Posted in goals, healing, hope, learning

F.E.A.R.

One of the things I love about Life Coaching is that it helps a person make an impact on their life right now. Unlike therapy or counseling, it isn’t necessary to know the whole story and all of the “why’s” in order to start taking steps forward.

I want to make it clear right now that I do NOT think life coaching should take the place of therapy/counseling. Some people may need one or the other, some people may want to have both. It is an individual’s choice to make sure their specific needs are being met. Life coaching isn’t about delving into past traumas or childhood experiences to discover why we act or feel the way we do. It is simply about coming up with a motivating plan to move forward from where you currently are.

That being said, life coaching does require a person to be vulnerable and honest. This can be really hard when talking about fears and insecurities, especially if you haven’t already been working your way through them.

My big fear is to live an unfulfilling life. A life with little emotional connection, no big-life talks, no exciting new experiences or travels to different places. A life where I am stuck in a comfortable but boring day job, feeling like I don’t make a difference in the world. A life where I don’t have a purpose. Essentially, I am just waiting to die because I’ve given up hope that life can be bright and inspiring and full.

The thing about my fear is that I have already lived it. I was trapped in a job, a relationship, a life that felt suffocating. I was filled with anxiety over the thought of never having something more meaningful to me. That is why I quit my job, ended a five-year relationship, and moved to a different state to start over. I had to leave behind the comforts of home and embrace the unknown in the hopes that things would work out for the better. And, so far they have.

I recently learned a new definition of fear in class:

F- false
E- evidence
A- appearing
R- real

How do we overcome fear?

F- face it
E- express it
A- acknowledge it
R- release it

One way of facing and expressing your fear is by turning it into a metaphor. Speaking of something metaphorically is sometimes easier than openly discussing a painful fear, and it can bring objectivity to a situation. Also, in your metaphor, you are entirely in control. You can overcome any roadblock that is set in your path.

My fear feels like a room with no doors. I’m in the room alone, and it is pretty threadbare. One entire wall is made of glass and I can see out into the world. People are constantly passing by, but they don’t pay attention to my little room. I try to get their attention but they can’t hear me. They are participating in life. They are making a difference in the world through work that they’re passionate about. They are embracing relationships and friendships fully and basking in the love they are giving and receiving. They are traveling, trying new things, finding new hobbies, new likes and dislikes, new ideas. 

My room is isolating and uninspiring, but it is safe. I can’t be hurt by others. I can’t fail or disappoint myself or others. I want to go outside, I want to live in the light, but I’m so worried I won’t be good enough, I won’t succeed, I won’t bring anything important to the world. What if I enter the light and fail? What if I am a burden to those around me? What if they were better off when I stayed in the shadows?

Still, my heart longs for adventure. I can’t stop thinking about what I might achieve. “Maybe I could succeed,” I whisper to myself, and a small crack appears in the glass.

“I have stories that others might relate to.” A snapping sound as another crack appears.

“I’ll never know unless I try.”
Crack.

My voice slightly louder, I say, “I’m a good listener. I’m thoughtful and caring. Others could benefit from having me around.”
Crack.

“Why shouldn’t I be happy? Why shouldn’t I dream big dreams?”
Crack.

“I’m holding myself back in this room. I’m playing small. I’m hiding from potential happiness and success.”
CRACK.

Taking a step back, I see the web of cracks connecting all over the glass. It seems precariously balanced, like one wrong move would send it shattering into a million pieces. 

“My voice is powerful,” I say louder.  
The glass shakes, every so slightly. 

Suddenly, I am so sure of myself. “I am powerful!” I shout. “I have the power to create any life I want!”

With this final declaration, the glass bursts into tiny, glittering pieces clattering to the ground. The dividing wall between myself and the world is gone. It is up to me what I do next. I step forward and feel the warm sunlight hit my skin. I smell the fresh, clean air. I hear laughter in the distance. My heart is so full. 

Looking over my shoulder, I see my small, dark room. Sunlight is streaming through the opening, brightening the corners. It doesn’t seem so threatening anymore. I turn back to the sun and take a step forward into the unknown. 

When I started speaking this metaphor to my classmates, I had no idea what was going to come out. I knew I felt trapped, but hadn’t realized the feelings of isolation and looking out at others. I sure as hell didn’t know my voice would be the tool I used to free myself. But with my eyes closed, deep in the visualization of my metaphor, I just knew. I knew that the power was inside of me. I just had to be brave enough to use it. 

What is your fear? What is it holding you back from? If you turned your fear into a metaphor, how would you smash it? 

Posted in depression, goals, healing, hope, self-care, self-love, Uncategorized

Fall down 6 times, stand up 7

I am currently taking a class called Building Resiliency. It’s inspirational, obviously, and throughout, I’ve also learned methods and techniques I can use to coach others on resiliency. The techniques are so applicable, I have been integrating them into my own self-care practice as well. (For instance, I have recently found great closure in a past relationship through the practice of Higher Consciousness Conversations.)

What is important to know about resiliency is that it isn’t a personality trait. It’s a skill. That means we can all develop resiliency and learn to grow through the trials life throws at us, and even come out stronger.

