search of your name and any online aliases you may have. Doing this search could help you find comments or accounts you forgot you had. Review what you see and remove what you can. Sometimes the content cannot be deleted, but knowing what is out there can help you take responsibility for it. Taking 100% responsibility is essential if you want to live your best life. I wrote a blog on it, and you can find it here:

Email cleanup can help you leave an overstuffed inbox in 2021. Going through your email and removing subscriptions you no longer want can help the cleanup. I have an iPhone and used the app ‘unroll me,’ and I love it! The app will go through your email accounts and find your subscriptions, and you can choose to keep, delete, or save them off if you are unsure.

I like to create rules for emails that I don’t want to lose and store them into folders. Setting up these rules can save confusion and time when finding an important email. Email cleanup can take time, but I feel it’s worth it as I feel more organized and clear by doing so.

Cleaning up my phone is something I do at least once a year. I go through my apps and delete ones that I am not using, organize folders, delete contacts, and verify privacy settings. I use my phone so often for so many things, and cleaning it up helps me with clarity and focus.

Taking time to clean up social media, email, and your phone will help you move into 2022 clear-minded and on point! Cleaning up what you are allowing into your vision will help keep your 2022 vision clear!!

Happy cleaning!!

Stay safe and enjoy this last day of 2021!!

New Year series: Leave it behind

Today is December 28, 2021. I am doing a series focusing on preparing and moving into the new year. This second blog will focus on learning from the past year’s mistakes and moving forward without regret.

I like to take time and write down the things that didn’t go well for me in the past year. Did I have regrets, or were there things I did that I didn’t want to repeat? Writing these things down can help shine a light on the situation and identify any areas that need forgiveness, compassion, clarity, and closure.

I like to meditate and get quiet when I review my year, and I ask myself what things I experienced in the past year are still causing me anger, hurt, or pain. Writing about the bad and dealing with anything you left undone will help you move into the new year and leave the harmful and unwanted things in the past.

I’ve had some years where I was still in the thick of the drama or situation this week before the New Year. When I have been there, I Focus on whatever positive thing I can about my problem. I try to focus on anything that makes me feel okay saying. Like, “I’m thankful that the new year will bring a new start where I can move past this place I’m in now.” If you cannot find a positive thing about your situation, try writing down where you want to be next year, next month, or next week. Imagine what you will be doing and write about it. Include as many senses and emotions as you can. See pictures in your mind where you imagine yourself doing what you want or see what you are hoping to have. Imagine touching it, seeing it, tasting it, imagine whatever senses go along with what you desire. Whenever you feel low and like there is nothing good you can focus on while going through this week, think about your story and focus on the joy it brings.

An affirmation I like to use when I am struggling is this, “Every day in every way, things are working out for me.” You can’t just say or write these words, feel them! You have to take a leap of faith and believe they are true as if your life depended on it! Visualization is an excellent tool to help you shift from lower vibrations, like depression, anger, or hurt, into joy, happiness, and love. Thoughts are things. Choosing thoughts that are higher vibrational can give you the strength to keep going and to focus on moving forward instead of being held back.

Visualization is a very powerful tool. The late GREAT Wayne Dyer said, “The more you see yourself as what you’d like to become, and act as if what you want is already there, the more you’ll activate those dormant forces that will collaborate to transform your dream into reality.” That may be a lot to digest, it is easiest to think of it this way, you have a choice to be happy and hopeful or to be sad and afraid. Most often I have found that nothing changes about my situation by changing the way I think except for my mood. Choose happy!!

I have suffered from depression my entire life. I used to stuff all of the bad stories, things I went through, and feelings deep inside, and I now know this is unhealthy and doesn’t work for me. Clearing my thoughts of the past hurts, regrets, situations, bad choices, or betrayals is a healthier way to deal with unwanted things I experienced. By doing this, I can move forward confidently. I am not going to lie. It does take courage and strength to face the facts head-on, but moving into clarity and love is worth the struggle.

