Monday, September 22, 2014

Surround yourself with Positivity

Step three to being more confident is to consider the people that surround you.

Do you find yourself starting your day off well, then somehow you end up feeling depressed, disappointed, or disenchanted? Did you wake up this morning feeling like the world was your oyster and then it seems as though it suddenly change?

This may not be your fault!!

I would go to my classroom each day with a smile on my face feeling relatively excited to start each new day. Some times, I would see other coworkers in the hallway and I would start to fade in my positive mode. Many people we are around each day are the typical Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer, or Pessimistic Patty.
Regardless of the obvious gender issue that I see with these phrases, we all know some of these people. I, at times, have been one or more of these people. I try to avoid it, or if I know I am feeling that way I will avoid others. I don't like having a negative impact on others. I know that I have a precarious mood at times and I don't want other people to perceive my negative moods and then cause them to feel influenced.

If the people with which you surround yourself are typically negative people, then you will likely feel that negativity and it will begin to ooze out of you. You may not intend it to happen, but it can. This is definitely not a good way to boost your confidence.

Surround yourself with people that are positive. I know that this may seem difficult, but it is possible!! There are more positive people out there than you originally thought!! You have that potential. I think Sandi Krakowski said it best:


You are in control of yourself. You may not be able to control the thoughts and actions of those around you, but you make the choice to continue to be around them. I learned, when I was walking through the school hallways, to not stop and talk with anyone that appeared to be having a negative day. I made the choice to continue walking down the hallway and to smile at the others around me to make both them and I feel better. I would greet people, there is no reason to be rude, but I wouldn't stay and chat. It doesn't make sense to allow someone else around you to suck out your positive energy. I believe that we all have a positive energy. We just have to tap into it. If you are not a morning person, this may be more difficult than not, but regardless, once you are up and moving, you may as well try to find some joy in the day.

I have a friend that I love talking with. She is very much a carpe diem type of friend. She is the one I call when I need a lift. I only met her two years ago, but she is very much my best friend. She emailed me the other day a list of positive traits about me because I couldn't list them for myself. She made me cry in a very good way. She helps me to strive to be more in the moment. I hope that we can all find a friend like that!


I think Bobby McFerrin said it best though:
Don't Worry, Be Happy


Final Note: The last thing I want to say is that depression is a very real issue. I have battled with it my entire life. In fact, fighting it was what prompted me to begin looking at what I needed to do be feel more confident. Depression makes me feel like a less than ideal person loser. I feel like I am useless and worthless. Therefore, I decided to start researching how to be more positive and how to be more confident. Then, I opted to write about it. I can only hope that if you are battling depression, you are able to write about it and find the positive. There are times when that is impossible. When you get to that point, please know that there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with talking to a therapist. Furthermore, if you feel that there is nothing else for you and you want to end it all, PLEASE call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is always someone. There honestly is.


Celebrating Strength

Do you know what your strengths are? Have you ever actually sat down and thought about it? Or are you constantly critical and rarely stop to think about what you really can do well?

If you are like me, you are much more the latter than the former. 

My first thought when trying to determine what my strengths are is laughable. Literally, I laughed. I have no strengths. I can't possibly have anything of which I am exceptionally good to make me feel very proud. Rather, I started thinking about all the stuff at which I am exceptionally bad. I can easily make that list.

So, how does one make a list of things that one does well? Honestly, I'm working on that. See right now, I am writing this blog to avoid doing other things that I know I need to do. I do have an amazing power of procrastination. However, I doubt that is much of a strength. In fact, I'm pretty sure that is more of a negative. But, I realize that knowing is half the battle (Thanks, G.I. Joe for teaching me that) and at least I am aware of it. I also know that I procrastinate because I feel overwhelmed much of the time and I just don't know where to begin.

