Escaping, Part 2

In my last blog post I talked about the dangers of escaping instead of feeling emotions.  In this post, I’d like to talk about what to do if you’ve had a rough day and the adversary is pounding you and you want to go into escape mode.

For starters, I’d say this is why it’s important to have a hobby.  I found art journaling to be a godsend for me.  I was introduced to jennibellie on youtube.  I was first drawn to her tutorials on how to make journals and scrapbooks out of scrap materials, but then found that mixed media art was something I enjoyed and was cathartic for me.  Any hobby you enjoy, be it art, music, sewing, woodworking, gardening, etc. can be a great alternative to turn to instead of escaping.

Second, projects can be a great source of diversion when trying to process emotions.  Anything around the house that will make your space better for you, whether functional or aesthetic, will allow you a proper outlet for the energy of big emotions.  Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a huge project.  Even organizing your purses or shoes gives you a sense of accomplishment that you did something worthwhile.

Projects don’t even have to be physical in order to be successful.  I am working on writing a book right now.  I am working very slowly, and I can’t honestly say it’ll ever be done, but it gives me something for my brain to do when all it does is want to focus on my problems and negativity.  Blogging can do the same thing.

Often the best way to avoid escape is to just do those things you have been putting off that are nagging you.  Does the kitchen need to be cleaned?  Do it!  Does laundry need to be done?  Paperwork sorted? Meals planned?  Emails returned?  Just do it!!  Tackle those things that are hanging over your head and making you want to escape in the first place!!

Ask yourself this: What can I do that would make me feel better about myself tomorrow?  If I was living as the ideal “me”, what would I be doing now? This, my friends, is the best tool that I’ve ever found to fight the urge to escape.

Escaping

Some days are hard days.  It’s part of being a human on this earth.  Sometimes our emotions are so big we don’t know what to do with them.  They feel intense and unmanageable.  We may feel like the only thing there is to do is to just turn them off.  Instead of allowing ourselves to feel and process these feelings, we go into “escape mode”.

Escape mode allows us to turn off those emotions and numb ourselves to the point that we can’t feel any of that bad stuff any more.  No more hurt.  It sounds ideal, right?  People escape by binge watching videos on Netflix, youtube, or another streaming channel.  They turn to food.  They dive into social media, arguing on political or religious posts with strangers, or just adding tons of “friends” so there’s always something new and interesting to look at.  They spend excess time on video games.  They get caught up in addictions like drugs, alcohol, pornography.  Sometimes escape can, on the outside, look like a good habit like reading.  But if it allows you an escape from emotions instead of allowing you to process and deal with your emotions, it can still be unhealthy.

With all of these easy ways to escape, it is clear why people do it so often.  Unfortunately, in the long run it does more harm than good.  Those emotions don’t go away.  They fester. We become dependent on these escapes because the hurt is so overwhelming.  Our families suffer because we are no longer able to connect with them, because any chance of making our emotions vulnerable hurts too much.

So, what do you do?  You feel the hurt.  It sucks.  There’s no other way to put it.  It sucks to cry.  Especially if you’ve been programmed by society to believe that it’s a sign of weakness.  But you cry.  You get angry.  You punch a wall.  You throw yourself on a bed and thrash around because there’s no other way to get that emotion out of your body.

In Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, she likens it to intentionally pressing our finger against a thorn.  Why would you do that?  You do it because, when that emotion is out, you are able to downgrade it.  Where there was abandonment, there is now loneliness.  Where there was devastation, there is now hurt.  Where there was rage, there is now frustration.  Where there was loathing, there is now disappointment.  You can’t live with rage, but you can live with frustration.  And then you don’t have to turn to escape in order to deal with life.

Stay tuned for my post next week about what to do when you’re tempted by escape mode.  When you’ve had a hard day and your brain says, “Let’s grab that big bag of candy and lay on the couch for 4 hours and fast forward through Pride and Prejudice to only watch the parts with Colin Firth”.

Rebooting

Do you know what’s awesome about Mondays?  It’s a chance to reboot.  It’s a new beginning, a clean slate, a fresh start with absolutely no mistakes.  Many people pick Mondays as a day to start new goals or reboot old ones that have fallen by the wayside.  I was wondering recently, though, why wait until a Monday to start a reboot?  Why wait when you have a fresh, new, clean day every day?  There are a few good reasons to start rebooting daily instead of weekly.

Reboot

 

First, it helps build habits faster.  If you fall off a goal after only two days, you are wasting five days until you start again!  What if you rebooted the next day? That’s only one day that you’ve missed, and it will be a lot easier to build a habit if you only skip one day instead of five.