If you are truly struggling right now, I am sending love and light your way and praying for the angels to bring you comfort and peace. If you need to talk to someone, please call someone you know or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I want to share this quote from the great Wayne Dyer:
“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”

Be Courageous!!

Stay safe and enjoy these last days of 2021!!

New Year series: Move forward

Today is December 27, 2021. I haven’t blogged here for over a year and a half. I have a goal to write five blogs by 12/31/2021 by 5 pm. I will write this blog as the first of five, focusing on preparing and moving into the new year.

This first blog is going to focus on moving forward. I look at the week before New Year as a magical week. Not much is happening, and it seems like everyone is still celebrating or waiting for the new year. I’ve used this time in the years past to close out the old year and prepare for the new year. One of the first things I do is think about all of the things I’ve left undone. Making a list of my incompletes and finishing as many of them as possible before the new year is something I have done for a couple of years now. I wrote a blog on it, you can find it here:

To move forward into the new year, I like to close out the old one or get as close to that I can. Making a list of incompletes is an excellent way to identify what you want to leave behind, and I believe the list can also be a good starting place for new goals for the coming year. Making a list of your incompletes isn’t with the intent that you will complete all of the things you have left undone by 12/31/2021, but rather, it is an acknowledgment of what you have yet to do.

I’ve made my list, and there are things that I will be setting as goals in 2022, and there are also things that I have already completed or will complete by New Year’s Eve. I believe it is nice to have a few easy goals set for January to get the cadence going for the rest of the year! Starting the year knowing what you have left to do or finishing up what you can is a great way to clear your space and prepare for the new year.

To move forward into the new year, I write down my thoughts and reflections on the past year. I write about what brought me joy and what didn’t. I write about things I went through and the lessons I learned. I can identify areas that require forgiveness by myself to others or forgiveness to myself. I write about what things I want to leave behind as well. Finalizing a chapter and moving forward is always my intent when I think about the unpleasant things I experienced in the past year.

The law of polarity is the law of opposites. For each positive thing, there is also a negative. This law is necessary because before you can honestly know what you want, you also must understand what you don’t want. Writing down your thoughts and reflections for 2021 will help you know what you want to bring into 2022 and what you need to leave behind.

Diving deep into your environment and mind can be a powerfully transformational experience. If you make a list of your incompletes and a list of your 2021 reflections, you may reveal many things you didn’t realize were there. You may find something that no longer fits into your world and should be left behind. You may find things that bring you so much joy and excitement that you feel the rush of excitement thinking about the new year and the new possibilities that are waiting for you.

I’ll end this first blog with a great quote I discovered tonight, “Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Be bold!!

Stay safe and enjoy these last days of 2021!!

Broken agreements – accountability

When you do not keep your agreements, you pay both external and internal costs. These costs are high and can lead to loss of one’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. 

Follow the below process to identify and confirm the agreements you have made in your life with yourself and others.

Make a list of the agreements you have made. These can include things like, promises to release weight, workout, quit drinking as well as promises you have made with others.

Review your list and schedule or plan on how you intend to keep them.

Are there any agreements on your list that you know you will not keep?

When did you first know you would have a broken agreement? There are times when we know as soon as we agree to do something or tell ourselves we are going to do something that we immediately start thinking of the reasons we will not or cannot keep the agreement. Start noticing if you are doing this and if you discover you are, stop yourself and do not agree to whatever it is. If you have already agreed to do something for someone else and you know you will not be keeping your promise, tell them you are not going to do what you said you would do. Although it may be hard to be honest with them and have that conversation, it will be easier than to let them and yourself down once you have broken your promise.

Think about why you are not going to keep your word. What did you make more important than keeping your word? Most of the time when we do not keep a promise it is because we are choosing our own comfort, or the approval of someone else, or we want to have control and rebel against ourselves or others. To take accountability you have to be honest with yourself and others. It is okay to say no and it is what you should do if you do not intend to keep a promise.