For example, today I have a lot I have to do. I know that I have a novel that I need to proof. I have a great deal of housework that must get done. I have meals to create, animals that need attention, and children that do as well. I know that I need to prioritize this to get done what needs to be done, but for some reason my brain screams NO!!!! TOO MUCH!!!! Play mindless games instead. Check out what others are doing on Facebook. Read email that you don't actually care about. Read random blogs. So many options are available to distract us from what we need to do. When we start giving into these distractions, we are no longer able to really focus on what we must do; the things that make us feel good and productive.

So, I challenge myself and you, too. For one day, 24 hours, turn off your distractions. Focus on what you need to have completed. When you see that you are able to accomplish so much, you will be amazed. Now, if you have young children that cannot function on their own yet, that's one thing. But if you are not glued to a television, computer, or handheld electronic device you can get so much done. Even if only for a little stretch at a time.When you are able to get things done, you see that you really have no excuses left.

So the whole point of this particular post was supposed to be celebrating the strengths that we each have. Rather, it turned in to a pep talk about giving up distractions. But really, aren't they both the same thing? When you get rid of the distractions, don't you have the ability to find your strengths? I think so. That's why I will be going to figure out my strengths now. You should too.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Perspectacles

Every now and then, with the amazing world at our fingertips called the Internet, we come across an article that really puts things into perspective. Today, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across a couple of different articles and videos that different friends posted, but they all seemed to be directed at me. It's like they just knew that I needed to view these things today. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there was something causing me to see these today.  What I learned from these articles/videos is that I needed to take a moment and step back for some perspective. As one writer noted in her post here, it's a matter of looking through perspectacles. A silly, made-up word that I like very much because it makes complete sense. 

My house is a messy, unkempt place. We live in it. All the time. We have pets, children, and love. We have an amazing home that accommodates our mid-sized family perfectly. We have so much to be thankful for that at times we forget to be thankful because we take things for granted or we don't stop to smell the proverbial roses.

As the author posted at the beginning of the post noted above:

"If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we'd be happy with more?" -- Unknown

There is no need for us to "keep up with the Jones" or the Kardashians for that matter. It makes no logical sense to compare ourselves to those around us. We are always telling our children that, but why do we not follow that as adults? Why do we not practice what we preach? This is one of those times when I, dealing with my inner demons, need to put on my perspectacles and stop and smell the roses. 

I am a mom. I get to work from home! The best job in the world! I get to home-school my autistic son and help him to learn how to navigate this crazy, screwed-up world! I get to help my daughter learn how to be a confident, mature young woman. I struggle with that myself, but I am home and able to help my daughter find herself like I didn't really do as a young girl. I have a roof over my head, I have food on my table, I have fresh water to drink, I have access to anything I could possibly ever need and I take advantage of that.

When I was teaching, I had students that had no idea how to ride a bike, let alone actually own one! I have six downstairs right now! We can take family rides at any time we want. 

I have a husband that I love and that loves me. We support each other in everything that we do. We care for each other and provide for each other. We listen to each other and talk with each other. Note the with and not to or at. We actually discuss and solve and fix things together.

I am an amazingly blessed woman! If the rest of us were to step back and look through our OWN perspectacles, we might realize that we all are. We don't have to have the best of ANYTHING! We don't need to put ourselves so deep into debt just to make our home look a certain way or to have things. We need each other. Our home to protect us. Food to eat.

I have all of that. 

I. Love. It.

In case you wanted to watch the video that really got my attention today, you can find it here. Now, it's a Mormon made video, but the message is what is really important. Whether you are religious or not, regardless, the message is the same for all of us.

I hope that you are able to find your perspectacles as I did mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Becoming Good Enough

The first step in not being self-conscious is to set an intention.

Now, you may lean back in your seat and think, what the heck does that have to do with anything? Honestly that was my first thought, but as I am thinking about it, I realize it's like setting a personal goal. My intention is to like my self and my life as a positive representation for my children, particularly my daughter.

We are inundated with information about how to be some specific way for the world to see. From television, to magazines, to movies, even literature. everything has ideals on how people should present themselves to others. Nothing really seems to address how people feel about themselves, but looks to others for that validation.

