A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, ‘What does love mean?’ The answers they got were broader, deeper, and more profound than anyone could have ever imagined!
‘When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore… So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.’ Rebecca – age 8
‘When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.’ Billy – age 4
‘Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.’ Karl – age 5
‘Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.’ Chrissy – age 6
‘Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.’ Terri – age 4
‘Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.’ Danny – age 8
‘Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and just listen.’ Bobby – age 7 (Wow!)
‘If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.’ Nikka – age 6 (we need a few million more Nikka’s on this planet)
‘Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it every day.’ Noelle – age 7
‘Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.’ Tommy – age 6
‘During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.’ Cindy – age 8
‘My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.’ Clare – age 6
‘Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.’ Elaine – age 5
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.’ Chris – age 7
‘Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.’ Mary Ann – age 4
‘I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.’ Lauren – age 4
‘When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.’ (what an image!) Karen – age 7
‘Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross…’ Mark – age 6
‘You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.’ Jessica – age 8
And the final one: The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, ‘Nothing, I just helped him cry.’
Now, take 60 seconds and post this for other to see. And then be a child again today!✨💗✨
Often we hear about those who have bipolar disorder and the fight they endure mentally, but we can often overlook the children affected by it when a parent is bipolar. I became strong at a young age because of my mom’s bipolar illness. My mom was a single mother who raised two kids as a server and always made sure we had food on the table and clothes on our back. From an outsider looking in, we seemed like a strong family. She began to experience bipolar episodes when she was in her early 20s when me and my sister were in diapers. I can imagine this was a scary thing for her not knowing why she would stop feeling any sort of happiness at any given time.
Being a child to a mom with bipolar was confusing and challenging and unstable for me. By the time I was 6, I knew she wasn’t like other moms. Everything seemed to matter so much and everything was a huge deal. It’s like she felt 1000 times more than the average person and she didn’t know how to deal with it (at this time, I had no idea what she was going through).
I knew my mom had two sides to her. When I was younger, I wondered why she hated us some days and loved us so much other times. Some people may get sad with bipolar, but I think her sadness turned into meanness because she didn’t understand her own illness. As I got older, this became my “normal.” Watching her go through these episodes, I often thought, “Does she think I don’t notice what’s happening to her?” I never knew who my mom would wake up as and not knowing what mom you were getting was scary for me. We often tiptoed around the house nervous to wake her up because she could be in a “mood.” She loved deeply and loved us very much, but often took her episodes out on us since we were always around.
When your parent acts irrational, it’s easy to take on the responsibility of feeling the need to cover for them to help them seem “normal.” When I was 8, I covered for her to friends’ parents when she would never come get me from a sleepover because she was having a episode. I would get so embarrassed and mad when she would do these things and outsiders would see it. If she did make it out to come get me from a friend’s house, I didn’t know how she would show up. Would she be fine and ask me if I had fun or would she lay on her horn the whole way down their street telling me to get in the car and fast? Even at the grocery store, cashiers could tell my mom was acting strange and I would try and play it off and take the attention off my mom.
She was very violent during an episode, so we knew to be on our best behavior but this never helped. She spewed awful hateful words to us saying she wished she never had us and we ruined her life. At one point, I thought I made her like this because I didn’t know better.
As the years progressed, I learned to never take it serious but I would be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. Coming home from school on her good days, she would ask me how my day was and what I learned. I knew it was a bad day if I came home from school and she was sleeping with her door closed. I learned to give her space and just do things for myself. I tiptoed on egg shells a lot around my house. I knew anything could set her off and I didn’t want to have to reap the consequences.
I watched how her bipolar affected her and us. We constantly moved almost every year because even our housing became unstable. I hated to switch schools and meet new friends. This broke my heart always having to say goodbye to friends I grew attached to. As I became a teenager, my mom become a lady I loathed. I knew something was wrong, but I was so hateful towards her at this point. I became resentful that someone even let her become a mother. The years progressed and I watched episodes become longer and longer and life get more unstable for all of us. I learn to distance myself from her while living under the same roof.
As a teenager, I saw her start to deteriorate. I saw her jump from job to job and some days just never go to work and stay locked in her room. We never talked about those days, just went on with our business. Some days I would not see her come out of her room for days and I began to become OK with that. I felt like she let me down by not being that “normal” mom who could deal with life and act accordingly. I wanted a mom who was my best friend, not one who constantly let me down because of a episode.
I think the worst part was her not talking to me and telling me why she was this way. Holidays and birthdays brought on episodes for her and they always lasted the longest. My 16th birthday, she hid in her room and I sat in mine hurt and upset that she didn’t even wish me a happy birthday. After many events like this, I just wrote her off because of the lack of communication.
Now as I am 26, I get it and forgive her. She was fighting her own demons in her head. If you are a parent and go through something similar, my advice is to tell your children. Tell them in an age-appropriate way. Make sure they understand it’s not them. I guarantee they notice the change, they are witnessing it firsthand. Being a parent with bipolar disorder is not something to be ashamed of and now my mom has a lot of regrets with her children. I forgive her and don’t resent her anymore. I grew up to be a strong-minded individual because I had to be and I owe it to her. She is the strongest lady I know and I will continue to be there now while she goes through her “down days.”
Loneliness is not the absence of connection but the full presence of God and a total experience of the Self.
It is total “isolation” which is not isolation at all from the perspective of Infinitude. Loneliness contains its own cure, if we are willing to dive in, courageously, or without any courage at all. The dive is everything. Loneliness is utterly misunderstood in our culture, or rather, it is only understood on a very superficial psychological level.
Everyone is running from loneliness, keeping busy just to avoid it, never coming to know and taste its sweet and merciful healing nectar.
For many, loneliness is an enemy, something shameful to be avoided or covered up at all costs. We reach outwards, habitually, automatically, unconsciously, just to keep our distance from loneliness, just to avoid the deafening silence at the heart of all creation. We fill our time and senses up, addict ourselves to projects, create false personas on social media, try to stay “connected” as much as we can, never letting ourselves rest, to avoid the “void” and the gaping chasm of loneliness. But in its terrifying depths, loneliness is not harmful or shameful at all; it is a highly misunderstood spiritual experience of Oneness with all creation, a full and life-giving immersion in the staggering beauty – and utter horror – of life itself, a deep and timeless connection to all living things. Loneliness is not an emptiness but a full presence and an abundance of life. It is pure potential and freedom and surrender all at once, but as long as we are running from it we will never know its nourishing, healing and transformative powers.
Loneliness is not a negative state or some mistake in our being or biology, it is inherent in existence itself, built-in ontologically to our very consciousness and it transcends the psychological story. It is connection, not disconnection. It is wholeness, not lack. Loneliness is a naked spiritual state and subsumes all other states. It is an utter letting go, a paradigm of pure receptivity and perfectly tender openness. It is the ground of being itself, and the base of our subjectivity.
We run from it at our peril.
Nobody can experience our joys and sorrows for us. Nobody can live for us and nobody can die for us. Nobody can experience our own subjective reality, see what we see, feel what we feel, experience what we experience, love what we love, heal from what we need to heal from. We can act as witnesses for one another but we cannot enter each other’s subjectivity or breathe for each other or process each other’s pain. We exist in utter aloneness and uniqueness always, and this is true even when we are in deep connection and relationship. Our ability to relate authentically has its roots in our profound loneliness, and this is what makes every connection with another being such a miracle. When we run from our loneliness, we run from the miraculous and we run from ourselves.
Without loneliness, we exist in utter spiritual poverty, no matter how ‘evolved’ we believe we are.
Loneliness is a journey we must take alone. Like falling in love, or like dying, we must fall, without protection and without guarantees. Loneliness is the artist in the midst of creating something utterly new, the scientist on the verge of a breakthrough. Loneliness is the woman crying out on her deathbed, the child being born, the spiritual seeker kneeling prostrate before the ordinary world, the adventurer forging a new path in the dark forest. Loneliness is a risk, but utterly safe. Loneliness is the heart of trauma but it is a loving heart after all. Loneliness feels like shame and total abandonment from the perspective of the mind but for the soul loneliness is a full encounter with the timeless mystery of creation and an utter celebration of all there is.
Loneliness takes us out of our minds. It breaks us, grinds us down to our essence, erodes us back to purity and innocence and beauty, brings us close to death but then rebirths us, stronger and more courageous than ever before. Its terror breaks our defences and, then, vulnerable and soft and open, we re-enter the world, more sensitive to its beauty, more aware of the fragility of form and more tender towards the ache of humanity.
We don’t always know if we can endure loneliness, but we do.
When we are in loneliness, it is total and all-consuming and even time recedes. Everything disappears into loneliness – it is like a black hole, and we don’t know how long we can survive its ferocious embrace. But we are stronger than we know and we endure it beautifully. Through meeting our own loneliness and letting it touch us deeply, and ravage us, and cleanse us, and renew us, we come to know directly the loneliness of all beings, their yearning for the light, their deep ache for God, their search for home. We recognise others more deeply as ourselves. Loneliness makes us look beyond appearances and touch the depths of the world soul. If we have truly plumbed the depths of our own loneliness, we can never again close our hearts to the loneliness of others, to the yearning of their humanity, to the horror and awe of creation itself.
Loneliness breaks us open to a devastating compassion for all things, it matures us spiritually and increases our empathy a thousand-fold. We become more caring, more compassionate, more deeply considerate. We become more able to look into the eyes of another without shame or fear. We become less able to turn away where we see suffering and pain. We value our connections more deeply than ever before. Each friendship is a miracle. Each moment with a family member, or partner, or stranger, takes on a strange new melancholic beauty. We become more fearlessly alive in our dying. We embrace paradox as a lover and a friend.
Loneliness is the gravity of love, a sacred pull into the heart core.
Loneliness brings with it a sense of rest and contentment, a deep inner happiness and satisfaction. It slows us down to a snail’s pace and breaks our addiction to the clock and to second-hand notions of “success”. It makes us less distracted, less restless, less manipulative, more content with the present moment. The black hole in our guts becomes our unexpected church, our solace, our sanctuary and our mother, and the source of all our genuine answers. We listen to our loneliness and it brings unexpected gifts. New creativity and new inspiration pours out of the lonely place inside. New music comes from there, new and unexpected words, new desire and new paths to follow. Loneliness is the source of all great art, music, poetry, dance, and all works touched by authentic loneliness are authentic works filled with truth and humility and the light of life itself. The nectar of God pours through the broken place inside. Loneliness crucifies us yet shows us that we cannot be crucified.
We do not lose ourselves in loneliness. We find ourselves there more clearly and directly than ever.
Loneliness is the experience of pure intimacy with the senses. It is the erotic experience of being fully alive. It is Jesus on the cross. It is the pulsating ache of a universe longing to be born. It is the end of all things, and a new beginning. It is holding a friend’s hand, not knowing how to help them, not knowing how to take away their suffering, but giving our heart to them totally. It is facing our own death, no promises, no guarantees, no story anymore.
Loneliness is the Beloved beckoning us. Those who have let themselves touch the black hole of loneliness, those who have given themselves up to its relentless pull, who have let the darkness penetrate and infuse and shake and reawaken them, are unmistakable beings. They have a depth and a strength of character that others lack. They radiate genuine warmth and understanding. Their melancholy is the fount of their greatest joy. They are not content with surface things any longer. They have been broken but they are playful too, and full of humour. They love the night-time as much as the day, the shadows as much as the light, the wolf as much as the songbird. Their not-knowing is the source of their wisdom. Their spirituality is simple. They hold no dogma anymore. They have become like little children once more. They are poets and artists and wild lovers of the night.
