A friend to me

For a brief period of time, I was doing pretty well at actually posting here semi-regularly. I have something like 20 drafts sitting, ready to go, but I have been busy. October was a bit of a mess, but I said, “Well, if I make it through October, it’s smooth sailing from there.” But then November hit. Then it was “if I make it through November…”

All that to say, I’ve been busy, at times overwhelmed, and had at least one cry about working too much. Nobody told me how much being an adult makes you cry. Or is that just me?

Anyway, I am sure we’ve all had the very Canadian exchange:

Hey how are you!

*Doesn’t stop walking* great, how are you?

*From over shoulder* fine!

*even further away, faint and in the distance* That’s good to hear!

I do this so many times in a week. We use “how are you” almost as a greeting. We don’t necessarily expect anyone to answer in any deeper fashion than that. I’ve heard from people from other cultures or countries that this is downright weird.

There’s also the automatic response of “fine” when you have the chance to give a more full answer. “Oh I’m fine!” When in reality…

. . . I’m overwhelmed.

. . . I’m grieving.

. . . My heart’s been clobbered.

. . . I’m questioning everything about my future.

When people ask how I’m doing, I hate the “fine,” so I’m usually honest (I mean, depending on the circumstance and person obviously). I like to be honest. I like to tell people what is genuinely going on with me. I love to tell them the good stuff, and I tell them the bad stuff because I feel everything at 150% so if I seem off, I want them to know why.

Some people say they find this refreshing. Some, I’m sure, find it an overshare.

I wrote last time (like 2 weeks ago) about being well in all areas: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually… I kind of get a laser focus on one area or another. I’ve been really focused on the physical well-being

  • Going to the gym (with a personal trainer!)
  • Eating really well
  • Getting good sleep
  • Catching up on appointments that have been lacking

But the mental, emotional, and all that other stuff is important too. How do you look after yourself emotionally? Well, that can be more individual and specific than just “eat well and get exercise.”

At the start of 2018, I started seeing a counsellor because I was done. I was spent. The previous few months had really done a number on me and then the start of 2018 didn’t really go easy on me either (I spent most of my birthday and the morning after crying). We worked through a lot of stuff, a whole lot of junk I had stuffed away in a corner. You’ll see this is a theme in my life: putting things in a box and stuffing it in a corner to collect dust.

We talked a lot about “honouring how I feel.” Do you ever feel a way about a situation and you sit there and think, Am I crazy for thinking this? Am I allowed to feel this way? But honouring how you feel does away with that question and instead accepts that feeling as valid. It doesn’t mean you act on every feeling, but to at least acknowledge it as real and valid is important. How exhausting is it to constantly question the rightness of your own feelings? Take it from me: it’s exhausting.

If you feel it, it’s valid. What you do with it, well, that’s up to you.

One thing we talked about was positive affirmations. There’s a quote floating around the internet that says something to the effect of “if you had a friend who spoke to you the way you speak to yourself, how long would you be their friend?” Instead of the constant worry and anxiety, berating myself for not being perfect, or whatever else, we worked to flip the script and add something more positive.

The goal was to actually sit in the mirror, look myself in the eye, and say whatever phrases I had come up with. In the picture, you’ll see that the first one is all about honouring my own feelings: I am entitled to my version of events and my feelings about those events. That means no one can gaslight me out of my feelings.

The affirmations I decided to use. Obviously not an artist

Full disclosure, I haven’t been great at doing this. I’d do it once in awhile or just kind of think it to myself, but you really have to put the work in.

Physically we know you can’t go from couch potato to bench pressing 100 pounds immediately. You have to practice, train, and put in the work. In the same way, there are emotional “muscles” we need to work on flexing. Change doesn’t happen overnight, whether that’s physically or emotionally.

I can’t shut up my inner critic in one swift move. I’m going to have to constantly raise my voice a little bit louder than hers.

I’m really interested in seeing how this goes. So I’m issuing myself a challenge, and you can do it too. For the next 30 days, I am going to try to say these affirmations to myself once a day. Actually sit in a mirror and say them out loud. I am aware that I’ll probably forget once or twice, but I’m going to do my best. 30 days from now is actually the perfect amount of time because that coincides right with my birthday, so that will be a great chance for me to write about my experiences.

Would you do the challenge too? What things would you say to yourself to try to change your own patter of self-talk?

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