So often we give ourselves credit for only those things that we’ve made happen intentionally... goals that we’ve reached and checked off of our To-Do list. When we look back over our lives, we might think the list is not quite long enough for us to feel a sense of success, worth or pride. What about all the events that we didn't allow to happen? Shouldn't they count toward our list of successes?
It’s important to count the times when life has thrown a problem or situation at us that could have turned out badly had we not ducked to avoid it. Maybe ducking and avoiding the issue wasn’t an option… maybe we had to find the strength, patience and resourcefulness to fix the problem that threatened our health and happiness, or that of our family.
We need to also give ourselves credit for the hundreds of potential problems that we’ve prevented by making the right choice, which may not have always been the easy choice. We should give ourselves credit for simply being brave, honest, responsible, and respectful! Life doesn’t stay on track by itself. It takes diligence, tenacity and attention to detail. These are daily successes that we should definitely recognize!
When you include all of those triumphs, it’s a much more accurate representation of your life and the effort it took to get you to this place in time!
Build your list,
Saying a person with ADHD, depression, OCD, or anxiety (etc) is not performing to their real potential is like saying an athlete with an injury is not performing to their real potential.
There is a huge difference between potential and ability. An athlete with a torn muscle might have the potential to run down the field; he just doesn’t have the ability at the moment.
The person with hidden challenges may not be working up to their potential, but they are probably working very hard to perform to the best of their ability.
Have you ever tried to run with a torn muscle? There are some ‘injuries’ that are not easily seen. It’s important to never make light of somebody’s effort by insinuating that they’re not doing their very best.
Original Publication date: July 2107 - Because somethings need to be repeated.
Thought for the day: The most difficult battle a person can fight is one that resides within them. It's often a multifaceted fight. The battle of what we want, what we need, what we think we should have, what we know we shouldn't have, that which creates anxiety within us, the battle against depression or substance abuse ~ I could go on and on. I know people young and old who battle daily against themselves. Most days they win, but some days they don't… But they wake up the next day prepared to go into battle again!! To the people who battle daily, and to those who stand beside them: You are Warriors! Well done!!
We’ve all had someone in our life that has been less than positive. Many of us have had some that have been down-right mean and nasty! You automatically know the feeling you’ll get when they are around. It’s like a cold, wet and dirty blanket of energy that brings you down and makes you want to go hide under your covers! You are so in tune with that oppressive feeling that you know they are there even before you see them. Sadly, sometimes they never leave your side!
They quite literally drain you of light and happiness until you are only a shadow of your former self. They say things like:
So…Depression! We’ve all heard about it. Most people know of someone who has the dreaded problem… or dare I call it by its real name ~ DISEASE!!! So, you have depression or know someone who does. What now? You might wonder if I have any words of wisdom to share with you. Well, I always have lots to share, but I’m not sure you can call it wisdom. This isn’t a self help story. It is more of a self validation story. I’m here to tell you that if you battle depression daily, or help a loved one who goes to battle against this bully (or any of the bullies), then you are a warrior!
You might wonder how someone with depression can build themselves back up again. How do we grow from an invisible shadow-person back to a solid, here-in-the-present person? I guess it depends on who you ask. Be wary, however, because not all advice is created equal… not even from professionals.
Advice from Friends and family:
People who have never had to battle depression (and believe me, it’s a physical, mental and emotional battle), always have advice they are more than willing to share. Well-intended friends will tell you to try yoga, take a walk outside, be around friends and family or simply just think positive thoughts. They don’t understand that having depression is not the same as being depressed.
How do I know that these friends are well-intended? How do I know that they have no idea that what they are saying only makes us feel as though we are just not trying hard enough to be happy? Well, I have been on both sides of this weak and weather-beaten fence. Before I had my beautiful daughter and tumbled over the fence into postpartum depression’s backyard, I was completely, 100% positive that depression was a problem that could be overcome by simply wishing it away! POOF!! It’s gone… oh wait, no it’s not!
Depression prefers to exist in solitary confinement. It’s not the type of illness where you want anyone taking care of you to help you feel better because you feel like such a loser for not being able to help yourself. You certainly don’t want an audience! When you are alone you don’t have anyone with whom to compare yourself. You certainly don’t want a person who would be the mirror that shows you how invisible you feel.
Keep in mind that these people mean well. We should feel happy that they don’t understand what we are going through. Of course, we would feel happy for them if we could feel… but not feeling anything is part of the problem.