Loneliness is the experience of being in a body, but not of a body, and knowing that all things will pass, that all loved ones will die, that nothing lasts, that everything is made of the most delicate substance. Loneliness is a deep and unshakeable awareness of the transience and brevity of things, of illness and endings and new beginnings. Loneliness is a love of the night-time, the shadows and the moon. It is present in every moment and saturates every hour of every day. Once you have tasted loneliness, truly sipped from its sacred fount, you cannot run away from it ever again. You are haunted by it, yet you know it is the friendliest of ghosts.
Loneliness opens your heart wider than any other experience ever could. It brings with it youth and innocence. It makes you weep at the sight of sand on the beach, or the sound of a baby crying, or the feel of the morning sunlight on your skin, or upon the contemplation of time itself. Loneliness takes us to our most painful places but helps us fulfil our highest potential. Without loneliness, we are just shells of human beings, frightened skeletons. Loneliness fills us up with warmth from the inside, gives our lives the deepest kind of purpose and direction and meaning. Loneliness makes us realise we are never alone, and we are always loved, despite our imperfections and lack of faith. Loneliness is a religious experience, a lovemaking with the Universe.
Loneliness will save you if you give yourself to it totally. It will not separate you from the world and others but will bind you to them more powerfully. Through the dread and devastation of loneliness you will discover that you are more vast and more capable of love than you ever thought possible. You will be shocked at how much life you can hold.
The more you run from loneliness, the lonelier and lonelier you will feel, and the more you will fear being alone, even if you are surrounded by people. In loneliness is the utter paradox and mystery of creation. It may be last place you want to touch in yourself, and it may sound like madness, what I am saying to you here. But your loneliness may hold all the secrets to your very existence. You may find that your loneliness is not “loneliness” at all, in the end – it is your umbilical cord to God, unbreakable, infinite, death-defying, a cosmic pathway of love and forgiveness and utter, utter humility.
Let your loneliness pierce you, then, and shake you, and nourish you, and let it connect you to the world – and your authentic self – more deeply than ever.
Sources: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association; The Minnesota Reports, University of Minnesota; “MMPI-2, MMPI-A, and Minnesota Reports: Research and Clinical Applications,” James N. Butcher, PhD; Bipolar Disorders: An International Journal of Psychiatry and Neurosciences
Mixed episodes of mania and depression aren’t easy to spot, but when they hit, they’re among my most exhausting experiences. Not only did I learn how these mood episodes affect me, but I realized the risk they carry—and that is my biggest fear.
“Mood Episodes with Mixed Features,” aka Bipolar Mixed Episodes
But, not being a medical professional, and for the sake of this writing—so I don’t confuse anyone or myself—I’ll use the phrase “mixed episodes.” Mixed episodes are yet another of what I call the “twisted” components of my bipolar disorder. I probably experience mixed and depressive episodes more often than full hypomanic or manic episodes. Not only that, it’s a part of my disorder that sometimes concerns me more than depression or mania. At least with depressive and manic episodes, I know distinctly what they are. Mixed episodes aren’t as easy to spot, but when they hit, they’re among my most exhausting experiences.
While I’ve heard of them before, the first time that I can recall being told that I have experienced mixed episodes was about eight years ago, when a psychiatrist had me take the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and determined that I had traits of hypomania and “agitated depression.” Being the overly curious guy that I am, I looked it up and saw that it was one of two names for mixed episodes.
Like with almost everything else that I continue to learn about my bipolar disorder and the experiences of others, it was confusing but started to make sense. It explained why even during my depression that lasted from 2008 till around 2012 or so, excluding the almost half-year-long manic episode in 2011, I had moments when I would feel hyped and energetic, while also miserable and not wanting to get out of bed or see the world at the same time. My therapist at the time was very concerned about these episodes; she warned me that people experiencing mixed episodes were more prone to attempting and following through with suicidal thinking, so she paid close attention while lecturing me about taking my medication… I was notoriously noncompliant with my medication regimen back in those days and it showed.
The Exhaustion of Mental Illness … Amplified by Mixed Episodes
My personal experiences with these episodes, again, is that they are very exhausting. I can’t emphasize that enough. Mental illness is exhausting as it is, but I would say mixed episodes are just another beast altogether. It’s very conflicted for me, especially since these episodes are not as distinct and obvious as manic or depressed episodes are. One of the best ways I can define it is almost like a “mental tug-of-war.” Or perhaps imagine trying to mix gasoline with water and throwing a match into it. If either analogy didn’t make sense to you, you can now imagine the itch in my brain that it causes.
If you’ve followed any of my other blog posts, I’ve talked a lot about how difficult bipolar depressionis for me. I think I have written more about depression than mania, so I don’t have to tell you how it sucks the soul out of me—and for any of you who feel this way, too. But with these mixed episodes, I deal with a mix of symptoms.
My Symptoms of Mixed Episodes
I’m extremely irritable.
I’m extremely energetic.
I don’t sleep.
I feel like I want to crawl into a hole.
Everything around me is nothing but darkness and sadness.
I feel like I’m the show starter and the showstopper.
I feel like I’m Superman.
I hate my life.
I can’t get out of bed.
I feel like all of my life’s energy is being drained, and I’m walking around with a metal ball and chain.
In the most extreme cases, I want to die.
I think you get the idea, so I don’t need to go any further. And these episodes can go on for days or even weeks. To be honest, I don’t think that I ever fully recover from them, because I always feel like I’m straddling the line between mania and depression, even on the days when I’m clearly fine and my moods are more in check.
Dealing with Mixed Episodes That Seem to Never End
So how do I deal with this? Sometimes, I don’t know how. Anyone who knows me knows that my go-to used to be to just try to drink it away. I HIGHLY DON’T RECOMMEND THAT. SERIOUSLY, JUST DON’T DO IT. At this point, I’m kind of trying to drill this into my head (“do as I say, not as I do” kind of thing), because when I tried to drink away the misery, it never ended up good. It either intensified my “mixed” symptoms or tilted the scale one way or the other. I try to handle it by doing the typical things that I would do in an episode: write, read something (no matter how big or small), watch funny videos, send stupid memes, listen to music, walk … whatever will take my mind off of things. But it’s not always that easy.
Efforts to Communicate and Connect with Others
I’m trying to get better at communicating these things—my struggles with bipolar and my mixed episodes—though it’s still not simple or natural. So, I try to talk with friends and I’m still trying to get therapy restarted. I’m compliant with my medicine regimen 99.5 percent of the time, but, to be honest, sometimes I feel like they don’t work when I’m experiencing mixed episodes. I could talk with my psychiatrist to change my dosages and medication, but I’m still fairly new with this current regimen, and it does work the majority of the time. One thing that concerns me with changing medication and dosages is that I hate the unknown variables. My first bipolar medication regimen had weird effects on me, and, because of that concern, I don’t want to adjust them at this time.
What bothers me the most is when I think about what my past therapist warned me about when it comes to mixed episodes and the risk of suicidal impulses. Again, being the overly curious guy that I am, I went back and did my research. I saw how real the likelihood was during mixed episodes. The risk for suicidality is greater during mixed episodes because you’re depressed but you’re also more likely to have the energy and drive to carry out your impulses and/or plans.
This scares the living daylight out of me. Because back when I was told about mixed episodes, agitated depressions, and all of these other new terms that I had to learn, I was always grappling with these kinds of thoughts. It’s something I don’t talk publicly about often, but it’s an ugly truth. I once told someone that I was more afraid of my own hand than anything else. Over the years, there have been some close calls.
I even had a complete, thought-out plan, right down to how I would be found. So, years ago, it was a very real situation for me. Finding out that having mixed episodes increased the chances of it actually happening brought not only another sense of fear but also a new sense of determination to beat this thing. I admit that it wasn’t right away. But, eventually, I realized that I’m not ready to go, and I have to do something to keep these impulses under control.
Choosing to Fight for Myself
It’s hard. But I’m trying. Every day I’m trying. So far, I’m winning.
If you take anything out of this story, I would hope that it’s this: with everything else that is part of this disorder, you’re not alone in this struggle. We’re all living through this together, no matter how it manifests itself. If you’re dealing with mixed episodes, I completely understand you and how it makes a very confusing thing even more confusing.
But because I don’t have the answers, I wonder how some of you deal with mixed episodes. What would you recommend, to me or others, to make them a little more manageable?
Because even though almost ten years ago, a name was given to my experiences and I deal with them frequently, it’s still very tiring and I don’t always know what to do.
‘When you shut down emotion, you’re also affecting your immune system, your nervous system.
So the repression of emotion, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on. ‘ -Gabor Mate However, it’s not just your long-term health that can suffer if you suppress your negative emotions.
There have been numerous studies showing that when we ignore our emotions, we can experience short-term mental and physical reactions as well. Suppressing your emotions can lead to physical stress on your body.
What emotion is being suppressed does not matter, the effect is the same. When it comes to regulating difficult emotions, there are two ways most people respond: they act out or they suppress.
If you act out with a strong emotion like anger, you will most likely create undesirable consequences in your relationships, your work, and even your play.
The ripple effects of acting out usually provoke more anger around you, which leads to more difficulty.
The consequences of suppressing those big emotions can be even more dangerous.
What many people aren’t aware of is that there’s another way to regulate our emotions: Feel the feeling in real time. On one level, emotions are like energy waves, varying in shape and intensity, just like ocean waves.
Their nature is to arise and pass away pretty quickly, like all natural phenomena. Ironically, efforts to “talk yourself out of your emotions” often results in “increased rumination and perseveration.”
In other words, you will keep thinking about and holding onto those emotions you’re trying to avoid. Research into emotional regulation suggests that mindfulness-based interventions can be helpful.
Particularly focus on feeling the emotion and practicing forgiveness, compassion, and kindness at the same time.
This type of tired makes your brain feel foggy and slow. You’re confused about how you ended up here, and you’re not sure where you’re supposed to be going. Also, you probably lost your car keys.
A more physical type of tired, exhaustion occurs when your body and brain are feeling equally run-down. Those who live with chronic or mental illness are very familiar with this kind of tired! (Take it from me, a bipolar girl.)
Quarantine has put new levels of stress on many employees and parents. There’s a big learning curve when it comes to telecommuting or homeschooling! If you’re being overworked, of course you feel tired.
4. Fed Up
If you’ve been feeling frustrated by what’s been happening in the news, you understand this sort of tired. It feels like nobody is listening and nothing is getting better. Maybe a Facebook rant would help? (Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I was wrong.)
5. Burned Out
Burnout happens when daily stressors accumulate without adequate relief. You’re grinding away, day after day, with no end in sight. You suspect that a sneeze could blow you away, like ashes on the breeze. Poof!
Ironically, apathy is often the result of caring too much, for too long. You’ve invested so much energy in a project/person/job without seeing encouraging results. You eventually become indifferent because you’re simply too tired to keep caring. *shrugs*
Perhaps you feel like you’ve made too many mistakes. Or maybe it seems like you’ve been hurt too badly to ever heal. While I don’t believe that anyone can actually be “broken,” I do understand what it’s like to feel that way. And it makes a person feel very, very tired. (PS: You aren’t really broken. I promise.)