The price of not keeping an agreement can include…

Loss of trust/respect

Loss of relationships

Loss of business, jobs, income

Tiredness, fatigue, loss of energy

Confusion, lack of mental clarity

Loss of integrity or self-esteem

Loss of power

Important steps to keep agreements:

Only make agreements you intend to keep

Write down agreements and schedule time to do them

Review your agreements regularly

Don’t overcommit

As soon as you know you are unable to keep an agreement, communicate it to the person you made it with

Renegotiate any broken agreements

Clarify and affirm agreements others have with you

It’s important to understand that every agreement you make is ultimately with yourself. Even when you are making an agreement with someone else, your brain hears it and registers it as a commitment. You are making an agreement with yourself to do something, and when you don’t follow through, you learn to distrust yourself. The result is a loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. You lose faith in your ability to produce a result. You weaken your sense of integrity.

To live your best life you have to determine to commit to keeping your promises. Once you start doing this you will discover that guilt, shame, or feeling bad will all be things you used to feel because you are deciding to live in your truth.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to reach out to me or to leave a comment below.

This post is based on the Success Principles by Jack Canfield. https://www.jackcanfield.com/store/the-success-principles-10th-anniversary-edition/

Forgiveness

Someone has hurt you or done you wrong. You have anger, bitterness, and hate flowing through your mind, body, and soul. When you think about forgiving them, you immediately think of all of the reasons you are in the state you are in, and the thought of forgiveness is not one you are willing even to consider. The person that did you wrong should pay, and you want revenge! You are living as a victim at this point, and you feel you need to hang onto your reason and forgiveness isn’t possible in your mind, the person that did you wrong doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. What I’ve described is how I felt about forgiveness until I went through the process of forgiving.

The truth is that forgiveness is for you; it isn’t for the other person. Living with anger and hate is toxic. Peace isn’t possible in this state, and until you forgive, you won’t be living your best life. I believe that moving into forgiveness is a process, and everyone has their timing.

When I was going through therapy, I had a lot of things come up that required my forgiveness. I was so angry, hurt, and troubled. The thought of me forgiving the people that wronged me made me even more furious. I was a victim; I was a child when things happened to me. I didn’t ask to live the life I did. As I started working through my past, I got more confused. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t protected as a child. Where were the adults that were supposed to protect me? Someone should have been there for me and helped me out of the crazy and even dangerous situations I went through. I didn’t have that adult or person in my life, that was one of the hardest things I had to forgive. It took me a long time, but eventually, I forgave everyone I felt wronged me. Even when I thought I had forgiven everyone, I came to realize that the last person I had to forgive was myself.

As I worked through my past, I used journaling as a tool to get my feelings out and onto paper. I would write when I was angry, and a lot of the times, my fits of rage would subside into tears and sadness. You could even see it in my writing. It was real. As I was doing this, I was letting go of some of the pain, but not all of it. I was purposely hanging onto the pain and using it as my reason why I was so angry. I wore it like a badge of honor, even though it was killing me inside, and I was unhappy. The anger was so much a part of who I was that releasing it and not having it anymore made me feel anxious. I had let my experiences become my identity, even though it didn’t feel right, and even though I was no longer living that life, I couldn’t make it all go away quickly. I realized I had to forgive if I ever wanted to feel peace again.

Forgiving was very hard for me to understand. Why did I have to forgive? At first, I felt that if I were to forgive others that it meant all I went through was okay. I thought that the people that wronged me would be getting away with something. I wanted them to pay for what they did to me, or to at least acknowledge it. I have some people in my life who have never owned up to their part in my abusive past. That hurt me so badly for so long. I held onto that hurt and used it to excuse my anger.

When I was ready to forgive was when I was tired of living in anger. I was tired of living as a victim and wanted to feel good again. One of the things that moved me into the forgiveness space was understanding that by forgiving, I was going to take back my power. Living with anger was exhausting to me at this point, and my desire for happiness was more than the desire for revenge. I saw the people that had caused my pain living a happy life, enjoying every day, while I was killing myself with anger. I knew I had to stop, and I knew the only way to peace was forgiveness. Once I came to terms with this, I was able to accept that I would probably never understand why things happened to me as they did. I realized that the people that did me wrong might never pay for their actions. I realized that the only power I had in any of this was to forgive and that by forgiving, it would allow me to move forward.