One particular example that I can think of is the story Purplicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann. The story is cute enough, but Pinkalicious, after being teased and tormented about liking pink, doesn't really love her color choice until the new girl at school validates her choice to love pink and shows her that it makes purple which is the new girl's color of choice. Shouldn't she just like it because she likes it? Regardless of what other's think?

I realize this is super simplistic, and may not be the best analogy, but I think it is a pretty significant point. If we are supposed to feel confident, why should we need another person's validation that what we like is okay to like? Shouldn't we be able to just say, "Because I Said So!" and be done with it? Am I mistaken in thinking that most people don't automatically do this? I know I nearly never have. I have always felt that I had to have the outside validation.

Often we don't get that acceptance that we crave and it's really because other people are busy focused on themselves, to bother with validating others. What I know we get a lot of is criticism. With constant outside criticism, you hear only one thing in your head... "You Aren't Good Enough".

How hard is it just to type those words? You Are Not Good Enough. They require all capitalization because they are so significant. After a while, the outside support you may have been able to hear as a child quickly disappears and then you no longer want to seek that outside affirmation. Eventually, that negativity is all you can hear and you start to believe.

I think that is why middle school/junior high is such a tumultuous time for so many pre-adolescents. You need outside support because you are trying to find yourself, but if you don't have a solid support in place, you won't get it. You will hear the taunting, the snide comments, the hurtful things, but you will rarely hear the positive things.

By the time you get to high school, the damage is pretty strong and no you are really hitting puberty and feel horribly awkward and anxious. You compare yourself to others because that is what you are taught to do from everything surrounding you. Eventually, you come to the conclusion that You Are Not Good Enough.

So you start hating yourself for being such a loser, even if you never actually call yourself that. You think that all those evil little voices in your head that really do affirm the negative things you heard others say are right. You can't figure out how anyone could ever like you, especially yourself. So, you sit in your office one night, and look up how to not feel self-conscious. And you begin pouring your heart into a post on a blog.

You hope to goodness that no one actually reads this blog because if you do hear negativity, you are pretty sure it will all be for naught and every hateful thing you have ever thought about yourself is true. You really don't want to visit that dark place again where you told yourself that your husband and children would be so much better without you.You know that deep, deep, down it isn't true. And that little glimmer at the bottom is what keeps you trying every day. You decide to start today and you set your intention.

I think about my children growing up without a mom, my husband raising two children without a wife and partner. I know that I can never allow that to happen. So I set my intention.

I intend to like myself and my life. I intend to see the good that there is in me. I intend to find out what it is like to feel pride when I look in the mirror each day rather than disdain. It takes so much out of you to not like yourself. It is physically and emotionally draining. I intend to end that horrible cycle. Because it is horrible. No one deserves to feel that way. No one should feel that way.

No one.

Every person should be happy with themselves, because we have such an amazing gift! We get to live! We get to explore this amazing world, we get to experience things that are mind boggling! We are lucky! We are amazing! We really are Good Enough!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to NOT be self-conscious...

Interesting that we are in a society where everyone has some self-conscious moments, but evidently, not everyone feels self-conscious most of the time. That special little title is not applicable to everyone, like I had always assumed. See, I can't do anything without feeling self-conscious or self-critical. Honestly, I thought everyone felt that way. I had no idea that I was the abnormal one.

I recently quit my career as a teacher and embarked upon a new one, where I work from home as an editor/proofreader. I also homeschool/unschool our 13 year old Autistic son. In my new, awesome, amazing career, I work from home reading currently unpublished novels for self-published author's. Many of the books I have been reviewing lately are of the romance genre. Evidently a popular genre.

I noted to my husband how irritating I found it that the main female characters in these books always feel so amazing the instant that their clothes come off. How can they never seem to feel uncomfortable with their bodies or their feelings? I asked him why he thought that this was the case and he told me that most people tend to feel comfortable with themselves, particularly when they are intimate with others.

This is honest-to-goodness news to me. I honestly don't know whether I believe him or not. If this is true, then why on Earth are the so many magazine articles, websites, self-help books, and therapists out there helping people to feel better about themselves? If this is not true, then how does one stop one's self from feeling self-conscious?