I consider this an “emotional” sort of tired. You feel as though a vampire has sucked away your life force. It could possibly be the result of over-stimulation, tense interpersonal encounters or endless problem-solving. Whew. I’m tired just from listing those.
This is perhaps the most difficult type of tired to navigate. When you experience this degree of tired, it feels like the end of the road, like all hope is lost, and there’s no point in trying to move forward. If you feel defeated, you are deeply, deeply tired… and no, a nap won’t cure it. (It’s probably a good idea to call your therapist or a crisis hotline: You need and deserve validation, support and compassion.)
There are people that you will never win with, no matter what you do.
I call them “The Impossibles.” The ones that always leave you feeling bad about yourself. I have known many. Often members of our own family, they are both the ones that we must avoid, and the ones that are the most difficult to avoid.
If we continue to make an effort to connect, we are left feeling terrible about ourselves.
If we disconnect altogether, we are left feeling guilty, selfish, perhaps responsible for their isolation.
Often we blame ourselves for the state of the relationship, even though we rationally know that we would have remained heartfully connected with them if they had been respectful.
We would have found a way, if there was a way. We just would have. What gets lost in the shame shuffle is the fact that some people are truly impossible.
Not just difficult, not just requiring healthy boundaries, but impossible to maintain a healthy rapport with. And their impossibility is not lodged in our actions, or choices, or behaviors.
It is not a consequence of our imperfections, decisions, or missteps. It is lodged in their own issues and limitations. It is lodged in where they are at.
They are simply IMPOSSIBLE.
And the sooner we face that, the sooner we can live a life of unlimited possibility.
“The secret of joy is the mastery of pain.” ~ Anais Nin
When I was eighteen, I got depressed and stayed depressed for a little over a year. For over a year, every single day was a battle with myself. For over a year, every single day felt heavy and pointless.
I have since made tremendous progress by becoming more self-aware, practicing self-love, and noticing the infinite blessings and possibilities in my life, but I still have days when those familiar old feelings sneak up on me.
I’m not always self-aware, I don’t always love myself, and sometimes I agonize over everything I don’t have or haven’t accomplished.
I call these days “zombie days.” I’ll just completely shut down and desperately look for ways to distract myself from my feelings.
I suspect we all have zombie days from time to time. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to not always be happy, but there are also simple ways to improve our mood when we’re feeling down.
Everybody is different, and everybody has different ways of dealing with pain, but if you’re looking for suggestions, you may find these helpful:
1. Step back and self-reflect. Whenever I start feeling depressed, I try to stop, reflect, and get to the root of my feelings.
2. Reach out to someone. I used to bottle up my feelings out of fear that I would be judged if I talked about them. I’ve since learned that reaching out to a loving, understanding person is one of the best things I can do.
3. Listen to music. Music can heal, put you in a better mood, make you feel less alone, or take you on a mental journey.
4. Cuddle or play with pets. I have really sweet and happy dogs that are always quick to shower me with love whenever they see me. Spending quality time with a loving pet can instantly make your heart and soul feel better.
5. Go for a walk. Walking always helps me clear my head and shed negative energy. It’s especially therapeutic if you choose to walk at a scenic location.
6. Drink something healthy and reinvigorating. For some reason, orange juice always puts me in a better mood and makes me feel revitalized and serene. There are many health and mood benefits of drinking orange juice and other fruit juices.
7. Write. Writing is usually the first thing I do when I’m feeling down. It always helps me get my thoughts and feelings out in front of me.
8. Take a nap. Sometimes we just need to recharge. I always feel better after getting some rest.
9. Plan a fun activity. Moping around never helps me feel any better, so it usually helps to plan something fun to do if I’m feeling up to it. It can be something as simple as creating my own vision board or something as big as planning a trip.
10. Do something spontaneous. Some of my favorite memories entail choices I made spontaneously. We should all learn to let go of routine every now and then and do something exciting and unplanned.
11. Prioritize. Sometimes I feel depressed when my priorities are out of balance. I try to make sure I’m giving a fair amount of attention to all the priorities in my life, such as work, relationships, health, and personal happiness.
12. Look through old photographs or snap some new ones. Sorting through old memories or capturing new ones usually puts a smile on my face.
13. Hug someone. I am definitely a hugger. Hugs are such an easy way to express love and care without having to say a word.
14. Laugh. Watch a funny movie or spend time with someone who has a good sense of humor. Laughing releases tension and has a natural ability to heal.
15. Cry. I don’t like crying in front of people, but whenever I have an opportunity to slink away and cry by myself, I always feel better afterwards. Crying releases pain.
16. Read back over old emails or text messages, or listen to old voicemails. Whenever I feel dejected or bad about myself, I like to read kind emails and comments from my blog readers or listen to cute voicemails from my grandmother. Doing so reminds me that I’m loved, thought about, and appreciated.
17. Reconnect with someone. Get back in touch with an old friend or a family member that you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Reconnecting with people almost always puts me in a good mood and fills my heart up with love.
18. Write yourself a letter. I try to separate myself from my ego and give myself a pep talk every now and then. Cicero said, “Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself.”
19. Try a deep breathing exercise. There are all kinds of deep breathing exercises out there. Find one you like and do it whenever you’re feeling stressed or overly emotional.
20. Cultivate gratitude. Practicing genuine gratitude on a daily basis has been a major source of healing in my life. When I step back and notice everything I have to be grateful for, it makes me feel like I have everything I need and that nothing is lacking. It makes me feel whole.
21. Re-watch a funny or inspiring YouTube video. I recommend Webcam 101 for Seniors. That video cheers me up every time. There are so many funny and inspiring videos online.
22. Bake something. Baking has always been therapeutic and entertaining for me. Plus, I can eat whatever I baked and share it with others afterward.
23. Get out of the house. I work from home, so a large majority of my time is spent indoors, planted in front of my laptop. I have to make a point to get out every now and then, whether it’s to get some fresh air or go out to eat with a friend.
24. Focus on what truly matters to you. Sometimes I forget what matters to me and what isn’t that important. Some things just aren’t worth getting too upset over.
25. Take a negative comment or situation and look for something positive about it. If someone says something negative to me or I get stuck in an unpleasant situation, sometimes it helps to look at it from a different angle. Perspective is everything.
26. Daydream. Take a mental vacation. Let your mind wander for a while.
27. Let some natural sunlight come in. Opening all the blinds and curtains and letting natural sunlight flood your home can help elevate your mood.
28. Take a mental health day. Sometimes we just need to take a day to clear our heads and nurture our souls. My mental health has a history of being a bit erratic, so nurturing it is a priority in my life.
29. Let go. This is a very simple mantra of mine. I usually say it to myself multiple times each day, which has been very liberating and empowering.
30. Read Tiny Buddha. And of course, you can always read Tiny Buddha! I personally love the quotes section. There is a category for almost every universal theme or emotion.
Passive aggressive behaviour can be difficult to recognise at first. It is recognisable by the disconnect between what the person says and what they do. Passive aggressive people tend to express their negative feelings in an indirect manner, rather than state their disapproval directly to the person concerned. There tends to be a great deal of hostility associated with passive aggressive behaviour and a great deal of this tends to be derived from miscommunication, failure to communicate or the assumption that the other person knows what they are thinking or feeling. From a relationship perspective, passive aggressive behaviour can be the most difficult communication style to deal with as you are not quite sure what you are dealing with.What is passive aggressive behaviour?
Passive aggressive behaviour is intended to control the other person e.g. control their emotions. It is then hoped that they can manipulate the other person into doing as they wish. If you have been on the receiving end of passive aggressive behaviour, you will know how easy it is to overreact. And, when you overreact, that is a clear sign that the other person is starting to control you.
Whatever type of passive aggressive behaviour you are experiencing, you need to stay calm and composed, so you can formulate the appropriate response. While it is often hurtful to be on the receiving end of this behaviour, remembering the following points can help you to stay calm:
Many instances of this behaviour are not actually intended to be hurtful
They want to control your emotions and behaviour
You can’t control their behaviour, but you can control your own which stops them from achieving their goal
It is worth noting the 2 types of passive aggressive person:
This person is trying to control and manipulate your, but they usually are not trying to be hurtful. Because they don’t want to hurt you, they avoid expressing any message which may be interpreted as being negative. They may pretend that everything is ok but eventually, their true feelings will seep out through their body language and tone of voice. It then becomes frustrating as you try to get them to open up and tell you the truth.
The big difference here is that this person is not just trying to control you, they are trying to make you feel bad. They are happy to hurt you. So much so, that it becomes a game whereby every interaction is a contest.
These people are usually angry about something but, rather than express their feelings with the person whom they are angry with; they deal with things by manipulating their victim. They try to get rid of their anger by making the victim angry, through manipulation. This allows them to act like the ‘good guy’ while the victim now appears to be the unreasonable one.
“Michael, give me a kiss before you go to the bus.”
“Because I’m going to kill myself while you’re at school today.”
I was in the second grade. We had just moved into a new home and this was a day close to the beginning of the school year. I had three siblings younger than myself and my mom was bipolar.
As an 7 year old, I didn’t know what bipolar meant officially, but I sure knew what the effects of her mental illness were on life in my household.
That was a long time ago and my mother did not kill herself that day. When she did, I was 33 and living in California — a world away from upstate New York.
My mother spent most of her life undiagnosed, which pretty much meant we just lived life and thought everything was normal. I remember the first time I had dinner at a friend’s house.
At my home, dinnertime meant an endless guilt inducing tirade of how horrible life was, how much the food cost that we were eating and how much life sucked in general. My dad slapping me because I had the temerity to tell my mom she should stop screaming at us kids.
At my friend’s house, we just ate dinner.
On the upswing side, there were the times when my mom wouldn’t sleep for days. The house was almost clean, we had dinner without sobbing and migraines, and life was OK. I don’t remember many of those days, though. It could be because the scary days stand out more in my memory; burned into my soul with a red hot branding iron.
The Reality of Life
For me, this was just how life was. I had no frame of reference other than my home. No kid does. Everything their parents do is the right thing because that is the only thing they know.
As parents, our children do what we do, say what we say and act how we act. Anyone who has ever heard their child swear like them knows that our kids learn exactly how to live from our examples.
Logic will not change our kids’ perceptions. School will not change them, Neighbors, friends, the cops, Social Services will not change the lessons kids have carved into their hearts by their parents.
We all learn from our parents, or the people who fill those roles. Sometimes we get to be 50, go to therapy and figure out our lives have real meaning and are worth living. That’s what I did.
But some people don’t do that
My dad died at 68 of his third heart attack, while working full time and taking care of my mom, who at that point was an invalid. My mom killed herself at age 63, 6 months after my dad died. My brother died at 43 of a massive heart attack. His son died at 17 of a massive heart attack. My sister has been in and out of mental institutions her entire adult life.
I can’t say for sure any of those things would be different if my mom had not been mentally ill. I suspect they might have been, because her illness was such a big part of our lives, but I really don’t know.
What I do know
Mental illness is a real thing that touches more lives than just the person who has it. If a person is a parent and mentally ill, I can say from experience that a parent’s mental illness changes their kids’ lives. I would guess probably not for the better.
I know life isn’t like that for everyone, and don’t mean to imply that it is. I don’t know what my life growing up would have been like if my mom had had some help. What I do know is that when she was diagnosed at age 49, she used that diagnosis as an excuse for how she lived the rest of her life.