What I know now is that happy people are just a painful reminder of just how different depression makes us from others. Of course, it is exhausting to try to pretend to be happy, so that’s an issue as well. So, if you know someone who is a warrior, don’t feel the need to fix them. Just be there for them without judgment. Let them talk, let them be silent, offer to run some errands, and make sure they get to a caring professional!
TO BE CONTINUED:
Advice to a teen (sad, but true): I know you don't feel like doing XYZ... but you have to do it! You can even hate it the entire time, but you have to do it anyway! That's part of being an adult!! It's actually what 75% of the adult day consists of: Cooking, cleaning, waking up early to go to work, paying bills, grocery shopping, and sometimes even forcing kids to do something they don't want to do. Do you honestly think any of it is fun? We pretty much hate it, but we get it done.
Originally published 7/23/2017
On my 50th birthday I decided to start to take better care of myself. My days were dedicated to my children (ages 14 and 11), all the chores associated with home ownership as well as my two+ jobs. I actually had negative extra time, but I was not happy with myself and had to find a way to manipulate the day for my benefit. I began small by remembering to take my daily supplements and medications. I then worked to remember to eat at least 3x a day... most days. Who hooo!! Now I was on a roll!
It was time to add in, dare I say it… some exercise. I’ve never enjoyed exercising! As a matter of fact, I sort of hated it! So it was with a hesitant heart, and body, that I decided to begin a new workout routine. I wanted to be a healthy and happy person. I worked hard every day for everyone else; I felt that I deserved a better me, as did my loved ones. So, I documented my starting weight so I could track my weight loss. I knew that since exercise was not ‘my thing’, I’d need proof of my progress to motivate me to keep moving ahead.
Day after day I pushed myself. Day after day I felt more proud of how much easier the workouts had become. Day after day I’d work a little harder so I would be sure to ‘make it effective’! I only weighed myself sporadically in the beginning because I wanted to give it enough time so I could see a difference on the scale.
After my first month of working out at least 4 times each week I decided to put some numbers on paper to document my progress. I knew I felt a difference and I couldn’t wait to see my proof! I stepped on the scale and looked down at the numbers. All the pride I had felt in a ‘job well done’ had vanished right in front of my eyes. I was so very discouraged because I had actually gained 4 lbs after one full month of eating right and working out every other day!
How could all of that effort not have paid off? How could I have actually gained weight? It didn’t make any sense! I was so disheartened! I opted to give myself a mini pity party, but because I don’t enjoy these types of events all that much, I didn’t stay long. I’ve learned that if I’m going to spend my limited time on any activity, it has to move me toward my goals.
So, like other difficult times in my life, I moved forward and worked with faith, belief and hope. I decided that even with my negative numerical results, I would keep going... Day after day I jogged farther and farther. I did more squats and more lunges than ever before. I even added in a tricep workout as well. Finally, after 3 solid months it was time to step on the scale again. I was bound to see a difference. I drove home from the track, ran in and ... hopped on the scale to weigh myself. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I did lose some weight, but only exactly enough to get me back to the weight at which I had started when I began. After all that work I had only broken even. Was I right back to the person I was before I started, though?
I had to look away from the numbers on the scale to decide if all that time working out had made any difference at all. My scale did not give me any scientific proof of change, but that’s when it hit me that proof doesn’t always come in the form of that which I can see. Sometimes proof comes in the form of that which I can feel. The scale told me that I wasn’t any different than when I began three months previous. However, I could 'feel' the difference. I had to allow that to be enough for now. I had to have faith that I was on the right track, so to speak! Hope, faith and ‘feeling’ there was a difference is what kept me moving forward with my routine.
It is now many, many months later. Am I where I want to be? No… I’m not even close. However, I know I’ll continue to do my best. Sometimes things cannot always be proven with numbers, but that doesn't make them any less real! Sometimes you just cannot see far enough into the future to realize that the steps you are taking now are getting your one step closer to where you want to be. My original goal was to get healthy. If I looked inside myself I could clearly feel that I was healthier. I was the one who set the goal, but then looked to the wrong measurement tool to see if I’d reached it.
So, I’ve decided that I will continue to do my best each day and try to get a little better each time. I have chosen to continue to walk toward my goal with faith because one day my steps will bring me to the goal that is hiding right around the corner.
Walk in faith!!!
I was sitting in church on Easter Sunday and noticed that one side of the bulletin
had a hymn printed on it and the other side was completely blank.