As I stated above, I feel self-conscious pretty much all the time. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin, I don't feel as though I am ... I guess ... good enough. As my husband stated to me, you just have to learn to like yourself. My first thought that crossed my mind was seriously, what is there to like? Now as I look at it, I realize that is not a healthy perspective of one's self so I began looking online to find out how to help myself become a happier inner me and shut up my inner witch.

I found one article that lead to two different articles. One listed 12 ways to accept yourself and the other listed three steps for self acceptance. So, ultimately that is 15 steps. The three smaller steps list is very general, which would make sense considering that learning to like yourself is a pretty huge thing. At least I think so.

I would type them all out, but I think I'll address each of them separately. I plan to begin with the 12 steps first (who doesn't love a good 12 step program, right?) because it does have more specific goals. After that, I intend to move on to the 3. Hang out for a bit. I think I may just enjoy this, or I may end up rambling about stuff that no one really cares about.

That may just be my self-consciousness shouting out again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things Students Say

I had a student ask me today a question that I considered to have an obvious answer, but seemed to have a surprising answer for her. The question was, "will people be reading and writing about us in History books?"

My immediate thought was, "of course, duh"! But then I realized that this young lady was legitimately asking me this question. So I told her that yes, one day they will be the people in History books. Then I posed to her a question that took her by surprise. 

"What kind of history do you want to be known for?"

I told her that even George Washington was a 14-year-old kid once upon a time. And I bet he probably didn't think he would be a prominent person in history. Adolf Hitler was once a 13-year-old kid and I doubt that he would have thought that he would have as profound an impact on history as he did. 

These revelations allowed for a very interesting "teachable moment" with my class. These children all wanted to know what I thought about their futures. I told them that they are writing their own histories every day, even though they didn't know it. One day they would leave a legacy behind for their progeny to either respect or hide from. 

So I asked them again. "What kind of history do you want to be known for?"

This time I added, "do you want your grandchildren to be able to speak highly of you, or do you want them to be ashamed"?

They all verbally and non-verbally agreed that they want their families of the future to be proud of them and their accomplishments.

When I explained to them, that the path to the positive or the negative has already begun for them, but that they can always change their paths as they progress, they seemed a little scared (as any 13-year-old child would), but I told them that as long as they keep the question about their future history stories in their minds, they will choose the right path for them.

There are no laws or regulations that say you are stuck in the same path forever. You can grow and change. You can venture forth into uncharted territories and be remembered for great, amazing things. You can sail a calm path and be happy. You can do what ever you want to do. 

After that I told them that I was going to get off my soapbox now, and they all got a confused look on their faces and asked, "what's a soapbox"? 

I guess we can't win them all.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tonight, We Cook!

I will never profess to be anything even remotely resembling a chef. I can barely boil water. And yet, I have days where I like to pretend I can cook. Today I will be making an orange glazed tilapia for dinner with rosemary roasted carrots. Now, I'm sure the tilapia would be better paired with rice and broccoli, but I don't eat grains as much as possible and I'm out of broccoli. So carrots it is.

I have also been working out a lot lately in an effort to build up some physical fitness. As much as I like relaxing on the couch, I realize that I will begin to look like virtually every other adult female in my family if I do. This is not a legacy I wish to pass on to my daughter. So physical fitness is important in our house. I don't subscribe to any one fitness routine. Truly, I fit it in where I can. Saturdays I take an adult ballet class. As a former dancer, this is my true passion. If I could dance daily, I would. I also love to play the various dance games on Xbox. That is a workout!! I also do Tabata style workouts. This is a good resource if you are curious. Finally, a coworker and I have started challenging each other in my classroom. During one of our classes together (she is my co-teacher and an awesome one at that!). So everyday, we do little things in class. The students think its funny. Hopefully they too will see the importance of working out. Some of my students are quite overweight, sadly.

I hope that by my own resolve, I can better my life and encourage you to better yours. :-)