She wasn’t threatening suicide while I was at school anymore. But when I stopped by on my way to work, I would find her chainsmoking Chesterfield Kings, staring out the window and telling me, “Someday you’re going to come in here and find me dead, because I’ve smoked myself to death. That will be a good day for me.”
What’s the big deal
I’m reading back through this story and wondering why I wrote it. I think maybe to share my experience in the hope it will help someone.
When we’re parents, we have an additional obligation to take care of our children. If that means going to the doctor and taking care of ourselves, we should do that.
When we’re parents, and know we need help, that is important to communicate to our children. Adults need help sometimes and deserve to have it.
I’m not manic depressive. But I learned as a child that how my parents acted was how adults behaved in the world. I learned to be dramatic in everyday life. That was cool when I was a performer, but not so cool in any other area of my life.
I did get help, but I didn’t realize I needed it until I was 50.
I wanted something different in my life and became a very positive person. Not in the way of never having experienced troubles in my life but in the way that I have, and went on to create a new understanding of life that I like much better.
One of the challenging things about a mental health crisis is that often, even the people that care about you aren’t quite sure how to be there for you. After getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I lost a lot of friends during a time when I most needed support from them.
In some cases, the real issue wasn’t a lack of caring — I believe that some people simply didn’t know how to respond to what was happening. That’s perfectly understandable, but I truly wish that more people had at least tried to be there for me. Here are a few of the things that friends did that meant a lot to me, as well as some things I wish more people would have done:
Me: Hello God. God: Hello… Me: I’m falling apart. Can you put me back together? God: I’d rather not. Me: Why? God: Because you’re not a puzzle. Me: What about all the pieces of my life that fall to the ground? God: Leave them there for a while. They fell for a reason. Let them be there for a while and then decide if you need to take any of those pieces back. Me: You don’t understand! I’m breaking! God: No, you don’t understand. You’re transcending, evolving. What you feel are growing pains. You’re getting rid of the things and people in your life that are holding you back. The pieces are not falling down. The pieces are being put in place. Relax. Take a deep breath and let those things you no longer need fall down. Stop clinging to pieces that are no longer for you. Let them fall. Let them go. Me: Once I start doing that, what will I have left? God: Only the best pieces of yourself. Me: I’m afraid to change. God: I keep telling you: YOU’RE NOT CHANGING! YOU’RE BECOMING! Me: Becoming, Who? God: Becoming who I created you to be! A person of light, love, charity, hope, courage, joy, mercy, grace and compassion. I made you for so much more than those shallow pieces you decided to adorn yourself with and that you cling to with so much greed and fear. Let those things fall off you. I love you! Don’t change! Become! Don’t change! Become! Become who I want you to be, who I created. I’m gonna keep telling you this until you remember. Me: There goes another piece. God: Yes. Let it be like this. Me: So… I’m not broken? God: No, but you’re breaking the darkness, like dawn. It’s a new day. Become!! Become who you really are!!”
Want to classify an abuser correctly? Here’s how you spot each, per Durvsula:
A narcissist lacks empathy, is grandiose, entitled, constantly seeks validation and is arrogant. “When they do a bad thing, they feel a fair amount of guilt and shame,” says Durvsula.
According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissists can also become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment. They belittle others in order to appear superior. They exaggerate their achievements and talents. They monopolize conversations and disparage those they consider inferior.
Narcissists also have major problems adapting to change. They easily feel slighted and have secret feelings of insecurity, shame and humiliation.
Narcissism affects more men than women and signs begin to show in teens to early adulthood. It’s unclear if narcissism is an inherited characteristic or if there’s a neurobiological cause behind it. It’s also suspected it could be caused by one’s environment, either through excessive adoration or excessive criticism.
A psychopath has no guilt, no shame and no remorse. “They do bad things and they don’t care. They’re great serial killers or hired assassins,” says Durvsula.
PET scans of the brains of psychopaths show the section that serves empathy “doesn’t light up for them,” says Durvsula. In other words, when they think of people in pain, they are unable to process it, and make decisions related to it.
More concerning, a psychopath’s brain actually shows an increased response in the ventral striatum, an area known to be involved in pleasure, when imagining others in pain, reports ScienceDaily.
“They’re cool as can be. They could lie on a lie detector test. That’s how they get away with stuff,” says Durvsula. “They could get pulled over … and have a dead body in the trunk and they wouldn’t care.”
One study showed that children who witness domestic violence may be more likely to turn into psychopaths as adults, though it is not a cause-and-effect situation.
“The results do not prove that witnessing domestic violence in childhood is a cause of psychopathy,” lead study author Monika Dargis, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told LiveScience. The exact reasons behind the potential link are unclear, say researchers, but it’s thought that children who witness manipulative and coercive behaviors from abusers may eventually develop these behaviors as adults.
A sociopath shares all the same traits as a psychopath, but the difference between them and psychopaths, says Durvsula, is that a psychopath is born—their disorder may be genetic—and a sociopath is made. Something bad has happened to this person to make them this way, explains Durvsula, “like the kid who grows up in a really rough neighborhood who learns to be a bully to get by.”
Bill Eddy, licensed clinical social worker, tells Psychology Today that a sociopath’s driving force is to dominate others. They like the feeling of power and control (hello, abusive partners). They also tend to be extremely fast talkers, will switch back and forth quickly between charm and threats, and will elicit gut feelings of fear in those around them.
“Sociopaths can be predators, so you may naturally feel uncomfortable being alone with them,” writes Eddy. “You may suddenly get the feeling that you want to get out of a situation. Go, and ask questions later.”
Proceed With Caution
According to Durvsula, dating one of the above types of people who begins to show abusive tendencies could mean serious trouble.
“It could be a very dangerous thing. Hurting someone gives them power. They [may] dispose of you if you get in their way.”
Self-love is so essential, and its becoming increasingly important now as we individually and collectively navigate through challenging times.
But what is self-love really?
Self-love is a concept that’s thrown around a lot… But what does it really mean?
At the very core, self-love is about making an internal commitment to your own mental health, as well as spiritual, and physical well-being.
Self-love is about accepting yourself as you are, but then also taking actions that support your growth.
Taking the actions that are nurturing and supportive of you, empowers you to accept yourself more. To honor your weaknesses as well as strengths and to begin to have more compassion, and yes love for yourself and who you really are, which is a beautifully unique human being.
Self-love is where you love yourself first, so you can show up in relationships fully and truly be there for, and love others.
An Essential Foundation
Self-love is the foundation required for you to be able to overflow love and be of service in the world, and in the highest interest of all.
Love of self is not being self-centered or narcissistic, rather, its about really getting in touch with yourself. With the things that truly make you feel good, that support your mental health, physical well-being, and your own happiness.
And really, self-love is essential because it is the force of love — true Love — Love with a capital L that opens the doorway for higher Divine Light to fill you.
Love is an essential foundation not only for your own happiness, and your ability to love others, but its also an essential foundation for your spiritual awakening, for you to expand your consciousness, raise your vibration, and truly experience a higher level of light in your life.
How to Practice Self-Love
While self-love is so essential. Practicing it and really embodying it can be challenging at times, and especially in times of challenge.
And yet, when you make a commitment to practice self-love, and to make the time to do the things that are important to you, that help you to feel good, grow, and thrive…
The self-love you cultivate becomes and important and powerful ally, one that supports you in pushing through and moving past limiting beliefs, blockages and personal weaknesses so you can truly align with a life you love, and so that you can truly shine.
Shift Into Self-Love Now
So, let’s dive in…
5 Ways to Feel Self-Love Instantly!
Right here and now can be a powerful new beginning where you recommit to you, to practice loving yourself, and honoring and supporting you! But how do you do this? Let’s start by looking at the 5 biggest things.
1. Make An Internal Commitment
The first way to shift is to recognize the importance of self-love and to then make an internal commitment and intention to love yourself more fully, and exactly as you are.
Setting a self-love intention and really committing to it changes everything.
Have you ever heard that change happens in an instant? It really is so true.
In this moment, if you commit: “I now choose to practice self-love in my life. I now choose to treat myself with self-love, respect and self-care”…
Everything in your life can begin to change to come into alignment with this new intention and truth.
A powerful affirmation to support you in this is: “I now love and approve of myself.”
2. Quiet The Inner Critic
The second key is to become aware of and begin to quiet and dismiss the voice of judgement that is your “inner critic”.
We all have an inner critic at some level. It’s the inner voice that judges the shit out of you. It may tell you-you’re not good enough, that you’re a failure, that you’re worthless, ugly, stupid, etc.
You may hear the inner critic in your own voice, or it may sound like the voice of a parent, sibling, or some other authority figure who once made you feel inferior and made you feel like the truth of you is not enough, and so you put on a mask or tried to hide your light.
Well… As someone who learned to take off the masks and come out of hiding, I’m here today to remind you that who you are, is exactly who you’re meant to be.
And when you take off the masks, and realign with your highest authenticity, bringing your true gifts to the world…
That is exactly what the world needs, and is also what will help to make you feel happy, fulfilled, and to thrive.
As a self-love practice, pay attention to your thoughts. Observe your thoughts. Notice when you’re having thoughts that are out of alignment with the intention you set to love yourself, and to be kind and compassionate towards yourself.
When you do have judgemental or downright mean thoughts about yourself arise, remember that you can choose to dismiss them. You don’t have to buy into them or believe them, and rather you can choose to simply ignore them and let them go.
You can imagine that you’re putting the judgmental thought into a balloon and releasing it into the light… Visualize it floating up and away and then consciously return to love.
“I am worthy of self-love”
“I love and approve of myself.”
3. Lean Into The Present Moment
The third way to instantly and powerfully shift into a state of self-love is to lean in to present moment, to become fully present in the moment that is now.
Know that regardless of whatever is happening in your life, nothing has to change in the external for you to fully love yourself.
So amidst whatever you’re doing, if you’re washing dishes, if you’re driving to work, give yourself the gift of the present by becoming fully present in the now.
By leaning into the present moment and embrace it. Feeling the sensation of the air around you… The feel of your hands on the steering wheel, or the feel of the warm water on your hands as you’re washing dishes. Feel… See what’s really happening around you, observe and take it all in. Listen and hear the sounds, know … And be fully present, doing what you’re doing.
And then, remember your intention, and choose to cultivate a sense of love now. Remember that in every moment, you are directly connected to the divine love of the infinite, which flows throughout creation, which is underlying every moment, and it’s simply a matter of your leaning into love, tuning into love, and letting love flow through you.
So lean in, open your heart, tune into love and let love circulate through your being.
Remember that it’s love that opens the doorway for the light to fill you. So when you become present, when you consciously choose to embody a state of love, in the present moment, any moment, any activity, whatever you’re doing, can be an opportunity to expand your consciousness, to raise your vibration, to love yourself more, and to shine the truth of your authentic light.
4. Let Go Of What No Longer Serves You
The fourth way to love yourself more is to become aware of how you’re acting out of alignment with love.
What things are you doing… What actions are you taking… What habits do you have that aren’t loving, and aren’t supporting your well-being?
What do you keep doing that’s not assisting you in shining more of your divine truth and authentic light?