What I did to forgive was a process. I made a list of the things I was angry about. I went through my list, and for each thing I listed, I felt the pain I experienced and then let it go. Some things were more comfortable to work through than others, but all of them were necessary to work through to come to a feeling of peace, finally. I remember the first day I felt something was different, something in me had changed, yet I didn’t know what it was. As I thought about it and moved through my day, I realized the absence of anger was what changed.

Forgiving myself wouldn’t come for years later. Once I started to learn about self-love and understand how necessary it was, I realized I hadn’t forgiven myself for all that I put myself through. I realized I was very hard on myself and that I blamed myself for how I acted in the experiences I went through. I had to forgive myself for being hard on myself for not being as empathic as I was for a total stranger. Realizing this was shocking to me and also something I decided to change. Of all the things I had to forgive, I believe forgiving myself was the most difficult and most necessary.

I am incredibly thankful that I went through the process of forgiving people and myself for the experiences I had to go through. I am proud that I was able to move forward in my life, and because I did, I can live my best life.

If you have things you need to forgive, consider doing that. You will not regret it, and you will see your life change.

Do you procrastinate?

I believe everyone at one time or another have procrastinated. There are some things I wait to do until I have the energy or the time to do it, and some may say that is procrastination. I don’t believe it is. Waiting for inspiration or for time/energy is not something you can put a time on – it just happens. But what about the times when you know you should do something, maybe it doesn’t have a deadline. You know that doing the task would be beneficial, yet you still don’t do it? What about the things people tell you to do because they think it would be beneficial to you, yet you continually put it off? Are those things procrastination?

To procrastinate in its simplest form is to put something off that you are supposed to do. If you are someone who continually puts things off that you know you should be doing, then you may have a problem that you should resolve. If you don’t, you probably won’t be living your best life.

If you find yourself stuck and think you are procrastinating or are unsure you are procrastinating, this list may help you get unstuck.

Why are you going to do the task?

Often times, asking yourself this question will help you figure out if you should even concern yourself with the task. If your answer is because a friend, family member, colleague, or someone else wants you to do it, ask yourself if you’re going to do it and why. If not, don’t do it! Standing up for yourself and being honest with others can be hard, but it is something you should do. Staying true to yourself is necessary, and if you don’t agree with what others think you should do, don’t do it, or listen to it, or argue about it. Standing up for yourself is easier than living with guilt or shame for not doing something they think you should do that you do not agree with. Choose your happiness and put yourself first.

What is the story you are telling yourself about the task?

Are you scared to do the task, and have you created the worst-case scenario in your head about what will happen if you do it? Is the story you are telling yourself realistic? If not, change the story! If the story is realistic, I would ask myself again, why are you doing it? How can you change the story so that you can complete the task? Can you talk this through with someone else who can support you while you do the task? Focus on the reason you need to do the task instead of the scary outcome.

Is the task you are to do to big?

Chunk the task down into steps and do them one at a time. It is often easier to do small tasks instead of one big one.

 Schedule the task you have to do and do it.  

Put the task into your planner, set a reminder for the task, and do it. Include the reasons you have to do the task in your reminder. Remind yourself what the result of not doing the task is as a way to motivate yourself into doing it. If you fail to keep your scheduled time, reschedule it, and forgive yourself.  

Celebrate your success in completing the task.

 I am a person who loves to celebrate – everything! I take the time to celebrate my wins. I think doing this is a form of self-love and is necessary. To me, celebrating is a way to honor myself, and I look forward to it! If I have a hard task to do, knowing I will be celebrating it at the end is like a light at the end of the tunnel and helps me continue to push through the hard task.

Procrastination can be a hard thing to deal with, but once you start recognizing you are doing it and begin to make changes, you will be on your way to living your best life!!