Second, when you start fresh each day you are more likely to focus on your successes in stead of your failures.  It’s more motivating to look back and see how hard you have tried every day to succeed.  If you haven’t even tried for 5 days in a row, how motivated are you going to be to try again?  If you keep trying every day, even if you don’t succeed every day, you are going to be more successful.

Third, it’s nice to have some introspection every morning as you plan your goals for the day.  I had a boss that once told me, “People that make a list get twice as much done as people who don’t, even if they only finish half the things on their list.”  I have found it to be so true!!  When I sit down with my list of “to do’s” and goals every day, it forces me to prioritize my life.  I have found things that, as I work regularly towards my goals and habits, sometimes I find that things are less important to me than they seem in the beginning.  If you reboot weekly instead of daily, you’re going to waste a lot more time figuring out those types of things.

So, how do you do it, you ask?  It’s as simple as making a couple of lists.  Get a notebook, a planner, or another place to write things down.  Make a list of what habits and goals you are working on.  Prioritize them.  You definitely want to work on the most important things first.  But sometimes the most important things are going to take a long time.  So throw in a couple of short, easy to accomplish goals so that you feel successful.  Then, every morning, take five minutes to write down your to do list for the day.  Seriously, it can take as little as five minutes.  This does not have to be a complicated thing.  Just make a to do list.  And then go and do.  Even if you don’t do everything on your list, you will feel accomplished and successful.

Try rebooting daily and see how it works for you.  Come back and leave a comment if you like it!!

Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

So sorry, Brené, if you ever read this, that I couldn’t properly get the accent on your name in the title.

I’ll be honest, friends.  It took me a long time to get through this book.  I got about 3/4 the way through, then had to take a step back from it.  It contained so much awesome information and created so many new awarenesses that I couldn’t contain it all.  (And I think part of that was due to the fact that I had just come off previewing a bunch of novels for my kids, and Shannon Hale’s Princess Academy Series and The Ever Afters series by Shelby Bach have a significantly easier reading level.  I had been spoiled.)

I finally sat down with my notebook and decided the only way I was going to get through it was to take notes.  Which, frankly, I should have been doing anyways, since my comprehension and retention is so much better when I do.  It still took me a while, but I made it through.

The Gifts of Imperfection is so chock-full of information it’s hard for me to summarize in a paragraph for a review. So instead I will make a list of my favorite lessons learned:

1 – When we change ourselves to please others or to fit into the mold that we feel society has for us, it will only bring unhappiness.

2 – Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, which includes embracing our imperfections, is imperative to loving ourselves and allowing others to love us.

3 – Hope is not an emotion, but a way of thinking.

4 – The opposite of joy is not sadness.  It is fear.

5 – The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.

6 – Comparing ourselves to others will never lead to happiness.

I look forward to reading Brené’s other books.

4 Legs of Self Care: Spiritual

This is a tricky subject for me to talk about.  I am Mormon, and we have a couple of spiritual practices that are different than other Christian religions, whose practices are different from other organized religions, whose practices are different from those who practice spirituality outside of organized religion.  So I shall endeavor to tread carefully while talking about spiritual self care.

A basic belief in God, or in a greater being or force outside of ourselves can bring purpose when we go through trials.  (From here on out when I refer to God, please feel free to substitute the greater being or force of your belief system.)  I have found those without a belief in God tend to struggle when going through trials.  They often feel that there’s no point. Some who vigilantly follow the law of attraction believe that they are the creator of their trials, and can feel a sense of guilt when something bad happens.  While I believe in the law of attraction, and the christian counterpart, the law of the harvest, I believe that there are other eternal laws that govern our lives and can be the impetus of trials in our lives.

When we believe that God exists and has our greatest interest at heart, it is easier to recognize that trials have a purpose other than making our lives miserable.  If we can harness that purpose and keep an eternal perspective, it is easier to grow (and go) through that trial.

spiritual self care

Spiritual self-care can help us keep the purpose and perspective that is needed to get through trials.  What practices do you find helpful in maintaining your spiritual self?  Do you rely on prayer, scripture study, and church attendance?  What about spending time in the outdoors enjoying God’s creations?  Do you practice meditation?  Do you regularly express gratitude for the blessings you have? Do you give back to others through service?   What can you do to enhance your current connection to God?