When you become aware of the many little things you’re doing that are actually weighing your down… You can then choose to let them go, and replace those things with actions and habits that are good for you, that are rewarding, joyful and in alignment with helping yourself grow into the type of person you’d like to become.
Make time in your schedule for the things that recharge you,that help you to feel good, feel energized, inspired, and that help you to shine your highest light.
What do you need to let go of to do this?
To be able to prioritize fun, play, laughter, inner peace, balance, and harmony?
Maybe instead of going to your phone and browsing Facebook first thing in the morning you choose to meditate straight away.
Perhaps instead of snacking on chips and candy when you’re feeling low energy in the afternoon, you go for a walk around the block instead.
Perhaps instead of downing half a bottle of wine Friday evening because you feel stressed, you choose to check out that relaxing and de-stressing Yoga class, or take a salt bath with a big mug of herbal tea.
These are just a couple of examples. And really, this is so personal.
The key is to gain awareness into your actions and your impulses to action and start choosing to act on those inner impulses that are truly in alignment with your intention to love yourself more.
When you find yourself stuck in old patterns, habits or addictions that are not nurturing for you… Ask your soul for guidance as to how to let these things go, and to find new creative solutions for what will actually support you in loving and nurturing yourself more.
5. Take Action and Create Meaningful Process
A big part of self-love is committing to and getting to work creating, and taking action steps in the direction of what’s meaningful for you… In other words to start taking steps in the direction of your purpose.
You might have a little side project that felt feels meaningful for you, that you feel good about your self when you’re working on it, and yet it seems to get pushed aside. This is unique to you, it could be anything from working on a scrapbook, de-cluttering your home, creating a quilt for your grandchild, taking a course, writing your book, creating a website, offering services, working in the garden, etc…
How are you being called to be of service in the world to be of service to others in a way you love and enjoy?
What would be fulfilling, inspiring and enjoyable to work on?
When you take steps in that direction, following your heart and creating in a way that’s meaningful for you… It feels incredible. When you then keep creating in a way that’s of service in the world, and in the highest interest of all, that is one of the most fulfilling, rewarding and loving things that you can do.
Shift Into Being of Service
If you’re feeling bad about yourself, one of the easiest ways to shift is to take your focus off of yourself and direct it towards being of service to others. How can you help?
This is not to say run yourself thin… Do what you need to do to recharge yourself, but then keep in mind how you may be able to serve and assist others.
This could be as simple as sharing a genuine smile, and as complex as starting a non-profit.
The key is to get in touch with yourself through self-love, and then listen to and act on your inner guidance which allows your highest path to appear.
Oftentimes, when you’re helping others, doing charity work, and taking steps to have a positive influence on the world around you, that is what feels most rewarding.
Return To Self-Love
In an instant… Right now… Make the commitment, observe, and choose to shift into self-love.
Choose to shift into taking action, to be your biggest supporter and encourager, take care of you so that you’re able to shine so bright that you can overflow love out beyond you to make a difference in the world.
Making a difference in the world, being of service to others in a way you love and enjoy that is also in the highest interest of all …That is the true power of self-love. And yes, this is truly possible for you now.
It starts and unfolds one step at a time.
22 Simple Ways to Inspire Self-Love
Here are a few more ideas for little steps you can take, that when added together and compounded equate to really big shifts:
Write out on a sheet of paper the strengthens and things about your personality others might admire.
Start a personal healthy eating challenge, prioritizing and choosing the types of food and drink that nourish your body and support your well-being.
Practice self-love affirmations like: “I accept myself unconditionally”
Get creative and express yourself through writing, color, movement or some other way.
Listen to a guided meditation and just be.
Read a fun or inspiring book.
Tune into the things you’re grateful for.
Spend time in nature.
Prioritize time for fun and play in your schedule.
Practice journaling to process your thoughts and emotions.
Set boundaries with the people in your life.
Forgive yourself for the things you’ve done or left undone in the past.
Contemplate what you truly need and value in your life. What is most important to you.
Release the need to gain approval from other people.
Start an exercise or movement routine.
Optimize your sleep! Know how much sleep you need.
Make a list of all the things in your life that are working well for you.
De-clutter and clean your space.
Stop comparing yourself to other people!
Stop worrying about what other people think.
Study something new that excites and interests you.
Work on the projects that are meaningful for you.
Let Self-Love Grow and Blossom From Within You
Choose to shift. Choose to cultivate love. Cultivate your inner light, and let your light shine.
Here’s how to tell if you’re a blamer: When something goes wrong, do you immediately want to know whose fault it is or do you make room for empathy and accountability? If you’re guilty of the former, you’re probably a bit of a blamer—But take heart, you’re in good company. In this animation by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Brené Brown shares a funny story illustrating the magnitude to which she’s a blamer (spoiler: it ends with her getting hung up on by her husband). Brown goes on to share some research and insights into this toxic behavior—Here are two interesting takeaways:
Blame releases discomfort and pain: We often try to fault others for our mistakes because it makes us feel like we’re still in control. “I’d rather it be my fault than no one’s fault,” says Brown. But leaning into the discomfort of mistakes is how we can learn from them. “Here’s what we know from the research,” says Brown, “blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Blaming is a way that we discharge anger.”
Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain.
Blame is faster than accountability:Accountability is a vulnerable process that takes courage and time. “It means me calling you and saying, hey my feelings were really hurt about this, and talking,” says Brown. “People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold people accountable. Blamers spend all of our energy raging for 15 seconds and figuring out whose fault something is,” adds Brown. It’s difficult to maintain relationships when you’re a blamer, because when something goes wrong, we’re too busy making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault it is, instead of slowing down, listening, and leaving enough space for empathy to arise.
There’s a certain misconception that children are “too young” and don’t have enough life experience to have a mental illness, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies show the age of onset for mental disorders usually occurs in childhood or adolescence. Of course, these mental disorders are often unrecognized by our peers and parents, and both diagnosis and treatment typically don’t occur until years later.
If you live with bipolar disorder, there’s a chance you grew up with it. But what signs might there be in childhood? To find out, we asked our mental health and bipolar disorder communities to share “signs” they grew up with bipolar disorder they can recognize now as adults.
From childhood depression to being a “problem child” in school, we hope their answers can give you insight into your own childhood, or shine a light on why a child in your life could need some extra help and understanding.
Here’s what our community had to say:
“As a child, I was always way more sensitive than other children. I would break down for hours and cry. I thought about my death and my family’s deaths abnormally often. At 10, I lost parts of my hair from being so depressed, or I would have these hyper attacks where I would laugh for no reason for a long time and I could never stop talking. I’d also be cleaning my whole room over and over again. It was exhausting.” — Morgan T.
“Not knowing who you are without your disorder. I have become comfortable with my sadness; it’s all I know. If I have an ‘OK’ day, I don’t even know how to feel about myself. I don’t feel like me when I’m not depressed.” — Shannon M.
“I wasn’t properly diagnosed until I reached my 40s, but looking back, my erratic sexual and spending behavior, in addition to my bouts of depression, should have been major red flags. I had no idea it was due to bipolar; I just figured I was ‘screwed up.’” — Jessi F.
“I started cycling at 12 years old so I have no idea what the Alysha without bipolar disorder is like. It’s also why I say ‘I am bipolar,’ instead of ‘I have bipolar.’” — Alysha F.
“Irritability. I was always irritable, no matter what. That’s why, when I was diagnosed, everything I felt started making sense.” — Katelyn S.
“I was always super sensitive and prone to anger outbursts. I could also focus on something so intently the world would fade away. I’m still angry and sensitive but therapy is helping me get through it.” — Beth B.
“Thinking I was invincible at 14. I would sneak out at night and go on walks because I couldn’t sleep, I would still wake up in time for school but could only sleep four or five hours a night. I walked a lot just because I had the energy during the day and then more at night.” — Cassandra K.
“Growing up, my parents and sibling thought I had inherited my father’s extreme anger and violence. My teachers and fellow students thought I was just lashing out and enjoyed getting into fights at school, constantly getting suspended, until ninth grade when I was asked to leave. This all started when I was around 5 years old, but it was not until I turned 12 that a doctor told me I had bipolar disorder. Growing up and constantly being misunderstood, from my feelings to my behaviors, is one sign I grew up with bipolar disorder.” — Samantha W.
“Everyone else thought something was ‘wrong’ with me. I had impulse control issues and was so afraid I’d be disliked that I’d lie to be liked. I was diagnosed 21 years ago.” — Sasha S.
“The cycles I had with my moods. I would do great in the spring and summer, but as soon as it hit August and fall started approaching, it all went downhill. I always knew it was around the time that school was starting that I would start to cycle into an episode, so it would increase my anxiety and I would absolutely dread going to school. I never realized it was a sign until recently, when my team and I figured out my cycles and it all just clicked and made sense. I was diagnosed at 17, but honestly I think I’ve been bipolar since I was probably between 8 and 10 years old.” — Megan D.
“I would have painting sprees. I wouldn’t want to paint for a while, and then all of a sudden I would do like two paintings a day in middle school and high school, convinced I was getting visions from God, and it was my duty to share my genius with the world. Sometimes, I fantasized about my death, wondering what it would be like at my funeral and how no one would come except my mom and dad, or people would stomp on my grave and laugh at me. In my freshman year of college, I didn’t sleep and stayed up all night doing homework full of energy, and I always forgot to eat. I became very religious and believed I was getting visions from God again. For the first time in my life, I was a social butterfly. I did many paintings and even started a website out of the blue. Then I crashed for the first time in my life and started having suicidal thoughts. I have always either been heavily invested with something and then suddenly not interested in that thing or activity at all.” — Zoe S.
“I never slept, but was never really tired. I just chalked it up to being a kid and having energy, and then as a teen, having a night job and then having to do homework once I got home. I also repressed everything.” — Morgan W.
“I was very shy, reserved and sensitive. I had a lot of fears and cried very easily. But then there were times when I would stay up for days with little to no sleep, cleaning and rearranging the house. My mom thought it was odd but harmless so she didn’t stress over it. As soon as I was diagnosed, it all made sense.” — Courtney B.
“I spent weeks remodeling my bedroom, covering every inch of wall with collages and pictures. I even built a table. Then, a year later, I ripped all of it off the walls in an hour leaving blotches of drywall and became depressed for weeks. I was 16.” — Emma T.
“As far back as 6 years old, I would do great in the fall with school and family. Every spring without fail, and still at age 49, I have three weeks of productivity and fun followed by three weeks of the most rage and hostility I had ever known. Those were my first memories in general.” — Beth P.
“Being described as ‘the problem child’ because people thought you were just dramatic and a mess; they didn’t realize the behavior was uncontrollable due to the mental illness.” — Sabrina G.
“When I say I don’t feel well it means I’ve reached my limit of what I can handle and my symptoms are becoming overwhelming.” – Laina M.
“What I really mean is, ‘I am in excruciating pain, and I want to go home to curl up in bed and cry because it is so bad.’” – Mattie M.
“It usually means I feel utter exhaustion, overheating, dizziness, and pain. They all sort of bounce off each other. I need to sit, and be cool and still and recover. I cannot give you anymore of me, because I don’t have anything left to give.” – Maria B.
2. “Daily tasks have become too much.”
“I just got diagnosed with MS [multiple sclerosis]. When I say I don’t feel well it means I’m physically and mentally done for the day, and it’s usually because I’ve been fighting just to do normal things like walk or take a shower. It is a completely exhausting and demanding disease.” – Kristen S.