Radical change and acceptance are needed in Mental Health

I went to Oprah’s 2020 vision tour earlier this month. Part of Oprah’s tour is to talk with other ladies that are visionaries. I was happy to see Tina Fey at the show I attended. I love Tina and was so thankful that I was able to see her in person. Tina mentioned Lady Gaga’s interview with Oprah during her interview, and tonight I finally watched it.

The two words I will take with me from the interview with Lady Gaga are Radical acceptance

I watched Lady Gaga and realized that we have a lot in common. She believes we need to change mental health, but not just change it – Radically change it. I like that and feel the same way. She thinks she went through the things she has in life to help others now with her wisdom. I think that way about myself. I have so much wisdom from my mental health issues and life experiences that I believe if I share my story, it can help others. I’ve always looked at my experiences in life as lessons that will help me help others. I love her passion for happiness. Happiness is an inside job and comes when you begin to love yourself. I believe as she does, gratitude is the most important thing for your mental health, and then after that comes self-love and self-care.  

Lady Gaga mentions using dialectical behavior therapy or DBT as a form of therapy to deal with the trauma she went through and also medication, among other things. I used DBT in my therapy and took anti-depressants for years while I was in therapy and even for a while after I stopped seeing a therapist. While in the hospital, I had a team of doctors that were all there to help me get through my mental health issues. Lady Gaga warns of not having your general doctor prescribe any drugs that have to do with your mental health. I agree with her. A psychiatrist is trained in Mental Health and will be able to give you the best diagnosis.

While in the hospital, I started to realize just how broken I had become and that I had a lot of work to do. I was broken from the trauma I suffered as a child, and through my first marriage. When I was ready to take my life, I was a single mom and had just left an abusive relationship that lasted from age thirteen to twenty-two. I was very broken, and instead of dealing with the trauma I had gone through in childhood and my first marriage, I was working twelve-hour days and trying to maintain a household as a guest in my brother and sister’s apartment. My life was very chaotic and messed up. I was living as a victim, but couldn’t see a way to make my life better. I knew that if I was going to live a good life, I would have move past my trauma and therapy was going to be how I would do it.

When I got out of the hospital, I decided not to go back to work because it was just too hard. I committed to going to therapy and fixing my life so I could live my best life. I believe spending the time to go through therapy as I did, for four years, allowed me to put my past behind me and move forward. In the beginning, therapy was tough and painful. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in life. Going through so many thoughts, experiences, and traumas that I never dealt with was hard. I had reoccurring nightmares that would nightly run through my mind as I slept, sometimes occurring more than once. I would wake up each time screaming, and it would take me a long time to calm down enough to even get back to thinking rational thoughts. I have always dealt with nightmares and night terrors since I can remember, but after starting therapy, they increased, and it began to affect my daily life and those in my household.  

The therapy was so tough. In therapy, I was going through memories I had stuffed and not dealt with or was ashamed or embarrassed to talk about with anyone. Bringing up these memories were the triggers for my dreams, and they started spilling over into my waking thoughts. I almost stopped therapy when the pain of remembering was practically unbearable. I remember spending the day after therapy being more depressed than ever, and it seemed only to get worse. I remember going to my therapist and telling her I couldn’t go into the details of the worst of the memories. I felt like if I had gone through them, I would have lost something in me. My therapist told me about CBT and suggested we use that therapy instead of what we were doing.

Wikipedia defines CBT Therapy as:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health. CBT focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions (e.g., thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes) and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems. 

CBT was life-changing for me. In therapy the tools I used most were self-talk, journaling, and doing the opposite as ways to get through a lot of the triggers I was dealing with from my trauma. I still use the tools today in my daily life.  I am still so grateful that I was able to learn all I did from CBT about my emotions and myself.

I cannot express how much love I have for Lady Gaga and her goal of creating radical change in Mental Health. The organization she started is moving this message forward and they are already doing big things! I love that she has a desire to get Mental Health doctors in every school and that she agrees that we need to be teaching Mental Health in health class so the next generation will have better understanding and control over life issues they will go through.  