The blank side actually made me smile! I felt inspired to grab a pencil and allow my brain to run free.
That moment made me realize that blank pages are not empty pages.
They are full of potential just waiting for you to write your story!
"What the 'duck' is that guy doing? :) Is he for real? Is walking a duck on a leash even legal? Geez, look... the duck and the guy have on similar colors! LOL" (and on it could go!)
Over the course of a day we see dozens of people. Each person is different than we are in various ways. It's human nature to observe the world around us. It is also easy to compare our life to the lives of those we notice. We might notice that someone's car is better than our car. We could notice that someone is wearing an outfit that we'd never wear. You might see someone who is walking a duck across the street on a leash and think that they must be a bit crazy... You get the picture.
I would venture to say that most of us have these types of comparative thoughts more often than we realize. The momentary observation isn't the problem. It's what we do with those observations next that can affect us. It's when we go from a simple observation to judgemental thoughts that the trouble can start.
I like to think I'm a pretty open and accepting person, but every once in a while I'll hear myself (usually in my head) commenting on another person's clothes, actions, personality... you get the picture. Those thoughts automatically bring me to a negative place. I can feel it almost instantly. I'm not sure if it's because I feel bad about the judgemental thoughts or if I'm tapping into a dark side of myself. Either way, I don't like it and it's not who I want to be, even privately. It takes away my happiness!
So I've recently started to recognize the shadow-thoughts as quickly as possible since it's harder to stop them once they get rolling. I always say that you can't get rid of something bad, and keep it gone, without replacing that now-empty space with something better. This past week, I've tried to recognize and stop the 'judg-y' thoughts right away.
As I notice my observations growing into judgements, I'm replacing the thoughts with: Hey, it's just their thing! Amazingly for me, these little mantra stops my observations from growing into judgements. These five simple words honor who I am as a person while honoring the person that I'm observing. These five little words remind me that in order to be happy, I have to do my own thing and let others do theirs!
Remember: Hey, it's their thing!
The other morning as I drove to work, I once again began to define myself by my circumstances and surroundings. All I could focus on was what was going wrong. When I’d finally stop focusing on what was going wrong, I would start thinking about what wasn’t going right. I felt failure sitting heavy on my shoulders and it had me mentally walking in circles, but physically stuck in one place.
Like most, I carry around some heavy mental stuff!! Let’s see… what do we have here? Hmmm, I’ve got a dozen of my past failures, quite a few of my current disappointments… and, just for good measure, I’ve throw in some of my future worries … We do this more often than we even consciously realize. It’s no wonder we’re all so exhausted!
When things are going well, which they rarely ever do, then I feel as if I have value. However, when things are going poorly, like I want to hide in a hole and just remove myself from public viewing, I feel worthless! Everything I do feels wrong because nothing is going right. It's almost like the force of gravity has doubled and everything is too heavy. It’s hard to get out from under the crushing stress and anxiety of my perceived reality.
So often I’ve been able to bounce back rather quickly from these melancholy moods. However, this time the heaviness was so real and I just couldn’t climb out of this shadowy place. Hopelessness, anger, despair and sadness were wrapped around me like a wet, muddy blanket. The feeling of failure permeated everything I did… even down to the most mundane of tasks.
How was I going to fix this? I knew that I could not continue to live this way. It’s not what God intended for me. It felt wrong. But, how could I change it? I have always heard people say that we should stay in the present. We need to live in the moment. Geez... I'd be happy to just visit the moment! I don't actually need to live there. :)
I figured I’d give it a shot. It was time to try to be in the present... to find my peace in the moment. It sounded so Zen! I tried to focus on breathing and calm my mind… but it wasn’t working for me. At the moment, my brain was more like the white water rapids than a calm, serene lake. Meditation has always been just out of my reach, like the name of a song that is on the tip of your tongue.
This was one of those make-it-or-break-it moments. I had to do something. But I also had to get ready for work and finish blow drying my hair. Seriously, who has time to sit and search for inner peace? Certainly not this girl! I can barely find the time to search for my shoes in the morning! That's when it hit me... I didn't have to find inner peace; I just had to find some type of current happiness. Ohhhh…. Sure! That will be so easy in my state of mind. Naturally, my mind went blank! However, blank was better than sad, angry and hopeless! OK… that’s a start.