“[It means] don’t give me a task to do.” – Sarah L.
3. “Every part of my body hurts.”
“When I say, ‘I don’t feel good’ I mean, ‘every single part of my body hurts, I haven’t slept, my head is foggy, my abdomen is incredibly tender, I feel nauseous and I want to cry.’” – Kelly C.
“When I tell someone I don’t feel good, it really means: I woke up this morning from feeling pelvic and lower abdominal pain, along with severe nausea that makes me not want to eat anything even though I need to eat, lower back pain that makes me want to sit all day, head or neck pain that forces my head needing support with pillows and an overall feeling of being worn down. Please trust me when I say I don’t feel good and believe me when I feel it’s best to stay in and rest.” – Sara T.
4. “I’m at my breaking point.”
“I don’t usually let people know how I am feeling – so if I say ‘I don’t feel good’ or ‘I am hurting today’ that means currently I am unable to function at all, my pain levels are through the roof, making me nauseous, cranky and unable to focus on much of anything. Even heating up a can of soup is likely more than I am able to handle or if I do push through to do something like that… it will make everything exponentially worse.” – Noelle M.
“When I say, ‘I don’t feel good,’ it means that I have already gone through many levels of pain that will make anyone cry and I’m now about to collapse.” – Sundari L.
5. “I’m exhausted.”
“[It means] that today’s show is cancelled.” – Lauren P.
“[It means] ‘I’m tired and want to be left alone for a while,’ without sounding rude.” – Tracy L.
“I’m beyond exhausted, my disorder is winning today, but I’m a warrior and will rise again.” – Lisa J.
6. “I don’t have any mental or physical energy left.”
“I can’t focus. I’m exhausted. It takes too much energy: mental and physical to even be or feel like a human right now. I want a gold star for just showing up right now.” – Hailey B.
7. “I’m ‘pangry’ (in pain and angry).”
“[It] might really mean… That my pain level has reached the ‘hangry’ stage but it’s pangry: in pain and angry about it and it’s easier to say ‘I don’t feel good’ than to say I’m physically and mentally exhausted, headache, dizzy, fatigue, joint pain and skin pain… Boils down to the shoulder shrug eye roll, ‘I don’t feel good’ (you wouldn’t understand anyways).” – Alyssa J.
8. “I feel worse than usual today.”
“I never really feel ‘well,’ but today I feel much worse than usual.” – Stephanie T.
“I never feel ‘well’ but today is extreme and I don’t have the energy to explain that.” – Kate B.
“If I say this, it means something is wrong beyond my normal everyday fatigue and pain from Sjogren’s syndrome. I say this and ‘I don’t feel right’ for when I need my husband to keep a closer watch on me or I need to go to the ER. It means my pain is beyond a 10, that my heart rate is too high and I can feel my body shutting down. It’s easier for me if I have key phrases that people know mean something is wrong versus I’m sick with the flu or having a flare-up.” – KC F.
9. “I don’t want to be judged for explaining how I’m really feeling.”
“[It means that] I need to lay down and rest my body without feeling guilty about it.” – Charissa K.
“I have a migraine. Or I just don’t want to feel judged/bore you with a true explanation of how I’m feeling.” – Gabrielle M.
“I’m not OK, I’m so utterly exhausted, but I don’t want to be thought of as ‘the complainer,’ so let’s just leave it at that.” – Kelly H.
10. “I need help.”
“It’s always my way of asking for help… I can’t fake it anymore but I’m still trying to. It’s not easy for me to say ‘I need your help’ so I’ll just say ‘I don’t feel good’ and hope you understand.” – Christina B.
“I want someone to acknowledge my pain and baby me for a bit.” – Kim B.
“When I tell people I don’t feel good it means I need a hug. Pain can’t be taken away but a hug makes it feel you aren’t alone.” – Michelle T.
11. “I need time to recharge.”
“I’m stressed or exhausted and need a break. Or I am out of spoons and need to sit for a while and recharge a little.” – Malorie A.
“’I don’t feel well’ can mean I’m just a little lightheaded or it can mean I’m coming up on my limit. Unfortunately, it’s the latter. It means: as much as I want to continue on, this is my subtle way of asking for a break or to relax.” – Becka K.
12. “I feel like I’m fading away.”
“I just feel like I’m decaying from the inside out and still act like it’s nothing.” – Aliciana W.
“I feel like I am decaying. The pain, the fatigue, the shame from not being able to function as I need to in order to be a functioning member of society. My insides are doing flips.” – Alexandria N.
13. “Something’s wrong, but I’m trying to hold it together.”
“I don’t know if I want to throw up or pass out, but I’m just going to pretend everything is OK and hold it together.” – Kim D.
“I’m either in severe pain, on the verge of puking, or too fatigued to take another step, or all of the above. There’s nothing you can do to help me except let me rest and take my meds so I try not to make a big deal out of it.” – Lizzie T.
14. “I’m tired of explaining my chronic illness.”
“I don’t feel well means I’m sick of explaining my chronic illness to people.” – Marlene G.
“[It means] I’m so fatigued and in so much pain I don’t really function. But I can’t say that to most people, so a ‘today, I don’t feel too good’ is what they get.” – Michelle M.
“I don’t feel good, chronic pain translation: I feel like you would feel if you had the flu, started your period and just got hit by a ball bat in every joint of your body simultaneously… Emotional, moody, stiff, fatigued, cramping, headache and body aches.” – Angela D.
15. “I can’t hide my pain anymore.”
“I’m in so much pain that I can no longer hide it from you, I want to fall asleep and never wake up, I feel like I haven’t slept in weeks, I’m probably struggling to stand up right now.” – Chantel T.
If you are struggling with the stress of your chronic illness or if any of this feels very familiar, please reach out to someone you trust. You’re not alone.
Below are some helpful articles from our chronic illness community:
You wake up an hour before work and rush to get ready. You shower at lightning speed and grab an energy bar and coffee before running out the door. Still, work leaves you feeling discombobulated and overwhelmed. Long before the week is over, you’re burned out and know you won’t hit this week’s goals.
How do you get out of this miserable rut? One word: Routines.
Morning and evening routines prime you for success. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do work that actually matters. They keep you from stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done.
All it takes is a bit of discipline, along with routines that will set you up for success. Here are the what and why of routines, along with 12 morning and evening routines you can implement to create more perfect days.
First, let’s define what routine means: A routine is a sequence of actions that you do repeatedly.
Brushing your teeth nightly and getting ready for bed is a routine. Waking up at 6:00 AM and exercising every morning is a routine. Purchasing a bagel and reading the news before you head to work every morning is a routine. Even eating chips while watching Netflix is a routine. They’re all actions that happen again and again, a rhythm in your daily life.
That doesn’t make them all good routines—they’re simply routines by virtue of being done regularly. Helpful or not, every routine is powerful.
Routines Create High Achievers
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey writes about the habits, routines, and rituals of hundreds of artists, including Frederic Chopin, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, and Ernest Hemingway. Even though their routines varied wildly, each individual had steps they followed to put them in an optimal state of mind.
After studying the great artists, Currey came to this conclusion:
In the right hands, [a routine] can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.
Productivity guru and experimenter extraordinaire Tim Ferris has five morning ritualsto get him into a productive state of mind: making his bed, meditating, exercise, drinking tea, and journaling. Performance coach Tony Robbins also uses a morning routine, which includes a cold shower, breathing exercises, and meditation to prepare him for each day.
High achievers tend to find routines that work for them and then stick to them—it’s typically something they credit as a core to their success.
Habits vs. Routines vs. Rituals: Wondering what the difference is between habits, routines, and rituals? Habits are things that we do automatically–things like checking your email first thing in the morning or putting your keys in a specific spot when you get home. Routines are usually a collection of habits or actions you do on a regular basis to bring order to your day—checking your email, then writing your day’s to-do list, then checking your team’s project management tool as a way of getting the day started. Rituals are like routines. The main difference is the attitude behind the actions: Taking a walk everyday at lunch could be considered a routine if you think of it as something you need to do for your productivity. Or it could be a ritual if you think of it as a way to break out of the mundane and enjoy nature. While we’re focusing on habits and routines here, most routines could be turned into rituals with a change of perspective.
Routines Put Our Brains on Autopilot
But what makes the routines of high achievers so powerful? As it turns out, we’re creatures of habit and can use that to accomplish whatever we want. In The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg details how habits put our brains into an automatic state where little or no willpower is required.
It works like this:
Step 1: Something happens that serves as a cue to your brain, putting it into “automatic” mode. A simple example is waking up. When I wake up, my brain immediately knows that it’s time to turn on the coffee machine. This habit has been ingrained in my brain over years.
Step 2: Execute the routine. This is where I actually turn on the coffee machine, wait for it to brew, pour it into my favorite mug, sit in a chair by the kitchen window, and finally drink the coffee.
Step #3: Reap the rewards of the routine. The delicious flavor and high-octane caffeine reinforce the routine so that the next morning I repeat it again.
Making coffee is just one small routine, but the daily consistency of it helps keep me going. Imagine if other, more powerful tasks that can empower you to accomplish big things came as easy as making coffee?
This is the power of routines. The small repeated actions can have an exponential effect. By implementing routines in the morning and evening, you can prime yourself for maximum productivity each day.
Morning Routines to Help You Start the Day Off Right
If you win the morning, you win the day
Ferris’s and Robbins’s morning routines both include meditation, while the routines of many others include starting the day off with a fresh cup of coffee. Regardless of your morning schedule, here are some of the best ways to start your day and prepare for success.
There are exceptions, such as Winston Churchillwho liked to say in bed until 11:00 AM, but many high achievers rise early in order to prepare for the day. In those early hours, they can execute their routines while the rest of the world is asleep.
Consider these examples:
Square CEO Jack Dorsey rises at 5:30 so that he can go for a six-mile jog.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson wakes at 5:45 to exercise and eat a proper breakfast.
GM CEO Dan Akerson rises between 4:30 and 5:00 so he can talk to GE Asia.
Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 4:30 so he can send emails and be at the gym by 5:00.
Even if they aren’t naturally morning larks–the opposite of night owls–they’ve trained themselves to wake up early for the many benefits an early rise can bring. Those include increased productivity with fewer distractions in the early morning, greater creativity because you can work when your mind is fresh, and less stress if you use that extra time for meditation or quiet contemplation. It could make you happier, too: Researchers in one study found that morning-type individuals reported higher levels of positivity and well-being.
If there’s one habit you should adopt to improve your life, it’s making your bed every day. That, at least, is the advice from Navy Seal Admiral William H. McCraven:
If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.
Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
It’s all about the small things.
Affirmations are positive statements you can use to reframe how you think about yourself and the day to come. They are a way of visualizing the good things that will come to you that day and overcoming negative self-talk.
When you actively design and write out your affirmations to be in alignment with what you want to accomplish and who you need to be to accomplish it—and commit to repeating them daily (ideally out loud)—they immediately make an impression on your subconscious mind. Your affirmations go to work to transform the way you think and feel so you can overcome your limiting beliefs and behaviors and replace them with those you need to succeed.
Some simple affirmations you could use are:
I will do great things today
I will make $XXX this year
I am a highly respected [insert occupation]
I am achieving [big goal]
Your aim is to affirm and visualize the things you want to happen. As you focus on these things, you begin to believe that you can and will achieve them, which then enables you to take action on them.