You really should take the time to watch this interview – it is incredible!

Lady Gaga’s foundation, Born this way:

Here is an article on DBT.

If you are someone who is dealing with depression or another form of Mental Health, please reach out to someone or use one of the methods below to get help.

MentalHealth.gov

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline

1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)

Shame and Vulnerability

Last fall, while writing my book on my life story and working through healing, I became aware that most of my life, I have lived with shame. The instances I remembered while I was writing were sometimes others shaming me, but mostly, I shamed myself. Once I discovered this truth about myself, I knew that I would have to start learning about shame.   

Last week a friend told me about Brené Brown. Up until then, I had never heard of her or her work. Brené has spent the past decade researching Vulnerability and Shame. I listened to her TED talks(see links below), and what she had to say helped me understand a lot about my issues being vulnerable and taught me a lot about shame.  

As I started looking into my shame and at the different areas in life it showed up, I also noticed where it didn’t show up. I discovered that I was able to be vulnerable at work with both leadership and friends, with my friends I exercised with, and in some close friendships. I believe living a life of compartmentalization, and by having my circles closed off, was how I was able to be vulnerable in some situations and not in others. I discovered that I had difficulties with shame in my family relationships and personal relationships the most. Because of past trauma and hurts, I lived a lot of my life unable to be vulnerable in those areas.  

As I listened to the TED talk, Brené did: ‘Listening to shame,’ I began to understand what shame is to me. Brené defined shame as focusing on self and guilt as focusing on behavior. Understanding that has helped me identify shame easier within myself. Brené talked about Joy and how it is hard to have if you are living a life of scarcity — hearing that I started to understand how I could be vulnerable in certain areas of my life and not in others. Learning and understanding that the opposite of Joy could be depression also helped me. Finally, I realized how I could be successful in certain areas of my life and not in others. Suddenly it all became clear, and everything started to make sense. I was able to see my relationship issues so clearly now. I had a huge Ah-Ha moment!!

In my work life, I have always been vulnerable because I learned early on that being upfront and open about whatever I was working on ensured I would get help from others if I needed it. I was always really secure in my work, and although at times I was learning and unsure, I always felt that I would figure out whatever question or problem I was trying to solve. I never struggled with being afraid to say I didn’t know anything, and I’m sure that helped me immensely with being able to be vulnerable. I had unwavering belief and confidence in my ability to do my job.  

When I looked at my relationships and how I felt about myself in them, I immediately saw that I was unable or unwilling to be vulnerable by default. I had a few relationships I was able to change that in, but it was always a change, never something I did by default. Many failed attempts at relationships or ones where I was hurt were the reasons I was unable to be vulnerable. Past situations where I was told bad things about myself and the pain and shame I felt from those words were also reasons I wouldn’t allow myself to be vulnerable. I was protecting my heart. In doing that, I failed to realize that I was cutting myself off from not only the bad emotions but also the good ones.  

I was practicing vulnerability avoidance, and the way I chose to do this most was to numb myself. I used food and alcohol most. I also used perfection as a way to protect myself from being vulnerable. When I looked at how I was acting in relationships, I found that it was exactly how I had acted in my body image issues. I felt in relationships; I was not enough. I was not thin enough, I had terrible credit, I was divorced twice, the list of reasons I wasn’t good enough was long, and there were many. I know I have to change my thinking about relationships, but more importantly, I need to stop the “I’m not enough” thoughts and self-talk.

As I’ve just started learning about my relationship with vulnerability and shame, I am finding that there is a lot to it. I am thankful that I now have clarity in what is blocking my ability to have certain relationships without pain or self-doubt. I have much more to learn about the different aspects of shame, and I look forward to sharing what I’ve learned here. If you haven’t heard Brené speak on these topics, make sure you take the time to watch the videos below.  

Brené Brown TED talks:

Quotes from Brené that resonate with me:

“Vulnerability is not weakness.”

“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” 

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

“Vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.”

“You can choose courage, or you can choose comfort, but you can’t have both.”