Be your Best Friend: Advice to Myself

Today’s words of wisdom stem from a conversation with a dear friend and co-worker.  She is working hard on trying to improve herself and her situation so she asked me for my honest opinion on something.  She asked, “Will you give me 3 areas in my life you think I could improve on?”

The answers to this came way too easily.  You see, this girl is 10 years younger than me and is also a single mother.  We’ve been there for each other through a lot of stuff over the last couple of years.  She reminds me a lot of myself.  So I realized as I was typing these things, I wasn’t only speaking to her – I was speaking from my own experiences, what other wise people have taught me, and I was speaking to myself on the things I constantly need reminders of.

So today – here are 3 areas in life I think we could all improve on . . .

  1. Love yourself.  I know that we hear this a lot, but many of us have been taught that loving ourselves is selfish.  The issue is, we spend so much time trying to do for others, that we have nothing left to give.  We were given these bodies and these lives to TAKE CARE OF.  We have to meet our own basic needs if we want to reach our full potential and have the capability and energy to love others.

    So . . . GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.  You have overcome so much in your life!  SO MUCH.  Maybe you had a horrible childhood.  Or maybe you survived the severe mental illness of a family member.  Maybe you survived a horrific accident and had to learn to live your life all over again.  Maybe you survived an unhealthy marriage or learned to move on after a betrayal.  Maybe you’re a single parent who struggles to make ends meet.  Everyone has a story and everyone has a struggle, whether they admit it to others or not.  The important thing to remember is – YOU ARE STILL HERE. You haven’t given up yet!

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    SO STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF.  You are making it.  You are making progress.  And your hard work and perseverance WILL PAY OFF in the long run.

  2. Learn how to “teach others how to treat you.”  Meaning, if you continue to allow people to treat you badly, they will continue to do it.  Set clear boundaries on how you are okay with being treated and what you will absolutely not allow.  And then let people know when they are doing a good job or when they are not.  This applies for families, friends, co-workers, and yes, even bosses, managers, superiors, etc.  We all need to be able to set personal boundaries in our lives.

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  3. Pay attention to your body and your emotions.  Notice when you start to feel stressed and prepare for it.  Preparation includes scheduling guilt-free alone time to pray, meditate, sleep – whatever you need to get through it.  (Don’t think you have time to meditate or just spend quiet time alone?  Check out this article on Pattern Interrupts.)

    Start a journal.  Even if it is as simple as writing down what you eat and what your emotions were that day – it is a step to learning more about yourself and what you need to survive.

    Another tip, especially if you’re an emotional eater like I am, always have a favorite healthy snack nearby to devour in times of need.

    The more you learn about yourself – the easier it will be to notice things and make the best choices for YOU.

I also wanted to share one final thing (okay, so actually it’s FOUR) that has been a huge help in my own personal growth.  I’m still working on each of these in my own life – but the second agreement was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.  I dealt with so much fear and shame in my own life, all because of what I was afraid others thought of me.  (And I was probably making wrong ASSUMPTIONS anyway.)

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Click on the picture to learn more about The Four Agreements book.

So, Congratulations to everyone who is doing their best every day and making steps (no matter how small) to better themselves.  YOU’VE GOT THIS!

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Do one thing

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Any of my followers who might wonder where I have been, I have been busy stepping out of my comfort zone.  I was kind of forced to do it – but am glad that I did.  I am not going to go into detail just yet – but let’s just say that this 40 year old body aches every night, but is getting more activity than it has in a very long time.

I used to be so fearless, and I lost my confidence along the way.  I’m slowly gaining it back and having a blast doing it.  So I thought I would stop in long enough to encourage each of you to step out of your comfort zone and do the thing that scares you.  I think it is worth it.

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The Neverending Story

“[Studies have] found that people working in creative fields, including dancers, photographers and authors, were 8% more likely to live with bipolar disorder.
Writers were a staggering 121% more likely to suffer from the condition,
and nearly 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general population.”

– From “The dark side of creativity: Depression + anxiety x madness = genius?”
by William Lee Adams

From my own experience, I know that often times, depression and anxiety can go hand in hand with creativity. I have good friends and family members who are artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers, actors, directors, and producers. I would say about 75% of them have struggled with some form of mental illness at one time or another.

When creative people are so stressed and busy that they do not take the time to utilize their gifts, it becomes difficult. The other issue is that many people see creative endeavors as “just a hobby”, so those who frequently make time to pursue their creativity are often told they are being selfish or wasting their time with something frivolous.

I had a conversation with a good friend a few days ago about that very thing. As a single parent, it is very difficult for me to find time to write. I am judged for the time I take to work on the small theatre company I co-own because it “takes away from” my time with my family that needs me. And it frustrates me because we are supposed to teach our children to live their dreams – but how can we model it if we are continually putting off our own?

batianreadingOur conversation reminded me of one of my favorite fantasy movies:  The Neverending Story. (If you haven’t seen this movie, please do me a favor and go watch it . . . RIGHT NOW. I am not going to take the time to explain the plot because it just wouldn’t be the same.) I am showing my age again by admitting that the first time I saw this movie was on LaserDisc when it came out around 1985. Once we had a VCR, my brother and I watched this movie over and over. It is still one of our favorites. And I think that it is a good metaphor for how creative people who also deal with depression and anxiety live.

When a creative person stops creating – it is like “the Nothing” takes over in Fantasia and you’re not brave enough to give the Empress a new name. Why? No one will understand what you said anyway.

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(I know he supposedly says “Moonchild”, but it sure doesn’t sound like that!)

Why keep fighting a losing battle? Because it’s too hard, because it’s pointless, because it’s overwhelming, because you have obligations, because your job sucks . . . or because you’re scared you might actually change things?

neverending-storyartaxswampsOnce you start going down that slippery slope, you find yourself in the swamps of sadness with Atreyu and his horse Artex. And those swamps of sadness are really hard to make it out of alone.

In the story, Atreyu was rescued by Falkor, the luck dragon. But who is going to rescue us?

There will never be a perfect time to pursue your passions. Ever. I believe we have to decide to pursue our passions wholeheartedly and make them a priority now. Maybe our creativity IS our luck dragon. And once we climb on and ride the wind . . . our story keeps going. It is never-ending.

And adventure awaits.

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One year later: Robin Williams

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It has been one year since we lost that bright light in so many of our lives, whether we knew him personally or just as one of his characters in a movie.  His loss is still felt, but his legacy lives on.  I wanted to share what I wrote about him last year (on my old blog) and would love to hear how Robin Williams touched your lives.

(Click the link below to read)

The Sky is Brighter because it Gained a New Star