Although it might sound New-Age-y to some, affirmations are proven methods of self-improvement. As clinical psychologist Dr. Carmen Harra says. “Much like exercise, they raise the level of feel-good hormones and push our brains to form new clusters of ‘positive thought’ neurons.”
Get some exercise
There are few things more transformative than exercise. Exercising in the morning increases blood flow, releases endorphins, and strengthens your body. It prepares you for the coming day, increases your overall energy levels, and helps you remain in optimal health. Numerous studies have shown that exercise is key in fighting depression and anxiety, and a Finnish study suggested that exercise is even correlated with increased wealth.
Implementing a daily routine of exercise will prepare you for maximum success through the day. And it doesn’t even have to be a full gym workout to reap the benefits: A brisk walk in your neighborhood, a 7-minute workout, or a quick yoga session could get you going.
Need more motivation to get moving? Try tracking your activity automatically with Zapier, an app automation tool. With logs of your runs or workouts, you can see your progress and challenge yourself to keep at it.Create detailed Google Calendar events from Runkeeper activitiesUse this ZapArchive Runkeeper activities in Google SheetsUse this ZapAdd completed MapMyFitness workouts to Google SheetsUse this ZapSee more Runkeeper and Google Sheets integrations powered by
Eat a proper breakfast
The fuel you consume in the morning has a significant effect on your ongoing performance—and thus, it should be the best fuel possible.
These might seem like minor things–waking up early, making your bed, saying your affirmations, exercising, eating a good breakfast, and taking a cold shower–but taken together into one consistent routine you do every day, you’re well prepped to face anything that happens after. A morning routine takes the stress out of the start of the day and puts you on the best footing from the get-go.
Of course, customize your morning routine for your own preferences. The SAVERS graphic above from James Altucher’s article and podcast with Hal Elrod can help you remember a few other things you can add to your morning routine: silence, visualization, reading, and scribbling. For more inspiration, My Morning Routine offers 200+ examples of morning routines you can adapt and adopt for yourself.
Evening Routines That Set the Tone for the Next Day
The close of each day is just as important as the start. By implementing evening routines, you ready yourself for the next morning, recharge with a restful night, and minimize the resistance you encounter in getting things done.
Prepare goals for the next day
Determining your objectives for the coming day does two things. First, it allows you to identify your most important tasks in advance—before all the pressures of the day arrive on your doorstep. Ideally, the first few hours of each day should be spent conquering your most challenging task. This idea has been given various names, such as “eating the frog” and “slaying the dragon.”
Identifying daily priorities might seem like an obvious or insignificant step to take, but writing your most important tasks down the previous night turns your subconscious mind loose while you sleep and frees you from worrying about being unprepared. You’ll probably find that you wake up with great ideas related to the tasks or conversations that you hadn’t even considered!
Reflect on the day’s achievements
It can be easy to lose sight of victories after a long day. Taking just a few moments at the end of the day to reflect on and celebrate your wins puts things into the proper perspective and gives you encouragement for the coming day. It helps you overcome the discouragement that often comes with setbacks.
In addition to asking at the start of his day “What good shall I do this day?”, Benjamin Franklin asked every evening “What good have I done today?”.
If you reflect on the things you did right, on your successes, that allows you to celebrate every little success. It allows you to realize how much you’ve done right, the good things you’ve done in your life.
You can do this in a variety of ways, including jotting things down in a blank Moleskine notebook, a gratitude journal, or an app on your phone. You can automatically track your productivity with RescueTime and Zapier as well: Get daily RescueTime summary reports via GmailUse this ZapTurn new time entries in Toggl into daily highlights in RescueTimeUse this ZapAdd new rows to Google Sheets with daily RescueTime summary reportsUse this ZapSee more RescueTime integrations powered by
Clear your head
It’s easy to take your work to bed, making it difficult to fall asleep as you mull over job-related problems. Clearing your head before sleep allows you to put aside the challenges of the day and ready your mind to shut down. There are numerous ways to do this, including:
For me, this is going for a 20-minute walk every evening at 9:30 p.m. This is a wind-down period, and allows me to evaluate the day’s work, think about the greater challenges, gradually stop thinking about work and reach a state of tiredness.
Your goal is to engage your mind in something completely non-work related.
Prepare for the next morning
In order to minimize the amount of thinking you need to do in the morning, take time to prepare things. Pick out the clothes you’ll wear, prepare the food you’ll eat, prep the coffeemaker, and organize any work related materials you need to bring. If you’ll be going to the gym, lay out your workout clothes and water.
The less time and mental energy you expend on inconsequential things, the more you’ll have for the things that matter.
Waking up to a messy home isn’t the most motivating way to start your day. Without regular sessions cleaning up and putting things away, you’ll find your place quickly in disarray.
Thankfully, spending just 10 to 20 minutes a night tidying up will help reduce stress in the mornings and help you avoid marathon cleaning sessions on the weekends. If there’s only one thing you do,clean and shine your sink. Like making your bed in the morning, this one task will give you a sense of accomplishment. Housekeeping guru FlyLady says:
This is your first household chore. Many of you can’t understand why I want you to empty your sink of your dirty dishes and clean and shine it when there is so much more to do. It is so simple; I want you to have a sense of accomplishment! […] When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you, and a smile will come across your lovely face. I can’t be there to give you a big hug, but I know how good it feels to see yourself in your kitchen sink. […]
Go shine your sink!
Also, if you have children, you know the importance of setting up solid routines with them. They can help out too!
Practice proper sleep hygiene
Very few people practice proper sleep hygiene and their sleep suffers as a result. Generally speaking, you should:
It can be easy to minimize the importance of sleep, but it’s absolutely essential for optimum performance. In fact, sleep is so crucial that Arianna Huffington devoted an entire Ted Talk to it.
It can be really tough to build routines into your life. It takes intention and discipline. Sometimes it feels simpler to just get the day started and then after a long workday crash into bed.
But the good thing about routines and habits is that the more you do them, the easier they become. They become ingrained in your day to the point where you find it harder to not do them.
So stick with it. You may find it tedious at first, but you’ll find your days will flow much more smoothly when you’ve bookended them with quality morning and evening routines.
To create your morning and evening routines, you can write up a checklist that you can walk through every day until it becomes ingrained in you or set up a schedule, a la Ben Franklin. For example:
6 am: wake, make the bed, get coffee started 6:15: drink coffee and read the news 6:30: exercise 7: eat breakfast 7:15: shower 8-5: work 6: dinner 7:30: tidy up 8: time with family, TV, or other form of relaxation and entertainment 9:30: journaling or meditation 10: bedtime
If someone around you is negative or fearful, you begin to sink low with them and you can’t seem to do anything to stop it. Does this sound familiar?
The up side is that once you become aware that this isn’t the norm (non empaths do none of these things), then you are already halfway towards finding a way to deal with your special abilities.
2. High Natural Intuition
Empaths have unique skills that the average person doesn’t seem to have. You feel things psychically.
You know what others are feeling just be seeing them. You can chat with someone and know their intentions without hearing it.
You understand how people feel, as if they were an extension of yourself. Your intuition never shuts down.
3. People Drain You Easily
This can be one of the biggest stressors for an empath. When you are around other people, you are so open and giving with your energy that you take on other people’s problems.
This leaves you feeling tired as a result.
If you are constantly around other people on a regular basis, willingly handing out your energy, you can find yourself with nothing left for yourself.
The more and more drained you become, the more impossible it becomes to be around other people. Something eventually needs to change.
The answer is to pull back and stop handing out your energy so easily. Only give to those who deserve to have it, like your close tribe.
Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself and treat yourself. Put yourself first!
4. You Attract Broken People
People who are searching for energy can sense that you are willing to hand it out for free.
People might approach you in public places because you are sending out a message that your are willing to give your time to strangers and offer help.
This is great until you run out of energy. When an empath begins to ignore strangers with problems, they magically stop approaching you.
They do not sense your free energy anymore. You were not put on this planet to heal every person that crosses your path. Refer to #3.
5. Crowds Have A Negative Impact On You
This may sound strange to many people, but not to the empath. Events, cities, crowded rooms or even parties can overload your senses. Nightmare for the empath.
An aggressive person passing by you can feel like an energetic slap to the face.
6. Living Location Is Important
Empaths tend to feel the pain of the world, whether they want to or not. Many empaths choose to live in areas where the population is much smaller and the energy level is no longer off the charts.
Living in a high activity area can drain an empath. Empaths would much prefer to walk in a lonely place to recharge their batteries.
7. You Are VERY Sensitive
This might seem obvious, but it is one of the most typical traits of an empath. Some empaths might even feel physical symptoms that are connected to what others around them are experiencing.
If there is an unpleasant scene on TV you might leave the room if you can’t bear to see or feel it.
8. You Can Often See Through Lies
You know when someone is lying. There is no need to second guess yourself. You aren’t sure how you know, but you know it instantly.
Empaths know who to trust and who to never rely on. It’s easy for an empath.
9. Emotional Healing Is Your Gift
Due to your endless compassion and time given to the problems of others, you are actually healing them. This is why you attract everyone who is in desperate need of healing. As mentioned earlier in #4.
You should focus this ability on your loved ones, not everyone is deserving of your healing. Only use your gifts when necessary.
Don’t downplay yourself if you are an empath. People would kill to have a friend like you.
Not everyone has someone with healing powers. So understand your worth, some people want to be friends and others want to steal your gift.
10. Empaths Ignore Their Own Problems
Empaths are professionals when it comes to ignoring their issues. They get so caught up in healing others, they never get a chance to talk about their own.
You carry the weight of your problems along with you everywhere you go.
You know how to handle everyone’s problems but your own. At some point you eventually break drown. All your pent up emotions eventually come out.
You need to learn how to take care of your issues when they emerge. They shouldn’t be stuffed away. Take a break if needed. That way you won’t melt down or explode at someone in the future.
Are you still searching for your life purpose? You won’t believe what the science of Numerologycan reveal about you!
If teen movies have anything to say about it, the hottest people are usually also the meanest, while the nice guys are the ones who can’t get a date. But according to some rather encouraging new research, an attractive personality may be one of the most important factors in perceived beauty. In other words, being a good person could actually make people perceive you as more attractive.
A recent study, led by Yan Zhang of Huazhong University in China and published in the November 2014 issue of Personality and Individual Differences, found positive personality traits to increase perceptions of facial attractiveness.
If teen movies have anything to say about it, the hottest people are usually also the meanest, while the nice guys are the ones who can’t get a date. But according to some rather encouraging new research, an attractive personality may be one of the most important factors in perceived beauty. In other words, being a good person could actually make people perceive you as more attractive.
A recent study, led by Yan Zhang of Huazhong University in China and published in the November 2014 issue of Personality and Individual Differences, found positive personality traits to increase perceptions of facial attractiveness.
“We find that ‘what is good is beautiful,’ with personality reflecting desired traits as facial attractiveness,” the researchers wrote. “This phenomenon can also be called the ‘halo effect.’ We can thus presume that personality traits may contribute to judging facial attractiveness and that the personality traits desired in a person are reflected in facial preference.”
Zhang’s research is part of a growing inquiry into the link between personality and physical attractiveness. A 2010 study found that kindness could influence the body type a person found attractive. A group of 2,000 male study participants reviewed photos of a diverse group of women, agreeing on a very narrow definition of body “attractiveness.” But in a second experiment, when given positive personality information about the women in the photographs, a far greater variety of body types were deemed attractive by the group.