For me, building resiliency has really been about coming back from my depression as a stronger person. To be frank, depression knocked me on my ass and sent me tumbling hard into rock bottom. Not only did I feel completely alone, but I felt like I deserved to be alone. I felt like a burden to the people I loved. I didn’t feel worthy of joy, love, or even existing. And through this, I completely lost my sense of identity. I wasn’t an animal-loving, poetry-writing, kind-hearted person suffering the despair of depression. I was despair and depression.

Everywhere I looked, I found evidence of this fact, evidence to support how unworthy of love I was. I put on a mask everywhere I went of a happy, silly, easy-going girl, so even my “friends” and “family” (quotations because, at the time, I felt they didn’t want to be a part of my life and were unfortunately forced to because they felt sorry for me or felt too guilty to blow me off) couldn’t see how lost and full of hurt I was. I didn’t let anyone in, sure that nobody could love the real me; the me that carried a heavy heart and a tightness in my chest so stifling that sometimes I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

For me, rock bottom and the turning point were one and the same. On what was supposed to be a joyful trip to Las Vegas to celebrate friends’ birthdays, I found myself alone, drunk, and crying, wishing for my non-existence. Here, I attempted to end my own life, and was stopped at the last moment. I got to see another side of Las Vegas- an emergency room visit, followed by a stay in a mental health facility where my life was on a consistent schedule of meal times, group therapy, and two outdoor breaks a day. Not what I really had in mind when I embarked on this trip. Still, it was here that I realized, I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to stop existing. I just wanted to feel better. I didn’t know if that was possible, but I committed to at least trying.

I went back to my therapist, who I had been ignoring for the past few months. Here, I did WORK. Hard, dirty, painful, soul-searching work. I strengthened and learned new personal protective factors. Because I spent so much time in the chair, exploring my past, my emotions, my thought processes, I learned Inner Direction. I was able to consciously evaluate how I felt about something and make my decisions based on this, rather than what I felt would make me most lovable to others. I learned Perseverance. Things didn’t feel better for a long time. But I held onto a tiny glimmer of hope that one day, they would. I deepened my Spirituality starting with the belief that we matter because we exist. On days that I couldn’t convince myself that I mattered, I would come back to this belief. Everyone matters, so by default, I had to matter as well. Self-Worth came slowly, and there are still rough days when I can’t find it. But it is now something I know is there, so I trust that if I show myself some love and compassion, I can always find it again.

Another very important piece to my healing was pro-social bonding. Prior to my hospitalization, I spent as many nights as possible going out to parties or bars with a large group of people I considered my friends, but who actually didn’t even know me. After I decided to quit drinking for a while, I didn’t see many of them again. Who I did see, were the people I discovered were my real friends. The ones who called to check in on me in the hospital, and who sent me encouraging notes in the weeks that followed. The friends that I could hang out with without drinking and (though it was scary at first) be my true self around. My circle shrank significantly, but the love I felt grew immensely.

The tricky part about pro-social bonding and depression is that depression doesn’t want you to bond. It wants you to stay home alone and compare yourself to others on social media and wallow in regrets and past traumas. And it’s comfortable, and it feels safe, so sometimes we give in. Some nights, I had to force myself to go watch a movie or meet for dinner because I knew I would feel better after spending time with a good friend. My advice to others dealing with depression would be, “Say yes sometimes.” You don’t have to go to all of the events; in fact, you really probably shouldn’t. But do go, sometimes, with the people you care about and who you know care about you. Being around people who love you is miraculously helpful when you are trying to learn to love yourself.

While I am in a much healthier head-space these days, my recovery from depression is ongoing. There are great days and there are days that I feel I barely made it through. Resiliency is what keeps me going through all the days. Resiliency helped me climb from the shadowy darkness into the light. Resiliency helps me find humor and creativity around what I have experienced. And resiliency helped me find myself again, which was the greatest gift of all.

Posted in goals, hope

Writing a story I want to read

Yesterday was my birthday, and it’s fall, and right now life feels like it has the potential to be a brand new, sparkly chapter.

My previous chapters have been about learning and about getting by. Chapters about self-loathing and all the boys it didn’t bring back. Pages with my face pressed up against a mirror as I cry because I knew it was my prerogative to have my own back, to carry myself through. There’s a chapter when real love shows up in two forms: first, from a big-smiled, curly-haired, beautiful man; and second, from within.

Next, I want a chapter where my devotion to writing grows and, alongside it, so does my devotion to living a full life. To living as the person I want to be. A person with passion that outweighs tired.

If we’re all in charge of building our own story, I want mine to be fulfilling and inspiring and exciting. I don’t want page after page of monotony, of dissatisfaction, of means to an end. It’s so easy to get stuck in day-to-day life without realizing it. To feel content and peaceful (if not infatuated) with a routine life and so to never try for something more. And I think that’s where I’m at right now. But I want to be infatuated with every day.

To me, this feels like a more befitting time to make resolutions for the coming year. And, writing them down in a public place might make me more accountable, so here’s what I got: Spend more time outdoors and less time online. Read more poetry. Try some new things. Travel as much as possible. Write as much as possible. Get in touch with my intuition. Be present but always moving towards my dreams.

If you have stories of how you got out of a rut or how you chased down your dream and made it come through, I would love to hear them. Please, share. 🙂