Living Your Own Life

It takes so much energy to be married to an addict.  So much of it involves worry: is he lying to me again, is he acting out again, am I doing enough to get him to stop (you CAN’T stop him so stop trying), how will this influence the kids, should we get divorced, should we see a counselor, what will happen if….  Often, the wives of addicts feel like they have no control over their own lives, because all of their thoughts and worries revolve around him and how his actions will affect their lives.  She winds up feeling very unempowered.

One of the first steps a woman can take, no matter the reason she is feeling unempowered, is to start intentionally living the life she wants to live, no matter whether those around her are ready to live it with her.

For example, my husband worked Saturdays for 15 years.  He had a great job that allowed me to be a stay at home Mom to our three children.  But I missed so many opportunities because he couldn’t come with us.  Street fairs, birthday parties, museums, and other events would go unattended because I wanted to go as a family, and he couldn’t go with us.  If it was that important, sometimes I’d ask my Dad to come with us, but it just wasn’t the same.  I was really living a life waiting for something to happen.

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Finally I decided to just go without him.  I realized how much I was missing out on waiting.  I picked a Saturday and decided to go hiking.  I found a very easy paved trail that ended at a waterfall.  It was a little scary to pack up my kids and drive up a mountain road in a minivan by myself, not to mention keeping an eye on three young children as we walked up the side of a mountain.  But I did it.  And it felt AWESOME!

And I have not slowed down since then.  We bought passes for the Los Angeles Zoo and go often.  We went to a insect fair at a local museum.  (Ew!)  (But cool!)  We’ve traipsed around California visiting friends and family and monuments and museums and all kinds of awesome things that I wouldn’t have ever done before.

About 4 months ago, my husband’s schedule changed and he got Saturdays off.  I had already established a pattern of spending time making memories with one another that was easy to carry on now instead of struggling to establish new patterns.  Me taking control and living the life I desired has blessed my family immensely.

What are you NOT doing because you’re waiting for an external circumstance to be ideal?  What step can you take to live it?  Have you always wanted to go back to school and study something dear to your heart?  Do it!  Are you Christian and skimp on scripture reading or family prayers because your husband, the patriarch, doesn’t initiate it?  Well, you initiate it!  You can still bless your children!  Have you dreamed about having a beautiful yard or garden but feel like you can’t do it without him?  Yes you can! Check out some gardening books from the library and get to it!

What can I do to support you?  Reach out to me on my contact page.  I can help you set goals and provide accountability to make sure you’re living the life you dream.

4 Legs of Self Care: Physical

In my post about Building Ourselves, I mention four legs of self-care that we can use to build ourselves up.  The first one is physical.  Physical self-care simply means taking care of our bodies.

Physical Self-Care

I think it’s pretty well known that if your body isn’t working properly, you just aren’t going to live up to your full potential.  What areas do you need help?  Do you exercise enough?  I know that’s one that trips up a lot of people.  Let’s spend a couple minutes talking about that.

Exercise takes time.  There’s no way around that.  Where can you carve out half an hour or more to give yourself this love?  First thing in the morning?  During your lunch break? After the kids are in bed? After work?  it may be different times on different days.  That’s okay.

It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as it gets your heart rate up a little.  The big trend in exercise right now is high-intensity bootcamp style workouts  I’ve tried them, and I hate them. If I’m going to drag my backside out of bed at the crack of dawn ( my prime time to exercise, having bootcamp waiting for me is not gonna motivate me. I will keep myself in my warm squishy bed.  If you want to get me up early, though, put on a cardio kick-boxing video.  I can’t resist.

What is your style of exercise?  Do you prefer to be solo?  Do you want to get out in the crisp air early in the morning and walk or run and enjoy the peace that comes from solitude?  Or are you more social?  For years I met a friend after we took our older kids to school.  We had three little kids in strollers and sometimes it looked more like a 3-ring circus than it did a workout, but we were moving our bodies, and that’s what’s important.  Plus knowing that a friend is expecting you can be a great motivator to be consistent.

Now, what about your diet? Do you fudge a little when your doctor asks if you eat 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies?  How much junk food do you truly eat?  Be honest with yourself.

Do you see a doctor as often as you should? Or are you like me and put it off until it’s either unbearable or I’ve solved it myself and just need a doctor to confirm I’m right. Don’t be like me!  (I’m trying not to be like me, either!) If something isn’t right with your body, get it looked at!

What areas of physical self-care can you work on?  I can help!  Reach out to me on my contact page and we can set some goals to get you taking better care of yourself.

Stay tuned for the three other legs of self-care!  I’ll link them here!