“From an evolutionary point of view, there are many ways to display one’s fitness and mate value, which certainly extend to the mental and behavioral domains,” Scott Barry Kaufman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved with the study, said in an email to The Huffington Post. “Being able to accurately assess the content of someone’s character can be even more important for survival and reproduction than assessing someone’s physical makeup. After all, a physically attractive psychopath is more likely to hinder the propagation of healthy genes than a person who is physically attractive based more on their hot personality.”
Of course, the new research does have some limitations, and shouldn’t yet be taken as conclusive evidence of our psychological tendency to equate goodness and beauty. The study looked only at a small group within a narrow demographic of Chinese women between 20 and 30 years of age, Kaufman, who reviewed the study for HuffPost, explained. And the study didn’t address the mechanism through which people associate attractiveness with personality traits.
“Nevertheless, I hope to see more research along these lines on the cognitive and personality factors affecting perceptions of attractiveness,” Kaufman concluded.
The word “stress” comes from the Latin word “Stringere”, meaning to “draw tight”.
Our body responds to stress as a survival instinct which comes in handy when you are being chased by a bear but not so much when you have 12 things to do in an hour!
Stress may be a reality in our everyday lives but we can deal with it effectively by looking at what our stressors are and using healthy coping mechanisms to reduce their effects on our health and well-being.
What stresses you out?
What triggers stress in you? Does your office mate drive you crazy? Do you have trouble saying no to more work assignments or social requests? Do you judge yourself against other’s competence?
What are your stress signals?
Often there are physical or psychological symptoms in our bodies that signal our stress levels are on the rise. Do you find yourself having low tolerance; suffer from headaches, stomach aches or fatigue? These signals can be red flags for stress.
How do you deal with stress?
Do you reach for a box of chocolate or big bag of chips? Do you pour yourself another glass of wine? Do you take a walk or a hot bath? We all deal with stress differently. Some coping mechanisms are healthy and others further stress and damage our bodies. It is important to look at how and why we react the way we do and try new options for coping and de-stressing.
Settle in, close your eyes and gently begin to locate your breath. Where do you feel it the most? Rest your awareness on the breath, as if noticing the breath for the first time. You can place attention at the tip of the nose or the belly and as you breathe in, just acknowledge the breath coming in and as you breathe out just acknowledge the breath going out. As if you were greeting and saying goodbye to an old friend.
Practice noticing when your mind wanders. Then go back to the breath, practicing “see,” “touch,” “go”when the mind mind wanders—noticing when your mind is wandering, being able to touch it for a moment and gently going back to wherever your attention is. When the mind wanders, as it will always do, just say to yourself “wandering” and then gently bring your attention back to the breath just noticing it coming in and going out.
Return to the breath again and again as the mind wanders, gently bring it back billions of times. You can do this for as little as 1 minute or as much as 30 minutes or more.
2) Restore self-confidence by labeling defeating thoughts
Catch your inner critic. When you’re not feeling well and the mind begins to ruminate, as you practiced with the breath, just label it as “ruminating” and then gently bring your attention back to whatever you were doing. Like learning an instrument, you can develop more skill as you practice.
Notice the “choice point.” Being more present may also give you the ability see the space between stimulus and response and see the “choice point” to be more flexible and call a friend or do something that then gives you pleasure or connection with others. This is what I referred to as The Now Effect.
Recognize when you’re feeling low. Feeling low mood is normal for everyone, but if we’ve experienced depression in the past, this may be a trigger for a relapse. If we feel tired or if we notice sadness, the mind pops up with the worry: “Uh oh, that is how I felt when I was depressed, maybe I’m getting depressed.” Our minds begin to go in overdrive with negative self judgments, “I am a failure” or “I am weak” or “I am worthless.” It then tries to solve the mystery as to why we are becoming depressed again and the more it tries to solve this puzzle, the deeper it sinks into depression.
Be kind to yourself. Think of your worried mind like a judgmental person coming at you trying to solve your problems when you’re already not feeling well. Probably not what you’re looking for. You see, it’s not the low mood that’s the problem here, it’s the way we get stuck in habitually relating to it, talking to ourselves about it, that pours kerosene on the fire. Know that practicing mindfulness is an act of self-care and helps stop the cycle of rumination and cultivates more patience, compassion, and peace.
Clearly, PTSD is a physical as well as emotional disease, but there are other symptoms of PTSD that may surprise you: the neurocognitive ones.
2. Neurocognitive issues.
People experience neurocognitive symptoms of PTSD, too, such as problems with memory and concentration, cognitive delays, lowered verbal memory capacity and trouble with problem-solving and planning.
What all this comes down to is this astonishing reality: our emotions may be powerful enough to actually change the way our brain works.
3. Eating disorders.
People with PTSD also experience higher rates of eating disorders. In one study, 20 percent of women with binge eating disorder, a third of women with bulimia nervosa and 11.8 percent of women with non-bulimic/non-binge eating disorders displayed symptoms of PTSD.
Being in a constant state of arousal make it difficult for people with PTSD to eat, suggesting our emotions may change the way our bodies work as much as our minds.
PTSD changes the way someone feels about other people. They’re in constant fear, their bodies always primed for fight or flight, and many of them have seen the worst atrocities human beings are capable of. They can’t be sure what someone else wants to do to them.
They might have unrealistic negative beliefs about others or blame other people for thetrauma they endured, or they may blame other people for what happened after the traumatic experience.
Another symptom of PTSD we don’t talk about is shame that often doesn’t go away. The way people with PTSD feel about other people often parallels the way they feel about themselves. They tend to hold distorted negative beliefs about themselves and blame themselves for their traumatic experience, as well as what happened afterward.
PTSD can sometimes leave people incapable of trusting anyone, even themselves.
People with PTSD often feel hopeless about a future that feels limited. Some people who were once spiritual may also experience a loss of faith. For people with this condition, life simply doesn’t feel normal anymore.
7. Difficulties with positive emotions.
Another symptom of PTSD is difficulty regulating not only negative emotions, but positive ones, too. Studies show people with PTSD tend to associate positive emotions with the trauma they underwent. They have a hard time controlling themselves when they feel something good, or they have a hard time focusing on anything else.
8. Physical reactions to triggers.
When someone’s PTSD gets triggered, they often experience physical reactions, such as difficulty breathing, pounding heart and heightened startle reflex. This can be attributed to increased levels of adrenaline.
“These floods of adrenaline arise because brain circuits involved in the regulation of emotion learn to activate in response to trauma-related cues and then do not unlearn these associations after the threat passes,” explains John Krystal, a national PTSD expert and chief psychiatrist at Yale Medicine.
In other words, any time people with PTSD get triggered, their bodies may react the same way they did during their trauma. They can get stuck in their fear.
What All This Means
When people don’t know about all the symptoms of PTSD, it leads to a lot of misunderstanding. Family and friends don’t understand their loved ones with PTSD, and people with PTSD don’t understand themselves at times. We can feel angry and betrayed when we don’t have to feel that way. Life becomes even more painful than it already is.
Healing from PTSD is all about support, which we can’t do for each other if we don’t understand one another. We need more education and more awareness so the people hurting around us can get their lives back again.
According to ChildHelp, the largest organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect, the definition of child abuse is when a parent or caregiver causes (or threatens) injury, death or emotional harm to a child.
Though this definition is accurate, it’s also a bit vague. Like most things, “harm” exists on a spectrum, so it may feel tricky deciding what is “poor parenting” and what constitutes actual abuse. Because the distinction isn’t always clear cut, we wanted to share a tool with you that might help you understand the dynamics of parent/caregiver abuse with more clarity. If you are a survivor of childhood trauma, this chart might aid your healing process.
The Power and Control Wheel for abuse of children, created by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), is a simple chart that outlines behaviors that constitute abuse. The outer ring of the chart lists acts of physical violence (left side) and acts of sexual violence (right side). Examples of physical violence include: choking, twisting arms, pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, and the examples of sexual violence include committing incest, sexual touching/kissing and sexualizing children’s behavior.
The inner circle of the chart is divided up into seven parts, and encompasses classic behaviors that constitute psychological violence abusive caregivers can inflict on children. All seven of these power and control tactics can fly under the radar, leaving children feeling confused and powerless to prevent the abuse they experience. We’ve broken down each behavior below.
1. Using Institutions
The first section of the chart talks about the use of institutions to maintain power over a child. This could look like threatening punishment byan outside entity (example: “God will punish you for the sin of disobeying your parent”) or threatening punishment with an institution (example: “If you don’t behave, I will send you to live with your mean Aunt Hilda”). Other examples of institutions an abusive parent might use to control a child include threatening punishment by/with:
According to the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse America, adults who use isolation to control their children cut them off from normal social experiences, prevent them from forming friendships and encourage the child to believe they are alone in the world. This may also include controlling access to the child’s other parent, siblings, grandparents or other adults.
3. Emotional Abuse
Unlike physical and sexual abuse, which are two fairly easy-to-categorize types of abuse, emotional abuse can be a little trickier to define. Essentially, emotional abuse refers to a pattern of behavior that causes psychological harm to another person, usually involving verbal degradation and the exploitation of an unequal power dynamic. Some common examples of emotionally abusive behaviors caregivers may engage in include:
Using children to get or give information to the other parent
Being emotionally inconsistent
4. Economic Abuse
Economic abuse refers to a caregiver maintaining power and control by exploiting a child’s financial dependence on them. Some behaviors that would fall under the economic abuse category can include:
Withholding basic needs from a child like food, clothing, shelter or medication
Using money to control behavior
Squandering family money
Withholding child support
Using children as an economic bargaining chip in divorce
Parental abuse isn’t always literal harm, sometimes it looks like the parent creating a climate of fear by threatening to harm the child, others, their pets or even themselves. Some common examples of threats caregivers use to assert power and control over their children include:
Threatening to abandon the child
Threatening to die by suicide
Threatening physical harm, confinement or harm to other loved ones
6. Using Adult Privilege
In all types of abuse, there is an actual or perceived imbalance of power. In the case of parent-child abuse, a parent or caregiver will use their status as an autonomous adult to inappropriately control a child. When questioned by the child, an abusive parent who uses their adult privilege might say something along the lines of, “Because I’m the parent, and you’re the child,” or “Because I said so.” Examples of misuse of adult privilege include:
Treating children as servants
Punishing a child inappropriately or more often than necessary
Bossing around a child
Always “winning” arguments
Denying a child’s input on visitation and custody decisions
Constantly interrupting a child
Intimidation is the use of fear to assert power or control over another person. In cases of parental abuse, this might look like:
Instilling fear through looks, actions and gestures
Destroying a child’s property
Using adult size to intimidate (for example, standing over a child)
Being violent to the other parent, pets, etc.
If you are a survivor of childhood trauma and recognize any of the behaviors mentioned above, you’re not alone. The trauma you experienced was not your fault, and you deserved better treatment growing up. The good news is it’s never too late to heal from trauma. With the help of a trauma-informed therapist (check out this helpful tool to find one), you can heal from past childhood wounds.
To connect with other survivors who understand, we encourage you to post on The Mighty with the hashtag #TraumaSurvivors. Whatever you’re facing today, you don’t have to go through it alone.