I had to concentrate: What the heck could I be happy about right now…. I took a moment and actually stopped and looked at myself in the mirror. I knew that I physically needed to put the brakes on what I was doing~ so I could mentally do the about-face that I so desperately needed. I had to re-set my mind.
Suddenly I knew that what I needed to do was come up with a question. It had to be easy to answer; nothing philosophical or mysterious… certainly nothing that involved a lot of thought… I had to keep in mind that I still had to get to work. So, I came up with a quick and easy question to ask myself:
Where are you right this very minute?
I looked around. I was in my home using my hair dryer in front of my dresser mirror. Hmmm… I could see the reflection of my purple bedroom behind me. I love the color purple. Actually, I love that I was able to freely choose the exact shade that I wanted. I love that I wake up each day to see my kids' artwork hanging on those purple walls.
While I was looking in that same mirror I realized that my hair looked pretty good today. Great cut and color... thanks to my awesome stylist, Stacey, who had recently worked her magic. Guess what that means? That means that I could afford to get my hair styled. This meant that I had a job that could not only sustain a home, electricity and food, but I had a little left over to get my hair done. OK… I was on a roll!
Once I started thinking about my job, it made me think of how blessed I am to have the most amazing friends with whom I'm lucky enough to work with every single day. They are my work family! They listen to me without judgment and believe in me with an amazing unconditional faith. They are people that know who I am and love me anyway! I’m pretty blessed!
This was a bit easier than I thought! I had to dig deeper. What else could I come up with? Well, you know what's funny? At that point, within seconds, I had distracted myself from the negativity and worry of past, present and future 'stuff' and replaced it with my 'right here in this very moment' stuff. It worked!!
Here's the trick: We have to stop to take a look at our current, right-this-very-minute, surroundings. We have to ask ourselves to describe where we are and what we are doing at this very moment. Don’t attach any judgment to the thought. Don’t try to analyze or be insightful. Just keep it simple by stating the obvious. It’s sort of like brainstorming. Just let the ideas flow so you can create a set of thoughts that are stronger than the ones currently residing in your head, even if it's just for a little while.
So, when you are down, stressed, sad, anxious, overwhelmed, just stop for a moment. Give yourself the gift of sixty seconds so you can see your reality for what it truly is at this moment in time!
Where are you right this very minute?
What I've learned the hard way!
When someone treats us poorly, or without respect, our feelings get hurt. When our feelings get hurt, it can cause us to cry and then become angry. Personally, I think hurt is the birthplace of most anger.
When we choose to keep the hurt to ourselves to avoid conflict (or hurting the other person’s feelings), we end up getting more angry (usually).
When this anger is kept inside, it usually ends up escalating by the minute… like a pot of boiling water with a lid on it. Now we're furious with the person... almost disproportionately so, if we stop to think about it.
We need to keep in mind that when we don't tell that person that we felt disrespected or hurt, then we are partially to blame for what we are feeling inside. Yes, we have a duty to speak up for ourselves. It’s important that we own part of the anger!
Our subconscious mind knows these rules. Where do we think the extra anger comes from? It’s that inner voice that is yelling at us to “Say something!” and “Stick up for yourself!” When we don’t listen, the inner voice gets super irate at us. This is usually what causes the pot to go from a simmer to an all-out boil!
This doesn’t mean that we need to blow up at someone who has hurt us. It simply means that we need to let off a little steam before the pot ever reaches the boiling point. So, before you ramp up, talk it out… as uncomfortable as it may be! Literally, just spit it out: I felt hurt when you didn’t show up!
So, what if it’s too late and you’ve reached the boiling point? How do you solve this problem now? Well, before you let the pot boil over, find out which part of the anger you are responsible for causing. It’s not an easy task. It can take days! Yes, seriously, days!!
Ask yourself why you are really mad. To find this out you may have to look beyond pain and pride. You have to go back to the moment in time when your feelings were hurt. Was it something small or something big? When you talk to the person who hurt you, make sure to only give them their fair share of the anger.
The goal of sharing our feelings is not to punish the other person for hurting us (as fun as that may sound sometimes)…
The real goal is two-fold:
1. We learn how to express ourselves in the moment so nobody can walk all over us.
2. We let the other person know how they hurt us so they won’t do it again.
It’s a learning curve – each time we speak up we build our courage! It allows us to see the positive results of a few small words spoken proactively!
Cindy Gagne Teixeira
Just like you, I wear many hats. I'm a mom, a teacher, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and a writer. I choose to laugh (and talk... and write) about my problems because crying takes too much time.